We have decided to spend more time travelling so are downsizing our home and building an expedition truck to enable us to travel further afield spending more time off grid. The last few months have been immersed in various books to compile a list of all the requirements to make this project come to life. To buy new, secondhand or have a bespoke build was where we had to begin and it soon became apparent that new or secondhand were either too expensive or too much of a compromise so we looked around for someone who could build what we wanted at a reasonable price, enter Gekkotruck in the guise of Graeme and Ania who have their living boxes built in Poland and are based in Germany, after many emails a trip to Poland was decided upon as we wanted to see the the build facility and look at a few ex Polish army Star trucks that were recommended by Graeme.
Star trucks were bought by MAN in the late 1990s and the few examples we saw were completely refurbished and looked “as new”, they were priced at around Euro 25k so represented good value for money, however they were 6×6 which we felt was overkill and had already decided 4×4 was adequate.
The living box build facility in Poznan were converting a number of vans and the standard of workmanship was good although we were unable to view any larger projects that we were looking to undertake. Graeme & Ania had their Unimog on site which had a 3.8 metre living box attached and it was remarkable what they had managed to pack into it in the way of accommodation and storage.
After a lovely few days in Poznan we decided to head home and on reaching The Netherlands we arranged to visit BlissMobil in Breda, WOW, what an operation as they were building up to 30 living boxes annually at a very high standard but were outside our budget, we can but dream.
We were at this stage still searching for the right base truck and whilst travelling home we found on the internet an ex Fire Tender which had carried some 3 kilometres of flat hose to deal with forest fires for the Dorset fire brigade. It turned out to be a 2003 MAN LE 18.280 4×4 with an auto gearbox which had only done 11000 miles and was in excellent condition and the only compromise was the 6 man crew cab as we had felt we needed the slightly smaller sleeper cab which would allow a larger living box as we were trying to keep the overall length under 8 metres.