I’ve gushed more than once about Fred Oosthuizen and the luxurious vehicles rolling out of his Custom Campers facility in Meyerton. One of the secrets of its success is the experienced team – you can feel the camaraderie and pride the moment you step onto the factory floor.
In a previous article, I wrote about Giel Nel of Pretoria and his motorhome built on a Mercedes-Benz chassis. Now, I get to tell you about a visit to the ‘Big Daddy of Overlanders’ that Fred and his team built on an Iveco Eurocargo 10 ton 4×4 truck chassis. The camper section is 10 metres long.
I never got to meet the owner, as he is an extremely hardworking businessman; and, when I phoned him later, he asked that I just call him Michael.
Perhaps it was Michael’s first shakedown cruise to a resort near Brits that made him decide to stay so firmly under the radar. He told me: “We had probably 150 to 200 people during the course of the day asking if they could climb in to have a look around.”
I guess it wasn’t long before Michael and his wife wanted to fire up the 6-cylinder turbocharged motor and head for the hills.
And, if you’re thinking that these are people with more money than sense, and who have never camped before, you couldn’t be more wrong.
“We started many years ago in an ordinary dome tent. All that we actually had, was the tent and a cooler box,” says Michael.
“After tent-camping in Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique, we started looking for something a bit more comfortable, and later moved on to a rooftop tent.”
But, all the while, Michael and his wife dreamed of the ultimate overland truck.
“We watched Discovery Channel for years, looking at the ultimate overland adventure vehicles being built overseas,” he laughs. “We stole with our eyes, and in the meantime, worked like Trojans to save up for our dream home on wheels.”
After saving for years, and with a firm idea of what they wanted, they finally approached Custom Campers.
I’ve spoken to Michael a couple of times since writing this article, and every time he emphasises the same thing: “From the moment we first sat down with Fred, we were on the same page.
“We had our plans for the Ultimate Overlander… we pretty much knew exactly what we wanted.
“Fred and the team knew exactly what materials were best for the construction, etc., and together we planned to have a vehicle loaded with 550 litres of diesel: enough fuel for 2500 kilometres.”
Custom Campers fitted the tanks in the middle of the truck, which offered a low centre of gravity and added to good weight distribution.
Michael decided on the best mattress available, as well as a double Snappy Chef in the galley section and another water tank for off-grid living for two weeks – including a shower for two, every day! I have to add that the overlander has a cutting-edge reverse osmosis water filtration unit, too.
The couple had the team design a five-star entrance lounge that morphed into a really comfortable double-bed. The truck also has a fully-kitted inside and outside kitchen unit.
I am hoping that I meet Michael and his wife when the well-stocked liquor cabinet/ bar is open somewhere in Africa. I’ll opt for the Johnny Walker Black, thank you very much.
It’s a big truck, but Michael tells me it cruises along comfortably between 100 – 110 km/h.
The overlander doesn’t have cab-to-cabin access. When I asked why, Michael explained: “The first and most important thing is this: the moment you mess around with or cut access to the camper section, you lose your guarantee… added to that, one often gets dust ingress through the concertina rubbers perishing over time.”
Another fascinating feature is the state-of-the-art hoist at the rear of the Iveco. This is custom made with its protection cover to house a BMW GS 1200 adventurer motorbike.
I could go on and on, but I hope my pictures will tell you all you need to know about what an incredible job the Custom Campers team have achieved with this magnificent beast.
By Richard van Ryneveld