A worthy replacement for the Steyr?
We sold our Steyr in 2011, we have been without a truck for over a decade now! Although we love our Freerider (Sprinter 4×4) we are now in the market for a new truck that we will use as a platform for our next Expedition Truck build, the future Mountain Yacht!
When looking for a truck there are some considerations to make: do I choose an old truck that is tax-free, without electronics so easy to fix or will it be a modern truck with new and greener technology, comfort and parts available?
It all depends on what you are going to do with it. When overlanding in Africa an old and reliable truck that is easy to fix is probably the best option. Not having electronics will be a big +. When you spend more than 50% of your travels on ‘normal roads’ other things are important like fuel economy and comfort.
We would like to do both so we are looking for the goose with the golden eggs! A truck that is comfortable, reliable and has decent fuel economy. Furthermore good road manners and capable off-road as well.
I have always had a soft-spot for the MAN KAT 1 trucks, especially the 6×6 1A1 version (the mother of all offroad trucks): go anywhere and virtually indestructible! I love the sound of the Deutz V8 air-cooled engine and the ‘Wandler’ gearbox is fantastic to drive. But the KAT is kind of getting old and parts are getting more scarce everyday. Although the sound of the engine is fantastic it can be tiresome on long hauls. Comfort is non-existing and fuel-consumption is outrageous! Also a Euro 0 rating so not at all environmentally conscious and European cities and tunnels will be an absolute no go.
So a fantastic piece of work, very reliable, incredible cool-looking and one of the most capable trucks off-road, but in my opinion not the best base for an Overlander truck, especially our Overlander truck. As we are building a Mountainyacht, size is also something to consider. Mountain roads are winding and a long vehicle like the MAN KAT will have more issues.
So the KAT was out of the equation. We looked at other old-timer trucks:
- Saurer 6DM and 10DM: very well build and nice semi-automatic gearbox with Wandler but top speed at maximum rpm’s around 85 km is just not comfortable.
- DAF T244: fairly cheap and somewhat reliable but only 180 hp and no differential lockers on the axles, so off-road capabilities fair but not good enough. Furthermore: the load capacity is not enough for our purposes.
- Mercedes ‘Rundhauber’: cult and reliable but not comfortable and more similar negatives as the above mentioned trucks.
- Scania SBAT 111 6×6: very well build and capable off road with automatic gearbox but very rare.
- Steyr 12M18: durable and capable with differential locks all around but also not enough load capacity for our purposes.
Which modern truck?
This means we’ve made the conclusion to look for a modern truck. There are lots of modern trucks on the market that will fit our bill. The problem is that they come at a cost that is not within our budget. The MAN TGM series is modern and capable as well as the Mercedes Arocs and Axor series.
We both love the radical looks of the Mercedes Zetros with the ‘big nose’ but they are expensive and difficult to register in Europe. This has to do with the Euro -classes, they will not fit the environmental bill.
We came across the MAN HX60 which is used as a transport carrier of the British Army. Although the steering is on the right/wrong side, it appears to tick almost all te boxes:
- Automatic gearbox
- High and low gear
- Reasonable fuel consumption due to standard rear-wheel drive.
- Differential lockers all around so pretty good off road capabilities.
- Water-cooled 6 cylinder so ‘normal’ heating
- Parking heater
- Euro IV without AdBlue
- Some come with a strong hydraulic Rotzler winch
- Build to function from -35 C. up to 50 C.
The HX60 is built with modern technology based on the MAN TGM-series, so serviceable in every MAN workshop. This means parts are readily available. Paired with a 5,5 meter box it will be approxinately 8,5 meters long, which should be short enough to drive most mountain roads.
Negatives: the gearbox is an automated gearbox, so it needs some time to shift. People say you get used to it. Electronics: being a modern truck there are lots of electronics that may lead to fault codes. I have been told most of the are pretty harmless and quick-to-fix and overall reliability should be fine. Anyhow, every modern truck will have that issue.
We are specifically looking for a HX from 2008 – 2009 while it has a Euro IV qualification. October 2009 is the last date that can be registered in the EU.
The British Army is letting the HX60 trucks go in batches and there are quite a lot for sale. There is a good choice from really used (cheap) to brand new with strong hydraulic winch (relatively expensive). Still they all seem to come at a good price – quality at the moment compared to similar modern trucks with Euro 4 classification. A Euro 5 classification would be better (lots of cities have Euro 5 as minimum), but there is simply no truck for sale with Euro 5 that fits our needs.
So it seems that the only real down side is the right-hand steering. When used on small mountain roads next to steep cliffs this might actually be an advantage instead of a disadvantage?
Therefore we decided on the HX60, with winch! We have some HX60’s on our shortlist and hopefully buy one soon!