The search for that perfect adventure vehicle is never over. When you think you found it, something else pops in up that changes your needs. I found myself in this situation at the end of 2017 just as I finished up the build on the Tacoma and Four Wheel Camper Fleet. My Wife and I LOVED it and it was an amazingly awesome setup for beach camping and being in the woods of Florida next to the water. Fantastic job with comfort and ease of setup and use. However, as we found on a few road trips…that is really all it was good for.
We found through actual travel, here on the East Coast anyways, there aren’t the options close ish to the highway to stop and camp for the night that there are on the west coast. It seems even the walmarts over here kick you out for overnight parking. I have made countless trips from Florida to New York and due to times of passing through, or proximity to the highway etc, it is just super hard to find a cool campspot. Sure the trip is part of the adventure, but an hour off the path translates to a lot of time lost at the place you really want to be at. Couple this issue with the addition of another dog the wife rescued off the side of the road (now two large pups) the Tacoma got really small.
Taking into account wanting to check out more places like Nashville, New Orleans, Asheville, Atlanta, Keys etc, we decided to take a bit of both worlds. I still want to get to my awesome camp spots off road, she wants to visit some cities and see cool stuff and the dogs always want to come. Enter the van. There isn’t much better of an all around middle ground than the new Sprinters/Transit/promaster type van platforms. The Sprinter is the only one out there with a factory warrantied 4×4 system. Ford has to be done by Quigly or other small places, and ends up being a few grand more for the diesel version than the Sprinter is. So Sprinter was the obvious choice. With the Tacoma Package sold in about 3 days from when I listed it (thanks to American Adventurist forum) and the new owner flying in the following week, the crunch was on.
The 4×4 Sprinter is on a huge backorder when you want a custom one. Noone has time for that. I called about 30 dealers and finally got the word from Mercedes of Knoxville that they had one coming in. Apparently the person who ordered it, cancelled and got the deposit back so it was open. WIthin 12 hours I put the deposit down and it was mine. A 2017 Sprinter 144” wheelbase with 4wd (and lo range option), tall roof and the v6 Turbo Diesel. Perfect combo. With the shorter wheelbase, we can still parallel park in the city and get around trails with decent ease. The height isn’t much different at 9’ than the 8’ four wheel camper combo on the Tacoma. Deal was done and van was delivered two days after the Tacoma was picked up. I won’t go into a ton of detail….but I would NOT recommend dealing with Mercedes of Knoxville. Horrible communication after the sale, still waiting on a gas card I’m owed, and the service department can’t figure out how to change an option, even with step by step instructions on how to do it. Sprinter part of the dealer in general is just pathetic. However, I have one and the build begins!
The early parts of the build were spent on the little details that always make it a PITA. Ensuring all the electrical system is planned out, locations of items, etc. At the start I made an order of Blue Sea parts and Victron Energy goodies. I love the Victron stuff, mainly because it works well, but also because of the app they have for tracking usage and statistics. Helped me figure out what I actually used in the Four Wheel Camper. The other side of it was ordering all the parts I could right off the get go. Aluminess bumpers were ordered, Fammia awning, trail kitchens new Sprinter unit, blue ridge overland gear stuff, ARB compressor, PA System, all the build supplies for electrical and assembly, lights, switches, outlets etc. It was important that i try and think ahead of all the larger dollar items since a budget is in effect. I cannot go over it, which makes it extremely important to make sure I get as detailed as possible with everything up front to minimize surprises in the end. With beach days still needed here in Florida, I opted for some 285/75-16 BF Goodrich KBro2 for the stock wheels. Clears the 33” (ish) tires with zero issues. They actually look kind of tiny.
Stay tuned as we kick ass and take names with this build. Lots to do and not a ton of time to do it in. Check out the first video in the build below where I cut in the new Maxxair Fan!