Malissa and I had been kicking around the idea of building or purchasing a multi-purpose 4×4 vehicle such as a 4 Wheel Camper, UniMog, or Mercedes Sprinter, never once even considering the Nissan NV van until stumbling across a “For Sale” ad on Expedition Portal. Until I stumbled upon the ad, we had been looking over everything from used Earth Roamers, to custom Fuso and Unimog builds, each having their own strengths and weaknesses, the price being the biggest downfall of those full-size rigs.
Anyone in the overland community will tell you there are dozens of blogs on sites such as Expedition Portal discussing the pros and cons of full-size versus SUV based travels, each having their strengths and weaknesses. But eventually, you are forced to decide based on what is available on the market at the time, and what you are willing to sacrifice. Some may sacrifice space for fuel economy and downsize to an SUV or 4Wheel Camper. Others may decide that the only way to go is with a full-size rig based on a Unimog chassis that gets 7 miles per gallon. But for us, our list of must haves was short, no outdoor cooking, no outdoor shower or toilet, preferably enough room to stand up inside, and no roof-top tent. Malissa was originally set on a Unimog build, and was thrilled to meet LeeWhey of OverlandWithUs.com at the Expedition: Colorado expo last year, but due to my current work schedule and lack of time to dedicate to a full build out we decided that may not be the best route to take.
After seeing the ad for Mambo and his impressive build sheet, I quickly forwarded the pictures to Malissa asking her what she thought, which was a quick response of “Buy me a ticket, I want to fly out and check it out!” Within a few hours, we had a ticket booked, and Malissa was on her way to meet a complete stranger at the airport, who was going to pick her up in the van. Talk about brave, a woman willing to climb into a van with a stranger!
After a full day of test driving, walking through the vehicle, and hanging out with Jon the prior owner, who turned out to be incredibly nice and generous, Malissa had decided that Mambo would fit the bill. With a few minor changes, Mambo would meet all our needs, and be ready to take us on whatever adventure we could throw at it.
So, there you have it. Mambo with his ability to stand up, 4 wheel drive, and pop-top conversion, made the decision quite easy for us.
Thanks for reading, and make sure you subscribe and follow our friends at Overlandwithus.com where they documented their incredible journey across Australia in their LX450, and continue to document their next vehicle build. Also, visit our friends at Expedition: Colorado, they are a great group of guys and gals, and give them a shout if you are passing through Colorado.