Overlanding

Take a right-hand drive JDM minivan into Death Valley? Sure, why not?!

When you're looking for a great overlanding vehicle, you don't always have to go traditional too ensure a great time.

Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

Trekking through California's Death Valley on paved roads in a family car isn't as treacherous as it might have been a generation ago. Modern technology has made air conditioning and engine cooling much more trustworthy.

Venture off of the scorching pavement and the Great Basin Desert can exact a toll upon human and machine alike. A properly prepared vehicle outfitted with skilled, resourceful drivers is a must.

1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon Andy Lilienthal drives the Space Tractor through California.Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

There are precious few vehicles sold in the U.S. market that can handle the sort of overlanding that Mercedes and Andy Lilienthal want to do. That's why they chose to tackle the lowest point in North America with a right-hand drive minivan that was never sold in the U.S.

Indeed, the 1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon (nicknamed by the couple as the "Space Tractor" for the sci-fi inspired styling) may look like a van that was briefly sold Stateside – its L300 chassis was sold here as the creatively named Mitsubishi Wagon. While the US market model was rear-wheel drive and powered by a four-cylinder gas engine, in Japan the Delica was offered with myriad trims and drivetrain options.

For Andy, the Delica obsession started in New Zealand, where he'd driven one for a week – "I knew I had to have one at some point," he said. Six months later, he found an importer with this Delica in stock rather close to his work. The van was lightly rusted making the original asking price too high. The van sat and the price sank to an acceptable price for both parties - $8,750.

1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon The Space Tractor sits preparing to take on Death Valley below.Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

The Lilienthal's Delica Star Wagon rolled off the line with a 2.5-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that powers all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case. When pushing a vehicle far from what most would consider civilization, chasing gremlins caused by haphazard engine modifications can be dangerous. The Lilienthals kept the Space Tractor's engine completely stock, in order to deliver "maximum reliability." Stock doesn't mean the original parts, however – all of the consumables under the hood have been replaced, including the glow plugs, and a strict regimen of oil and filter changes have kept the 90-horsepower oil-burning power plant churning like new.

Ninety horsepower is all that the Space Tractor has on tap to motivate its blunt body down the road. The Lilienthals limit the Delica to 65 mph. "It'd go faster, but just wasn't happy," Andy shared. The couple simply got used to the slow lane, especially in those places with higher freeway speed limits. They found – by necessity, of course – that life in the right lane is simply less stressful.

1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon Andy Lilienthal sits under the Space Tractor's ARB awning at Red Rock campground.Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

Designed for the narrow streets of Japan, the Delica didn't arrive on U.S. showroom floors ready to take the kind of punishment a typical overlanding journey can inflict. The Lilienthals made upgrades. Yokohama all-terrain tires give significantly better traction and sidewall protection from sharp stones. An ARB awning turns a parking spot into a shady picnic area. A BajaRack roof rack gives plenty of extra stowage space. The couple even added custom curtains to make sleeping a bit more comfortable and private.

Overlanding holds a special place in the hearts of the Lilienthals, who met on a road trip. For them, it's a peek back to the days when families almost exclusively traveled cross-country in cars. "Traveling this way gets you away from the masses … [to see things] that haven't been invaded by scads of tourists," said Andy.

They haven't just taken the Space Tractor to Death Valley. Mercedes was partial to camping in California's Alabama Hills, surrounded by "[r]ounded terra-cotta colored boulders and an intricate web of dirt trails." Andy, on the other hand, recalled the treacherous crawl down Lippincott Mine Road in Death Valley, an 8.2-mile long trail with extremely rough terrain – without the extra vehicle preparation they'd add later. No winch, no extra fuel. "The van would go up on three wheels on occasion as we'd traverse bigger rocks and washouts," Andy said.

As much fun as it is, the Space Tractor is only a temporary addition to the Lilienthal's garage. They bought the van as a test to see if they wanted to live with this type of vehicle. While the duo has found that this is exactly what they want, they also came to the realization that the van has some corrosion that will be expensive to fix.

1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon The interior of the model is well-kept.Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

So they decided to sell. Mercedes said that in the three years they've had the Space Tractor, the market has become stronger. $11,000 seems to be the entry price, she said, "We've seen several priced recently around $15-16k, and they are all bone stock."

In their time with the Delica, the Lilienthals found themselves interacting with two new automotive subcultures: Japanese domestic market (JDM) fans of anything forbidden fruit from The Land of the Rising Sun, and van fanatics. Beyond these two subsets, the off-road community further welcomed them with curiosity about their unusual rig.

1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon The Lillienthals have taken the van to Alabama Hills, California.Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

After quickly selling the Space Tractor, the Lilienthals purchased their next rig, a 1994 Mitsubishia Delcia L400 Space Gear, which comes with a more powerful diesel engine than the Space Tractor, and a manual transmission.

