The Truck

The very first step was to buy the vehicle that would drive us all the way for this adventure. Because it will carry everything that we need and will be our house during this journey it needs to be reliable. A truck not too old, but not too young either because we do not want an engine with electronics; we have to be able to fix it ourselves and find spare parts easily.
Because Anthony already has a couple of years experience with driving, traveling and living in heavy trucks, the choice was oriented to this same kind of vehicle. Because Africa doesn’t have a road infrastructure as good as the one we know in Europe a four-wheel drive is a necessity.
Mercedes Unimogs or M.A.N 4×4 are really good off-road trucks but way too expensive. We discovered that RVI had a 4×4 version of the one we already used to travel in Europe (midliner 250). This truck has a simple, strong engine so we started looking for the same model with a four wheel-drive.
After searching just over a year a good opportunity occurred in Lyon (France). We found a RVI M180 used by the French electricity services « EDF ». They drove this truck any place where there are high voltage electricity lines to fix. As those lines cross every kind of landscapes (forests, fields…), a strong four wheel drive vehicle is necessary to allow workers to reach the broken point as close as possible. The 1996 version of this truck is the last in a series that began in the early eighties; the basic and solid construction has fully proven itself throughout the years.

We bought it June 2012 with 160.000 km on the clock



  • 6 cylinder 6.2L Diesel engine 180 hp Turbo intercooler
  • Permanent 4X4
  • Gearbox ZF S6.36 6 speeds + 1 reverse
  • Transfer case MAN G450, High gears and low gears
  • Diff locks front, back and central
  • Hydraulic winch 6 tonnes
  • Tyres : 365/85 R 20 Michelin xzl
  • Maximal weight : 11T500
  • Wheelbase : 3.40m
  • Diesel consumption : 23L / 100km on normal road
  • Maximum speed : 90km/h


Once purchased, we drove it all the way to Amsterdam (Netherlands) to the place where we rebuild this old working truck to an expedition vehicle. Every aspect of this job we did ourselves at Villa Friekens; an old factory with a big warehouse where people live and work on various projects.

To discover Villa Friekens : CLICK HERE!


 First we got rid of the small box that was on the truck and started looking for one that would fit best for our project. We soon realized that finding a good box isn’t easy!
At first we investigated the options to have a custom made box made, these boxes consist of sandwich panels. Unfortunately this optionproved to be to expensive for us. We even looked for second hand boxes but none of them had the desired size. Eventually we decided to buy a second hand fridge box bigger than what we needed that we could modify in order to get the box with the ideal dimensions and shape. It’s definitely not the easiest way but, in the end, we build a really strong box, well isolated and with the perfect dimensions for our truck.

Description of the box

  • Fridge box Lamberet designed for frozen food (-18°c)
  • Box made with sandwich panels, glass fiber, Isolation foam and aluminum reinforcement stripes
  • Roof thickness: 88mm, wall thickness: 45mm, floor thickness: 120mm
  • Outside dimensions after modification: length: 4.80m, width: 2.60m, height 2.20DSCN1591

We also had to prepare the connection between the box and the chassis. Because it’s an off-road vehicle this connection has to be flexible in order to leave the chassis torsion free . The previous box was connected to the chassis with screws and springs and all fixation points were torn, so we couldn’t use the old sub frame. So we built a new one. This frame isinstalled on four points: one hinge at the front, one at the back, and two rubbers on the side. We also we refreshed the base by spraying a new orange paint on the cab and chassis (black).

Outside dimensions (final version, with box and equipment): length: 7.10m, width 2.60m, height 3.70m

To see details about the construction: CLICK HERE !