The idea to travel by an expedition truck was born many moons ago, when we were spending a 3 year period in Zambia, working as volunteers on a hospital project. Seeing occasional travelers in expedition trucks, passing by the village where we were based, we got excited about having one of those trucks in the future and travel for longer periods to far away places. The fact that these trucks would bring us to places, ordinary camper vehicles could not access and at the same time being equipped in such away that you could be independent from external water and energy supply for weeks in a row, was very appealing.
Years passed and we traveled by plane, car, rental campers and SUV’s with rooftent seeing interesting places and gained experience on how traveling for us in the future would look like. In the meantime the search for the perfect expedition vehicle started. There are thousands of these vehicles on the roads these days, ready made by professional manufacturers or self made. And they all have the best vehicle based on their wishes and/or past experiences. So what at the end of the day is the most perfect expedition vehicle, could be for many users of them, a different answer.
For us the most important part at the start would be the vehicle itself (brand, type, age ect). The idea that we would be all over the world, in extreme cold, heat, dry dessert sand or muddy rainforests, the vehicle should be able to handle it all. On top of that, the brand should be well represented around the globe. And the fact that we are not born vehicle mechanics, it should have either be young and low millage or brand new (which means adding a couple of years of more hard working and saving). So after extensive research we decided on the Mercedes Zetros. Initially a 3 axles one, but we scaled back to a 2 axles. The total length of vehicle (including the unit),determines the manoeuvrability and the parking possibilities.
Now we were sure that we had a vehicle that was reliable enough to get us across the globe, we came to the second phase, the ”living quarters”, or the ”unit”. The choice on that was much bigger (there are far less vehicle manufacturers then unit builders). There is an used expedition vehicle market we looked at (Vehicles with units), but since we intended to use the truck for a couple of years, we wanted it to be really “ours”. So that market was not an option. Then there were the unit manufacturers, small and big, professional and semi-professional. There were big differences in price, style and above all construction type.
Since we had a very sturdy and strong truck, it would not make sense to compensate on the strength and sturdiness of the unit. (There is a lot of movement during traveling, especially during off-driving). The exterior and interior strength and the way the unit is mounted on the frame of the truck is almost comparable with the foundation, columns and ring beams of a house. So the number of unit builders dropped a lot, when looking at the construction methodes of these units.
The functionality and the quality of materials in the unit came next and also there we found (now in the remaining group of builders) big differences.
Then at the end, we found how important it was to have a – like Mercedes – a reliable company with good after sales and service during our time of traveling.
We were very happy that we found a company of who’s founders have travelled the globe with an expedition vehicle themselves and used all their experience and knowledge to manufacture the best unit for expedition trucks, presently on the market. Bliss Mobil in Breda The Netherlands, has become a world leader in high end, high quality unit builders. We had entrusted them to provide us with a total package, meaning the purchase of the Mercedes Zetros truck, to construction of the unit and bringing it all together into our present expedition truck. We have been on the road now for about 7 weeks, and the performance of the Zetros Bliss Expedition truck is above our expectations so far. We are confident that we made the right choices and that we will be able to go to the far edges of the globe.
I agree what you wrote about Bliss. And as well about the truck istself. I hope that we will somehow make it as well without Iveco service network (I bought the combination Cabin and truck second hand, one year old with 14.000 km). Otherwise I will change the chassis later… but so far I am happy with the Iveco!
Hi Andreas, I think you made a good choice, the Bliss unit as well as the Iveco truck. And indeed, if can always change to another truck later if required, depending how rough you want to go!