I’ve been toying with the idea of building an expedition vehicle for about 5 years. With my sights firmly set on the Unimog, I contacted professionals, drove a few and even entertained the idea of shipping one from Germany. After a lot of digging around I eventually found it might be the best vehicle but probably not the vehicle for my budget. The best written comparison I found was over at Two if Overland, after reading this I was convinced that I should look at LMTV’s as the base to build on.
I won’t go into excruciating detail but the LMTV can be bought at auction through govplanet.com for between 7k and 10k depending on who you are bidding against. The milage is about 40k or less and the biggest downfall, in my opinion, is the fact that you have to buy it sight unseen. Well… they post a lot of photos and start the vehicle on video but nothing is like actually walking around the truck, driving it and going through all the lines. These vehicles are sold to the government for 140k plus (depending on features) so don’t think that if you get a Ferrari dirt cheap the parts are going to be cheap. It’s still a Ferrari. Plan ahead financially to dump more money into it if you are going to buy one of these.
…don’t think that if you get a Ferrari dirt cheap the parts are going to be cheap. It’s still a Ferrari.
I purchased a 2002 1078A LMTV with 11k miles in November of 2016 after about 6 months of bidding and being picky. The kicker on this vehicle was the winch, it was actually the first one I had come across that had one plumbed into the PTO. After a small bidding war I got the truck for $8,200. After shipping, fees and taxes it was around 11k shipped to my door (from Texas to Colorado).
That was just the beginning of the purge from my bank account. The check engine light was on and in Colorado you can’t get an emissions test done with it glaring the tech in the face. The truck needed batteries, the ones it shipped with were just to get it started and delivered by semi. The roof of the LMTV has a 4 foot hole in it from where the 50 cal turret used to fit, which wasn’t going to work in Colorado weather. One of the door handles was broken and these things are push button start and don’t ship with keys. Therefore, at any point somebody could have hopped in and started the truck. The latch to tip the cab didn’t work so in the event I wanted to tip the cab it was locked in place. You get the point…
…these things are push button start and don’t ship with keys. Therefore, at any point somebody could have hopped in and started the truck.
Obviously I knew this was going to be a learning experience but I’ve definitely had to lean on the folks at Wagner CAT and Steel Soldiers. There are Technical Manuals for these things, 10k pages for the LMTV, but clearly I am in over my head without the knowledge of others. This blog will go through changes I made, problem solving and build advice.
Hope you enjoy,