One of the joys of attending Overland Expo is checking out the amazing overland builds that people from all over the country (and the world) are working on. From mega global travel rigs, to classic Land Cruisers, there's something for everybody.

Old School Iron

It's no secret around here that my favorite overland platform is the Land Rover Defender. Despite its primitive construction and reputation for, ahem, let's call it… giving you plenty of chances to meet the locals, it's still the adventure vehicle of choice for countless explorers around the globe. Ours has taken us on journeys that we could only have dreamed of, and it's still kicking around as an occasional expedition truck and my daily driver back home in Montana. Built the right way, these romantic rigs can take you anywhere.

Sometimes at Overland Expo you need to look on the other side of the fences to locate some of the more interesting builds. Out in the visitor parking lot there are lots of real gems - they're not just found in the vendor or exhibitor area. This 200Tdi diesel Defender is a Spanish market truck, so it has left hand drive - a desirable option both for domestic and international travel. And, it also features one of the most impressive overland builds I've ever seen. With a high-roof conversion, a slew of quality off-road upgrades, and a fully bespoke interior with custom cabinetry, I could happily live in this Defender full time.

Oh, and it's for sale - you can check out the listing over at Expedition Portal.


Another long-term overland legend is the Toyota Land Cruiser. You could even argue that it took the global expedition crown away from Land Rover starting in the 1980s. This one was eye-catching in its robin's egg blue and white livery and the immortal words of Doc Brown on the rear window. There were lots of thoughtful touches on this 55-Series Cruiser - a simple and straightforward build from a simpler time.



The Big Boys

Overland Expo is one of the few places you can see multiple mega global travel rigs like Earth Cruisers and Earth Roamers gathered in one place. There have been plenty of custom commercial truck-sized overland vehicles plying the more remote corners of the planet going back to the 1950s. But we're living in a golden age of the no-holds-barred, bring-your-house on the road builds. This one was imposing - built on a RAM platform, fully custom. Also for sale at a cool $250,000.


New Kids on the Block

Many of the OEMs debut their off-road and overland-focused models at Overland Expo, and plenty of accessory and gear manufacturers and retailers do as well. What's a better showcase for your cool new products than a shiny new truck? The Nissan Frontier was finally updated recently after 14 years of the previous version, and it's catching on as a tough-looking and capable overland platform.


Lexus was one of the brands with a big factory presence at Mountain West, and they featured some extensively modified versions of their GX and LX lines. The LX is all new, based on the global 300-Series Land Cruiser platform that we sadly don't get in the US anymore. But this GX was the one that caught my eye. It's hard to turn away from that grill. (Check out the extensive build sheet.)


Honda always does double duty at Overland Expo showing their adventure and motocross bikes as well as their primary four-wheeled overland option - the Ridgeline pickup (maybe even triple duty, if you count their line of generators). The Ridgeline occupies a strange zone between all wheel drive crossover and traditional pickup truck, but Honda has gone all in on offering a line of factory overland accessories for it.


The new Ford Bronco has made some serious waves in the off-road community - both for its retro-classic good looks and some of its manufacturing defects. I'm confident Ford will clean up some of the issues they've had with the Bronco's soft tops and powertrains. In the meanwhile, here's a couple of really lucky dogs.


Oddballs and Outliers

One of the most exciting things about planning a clean sheet overland build is that you can choose pretty much any vehicle you want. Ben Coombs drove a TVR Chimaera convertible the entire length of the Pan-American highway. And a Porsche 944 across Africa. There are more likely Porsches for the overland treatment - the Cayenne being foremost among them. The first gen Cayenne in particular is a highly capable off-road machine. Why not travel in style and speed?


Hummer H1. 'Nuff said.


Full Sized Pickups

We've talked about the rise of the full-sized pickup as the modern overland platform du jour, and they were out in force at this Overland Expo. I don't see the trend toward RAM, GMC, Chevy, and Ford (even Toyota and Nissan) full-size overlanders cooling down anytime soon. When you can put incredibly luxurious and ultra-modern campers (like the Nimbl on this F550) on the back of them, why would it?


What will your next build look like?

Photos: Stephan Edwards and Ben Steiner