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The Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo brings an adventurous spirit to the table.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Imagine a Porsche 911 with a long, wagon-like back end and you end up with something like the Porsche Panamera. Make the 911 a Taycan, Porsche's fully-electric sports sedan, give it a wagon-like back end and increased ground clearance, and you have the 2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.

Porsche says that the new model "draws on the strengths of its sport sedan sibling" giving buyers an idea of what to expect - a performance-focused driving style, sure-footedness, and a refined interior. The increased ground clearance via a standard air suspension and added cargo capacity make the Taycan Cross Turismo more adventure-ready.

The fresh body style give rear seat occupants 0.35 inches more legroom and 3.62 inches more headroom. With the rear seats folded, there's 42.8 cubic feet of cargo space, about 10 cubic feet less than what's in the 2021 Porsche Macan. With the seats erect, the differential is in the Macan's favor by just under two cubic feet (15.7 vs. 17.6). The Taycan Cross Turismo has 2.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the front, something the Macan doesn't have (because that's where its engine is).

2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Roof rails are standard. A roof transport system and rear-mounted bike rack are available via Telequipment. The Off Road Design Package adds additional body cladding and raises the ride height an additional 10 millimeters (0.39 inches).

The boutique automaker will launch the model in four grades: Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, Taycan 4S Cross Turismo, Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, and Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo. All models will features dual-motor all-wheel drive, a two-speed rear transmission, Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management in conjunction with air suspension, Performance Battery Plus and its 800-volt battery architecture, adaptive aerodynamics, a panoramic glass roof.

The Taycan Cross Turismo will come standard with a Gravel drive model, meant for driving situations that need more traction than most. But, in no way should the car be considered anything more than dirt-path ready. The car is quipped with more cladding than the traditional Taycan in order to prevent paint chips and body damage.

Porsche says that Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo can accelerate from a stop to 60 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds while the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo can make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. The Taycan 4S Cross Turismo and Taycan 4 Cross Turismo can get to 60 mph in 3.9 and 4.8 seconds respectively.

Three years of free Electrify America charging is also included with every model.

Buyers will be able to order theres in a number of color ways, interior schemes, and Cross Turismo specific items such as the Off Road Design Package and 20-inch Off Road Design or 21-inch Cross Turismo Design wheels. There are 21,000 total combinations based solely on variant, wheel choice, exterior color, and interior selection.

Porsche's PCM infotainment and navigation system are standard. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Function on Demand, Plug and Charge capabilities, Apple Music, over-the-air updates for three years. Bose and Burmester audio systems and 14-way power-adjustable seats with massage functionality are available.

Adaptive cruise control, park assist, a head-up display, and lane keep assist will also be available.

The Taycan Cross Turismo models start at $90,900, not including the $1,350 destination charge. The Taycan Cross Turismo is expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in summer 2021. EPA range figures will be announced closer to market launch.

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This colorful 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera MFI Safari is up for auction later this month.

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
When it's in a competition, it's a winning streak of pink, yellow, and silver. This 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera MFI Safari Rally Car is headed to auction with the model set to cross the block during the Silverstone Auctions Race Retro Live Online Auction this spring.

The Tuthill Porsche 911 started its life in January 1975 as a relatively rare Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 MFI Coupe. The models were only produced from 1974 to 1976 and were mechanically identical to the 1973 Carrera RS.

It was converted to a rally car in the early 1990s and campaigned extensively by legendary Irish driver, Billy Coleman. Coleman is Ireland's most successful motorsport rally driver—in 20 years of racing he has claimed 29 victories.

1975 Porsche 911 Carrera MFI Safari Modifications to the Porsche have made it ready for off-roading competitions.Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

1975 Porsche 911 Carrera MFI Safari

In 1998, the car was hired for The RAC Historic rally by Silverstone Auctions Managing Director, Nick Whale. Recognizing its power and prowess, Whale purchased the car and continued to race it, wining the 1999 Safety Devices Rally Challenge outright. It also won the British Historic Rally Championship held in 2000 over eight rounds, four tarmac and four gravel events.

The car was sold in May 2002 and rallied by new owners for the next decade. It would then be converted by Tuthills into a full house East African Safari spec rally car.

"We are thrilled to offer a car with such outstanding history and one that I have previously owned and won in, for our first sale of 2021," said Nick Whale, Silverstone Auctions Managing Director. "The 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera MFI Safari Rally Car really is a credit and privilege to offer in our tenth year as the official auction partner for Race Retro!"

The interior of the 911 is rally-ready.Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

The car has competed in and finished four East African Safari events. In 2017, the car took the top spot on the podium, winning it outright, with driver Ryan Champion behind the wheel.

This Porsche 911 was even selected by Porsche Club GB as one of 30 specially invited cars to attend as well as participating in Porsches 50th Birthday celebrations at Brands Hatch circuit in 2018.

The car comes with MSA papers and an FIA HTP.

The Tuthills modifications are valued at £40,000. Newly built cars today are around £300,000 plus VAT.

The car features a lifted body style.Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

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