Picking The Hulk was not an easy process and certainly not one without considerable compromise. A lot of factors will go into choosing your vehicle; romance, character, accommodation, reliability, where you will be travelling, oh yeah and sadly your budget.
Being British I had always pictured myself driving an old Landrover defender across remote deserts displaying oodles of that plucky British “can do” attitude. Living in Canada however these are not exactly common vehicles, and when they did come up for sale they were way beyond our price range. I did consider importing one from merry old England but despite a long distance love affair with a Defender 130 on MOD sales we had to move on, the logistics just made it more trouble than it was worth. Second choice of a Classic Toyota Landcruiser was an even less attainable prospect.
Back to the drawing board, a few google searches and visits to Expedition Portal’s top 10 ten overland vehicles, we eventually settled on the Toyota Tacoma as it is the little brother the indestructible Hilux (as tested by the Top Gear boys). With its cool vented hood it has a little bit of attitude and swagger. We set about researching this option and started to see questions about using a Toyota Tundra popping up on forums. It seemed that the Tundra was a very viable option especially as when fully loaded the fuel economy was not that much worse than a Tacoma, payload capacity is significantly higher which is good for a pair of overpackers, it is a comfy ride and….. We could actually find a good selection of used ones in our budget.
After we found The Hulk and said good bye to Alan, our trusty Mazda 3, we set about deciding on upgrades that we wanted to make. After reading Expedition Portal it seemed that big beefy suspension was a must, naively we looked at kits and budgeted for a OME upgrade that would have lifted The Hulk by 2.5 inches. Two issues eventually arose from this, first we could not afford an extra 2.5 inches of clearance and still park in our condo, second I had no concept of how much this work would cost or how hard it would have been to do on my own (as previously mentioned I have few man skills). Also we are not really planning on doing a lot of rock hopping or extreme off roading so probably stock suspension would be fine with a little help from a set of Airbags to prevent sagging from the weight of our slide in camper (accommodation blog coming soon). Beyond this we are planning a couple of security upgrades including a console safe and locking gas cap, and a set of push bars for the front of The Hulk. Once these and a thorough service have been done we will be ready to roll. Essentially the less we spend on upgrades the more we can spend on actual travel, though a winch and a snorkel would be badass.
In the meantime I am having fun driving a gas guzzling monster around the streets of Toronto taking revenge on taxis that got so long bullied me in my little Mazda. The Hulk has also raised plenty of eye brows and even more question when parked at my corporate office, they may be suspecting my imminent escape, oh well.