In photos: Adrift in a sea of monstrous camping machines at the world's biggest cross-country vehicle expo
This year, we made our first trip over to Germany's Abenteuer & Allrad (Adventure & Allwheel) show. Very similar to Overland Expo, but considerably larger, Abenteuer & Allrad bills itself as the world's largest "cross-country expo." Most expos start when you enter the gates, but this one starts the second you step out of the car because the camp area parking lot hosts the wildest collection of otherworldly 4x4+ camping vehicles you're likely to ever see gathered together. If you've ever looked at one of the six- or seven-figure expedition vehicles we've covered and wondered if anyone actually buys such an odd extravagance, the Abenteuer & Allrad camping lot answers with a big, fat "YES!!"
Overland Expo attracted about 14,500 visitors this year, its biggest show yet. Abenteuer & Allrad claims an average upwards of 50,000 each year. But that's not necessarily what makes this the "biggest" show of its kind. It's the massive expedition trucks that really put it on a scale all its own. While you will see a number of large expedition rigs riding on 'Mogs and MAN trucks at Overland Expo, Abenteuer & Allrad is absolutely full of beastly 4x4, 6x6, even 8x8 builds, and the trucks underpinning those builds vary as widely as the designs – from Ivecos, to Steyrs, to Mowags and more.
Here are a few vehicles we particularly enjoyed stumbling into:
Gooo Travel's green monster
Thanks to its neon-green color, hulking size and shipping container-like layout, this MAN-based machine of exploration was one of the most memorable of the camp area, if not the entire show. It got even better when we got back to the computer and realized Gooo (Get out of office) Travel, the company name that was all over the truck, is actually a new Dutch rental company – so you might actually be able to rent this beast for an ultimate adventure of your own. We don't see this specific model listed on the website, but maybe if you send 'em the above photo and say that's the one you want, they'll send you a quote. If not, the company advertises similarly large expedition trucks with Bliss Mobil modules, as well as smaller vans and 4x4s.
Pop-up roof on steroids
Pop-up roofs are very common in the camper van market but get less common as you move up to larger motorhomes and expedition vehicles. When pop-ups do appear on larger vehicles, they're usually in the form of roof sections or lifting upper bodies. Here, we came upon a truck with a full-length, camper van-style clamshell pop-up. The camper module is designed by Germany's Ormocar Reisemobil and appears to fall in the company's "special construction" category. One look at those industrial strength struts tells us it is indeed quite special.
No one was around to chat with about this particular build, but Ormocar specializes in custom-built fiberglass motorhome modules and vehicles, and it has quite an impressive résumé of past designs.
Mercedes camper vans everywhere
It was our first trip to a German overlanding show, so what did we expect to see? Dozens and dozens of Volkswagen camper vans. Indeed, VW was the only company to have its own exclusive tent inside, but outside the gates, the camp area didn't have nearly as many classic or new VW campers as we were expecting. In fact, while we didn't keep a running tally, it felt like Mercedes-Benz camper vans outnumbered VWs. They weren't all the shiny, new Sprinter 4x4s always popular at Overland Expo, but camper vans and buses sitting on more classic Mercedes underpinnings. Each one was cool in its own right, but we'll give the nod to the blue one above based on its muscular stance, large but not too large cabin size and graphics.
Not your grandaddy's Volvo (or maybe it was)
Many an expedition vehicle maker, whether a large manufacturer or a DIYer, starts with a former military vehicle. And sometimes the unrefined military base vehicle is as impressive as the motorhome it eventually helps create. This 1978 Volvo C303 that was for sale in the parking lot is one of those.
Prior to running into this one, we weren't especially familiar with C303s – or Volvo military vehicles, period. While catching up, we've learned that the C303 was a sort of Swedish answer to the Pinzgauer, developed in the 60s and 70s as a go-anywhere light military vehicle with on-demand 4WD, locking differentials, and a set of portal axles giving it that high stance. In addition to the hardtop 4x4, it came in six-wheel and canvas-top varieties, but the eight-wheeler was scrapped in the prototype stages. It was from this style of rugged military vehicle that the Volvo "Cross Country" name still used in today came to be.
The sharply cut rear on this one appears to be a special build or piece of aftermarket bodywork, as all the C303 photos and user manual diagrams we've found floating around the Web show a shorter, squared-off backside. It's awesome either way, and the window sticker listed a 117-PS (115-hp) 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, 2,400-kg (5,291-lb) weight and €15,990 (approx. US$18,900) price. Hopefully it found (or will find) the right owner.
We saw many other cool, classic military trucks, oversized expedition vehicles and camper vans on our morning walk around the camp area. See them all in our photo gallery.