By on September 18, 2013

TTAC Commentator MightyTall writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I’ve been reading your articles and enjoying your sage advice given to other people. And since you said you’re running low on submissions, here’s mine: I’m currently driving a well maintained reliable 140hp 2.0l Turbodiesel, 6-speed manual 2007 Passat station wagon … 157.000 km on the clock and no troubles.

I love the car and it loves me back, which is why I think I need an additional vehicle to do some dirty work. I hunt and thus often go to the woods on badly maintained dirt roads and occasionally logging road type terrain. While the Passat gives me no trouble getting there I think I’m putting undue wear on it and giving it the occasional “northwestern pinstripe” due to vegetation reaching out into the tracks. Hurts my insides watching the great car slowly getting beat up.

So what I’m thinking is, I want a SUV or Pickup Truck that fits the work environment… So no carpets, no shiny bits and pieces and as long as there isn’t rust I don’t even mind if it is already a bit battered. Now here’s the main issue, I’m 6’9″ (206cm) tall and 250 lbs … so I can’t just fit any sardine can.

Newer Japanese equipment is generally out of the question…why they shrink the insides of their vehicles in the light of demographics showing ever taller people is beyond me, but anything beyond Model Year 2000 ish seems to be smaller. Land Rover, one of my favourites, is also out … 5’8″ is the max one can be to drive those.

So really what I’m stuck with is Nissan Terrano I and II, the King Cab Pickup or their Mitsubishi and Toyota equivalents. Also Lada Niva might be interesting or if we go to more commercial type vehicles it would be a VW synchro Transporter van or box truck.

To recap, I want a basically bulletproof vehicle that is easy to keep clean and will last me several years without too much investment, preferably Diesel. Rust is a no-no since the TÜV is really adamant that no structural components be affected. SUV is also rather second choice due to the difficulty of cleaning in the cargo area and also the higher tax cost … Germany is really milking the high displacement Diesels.

If confronted with such choices and with a budget of about 5.000 € what would it be for you?


Sajeev answers:

Northwestern Pinstripe? Nice: here it’s known as “Texas Pinstriping.” It’s a mark of pride for those who do real work and I betcha you know that feeling. So thank you for writing.

I know pickups in the states, but Europe is a bit different. I’ve seen that episode of Mike Brewer’s Auto Trader where he helps with a truck purchase, so I will pretend to be an expert. And since I own a Ford Ranger, why aren’t you considering one? They got the goods, are priced extremely well and are more than plentiful. It’s the complete opposite of a Land Rover, in terms of your pocketbook, from what I see.

But do you really want a truck? I mean, an open air loading area is ideal for recently dead animals, but…

If the Passat takes you hunting everywhere, perhaps a body-on-frame vehicle is unnecessary.  Why not get one of those “El Camino looking” car conversions? VW, Ford, Opel, Peugeot and others take a passenger car platform to make exactly what you need. Unless you need more space in the (regular) cab, and that’s a big concern. Plus there’s even better hunting in even cooler places with a proper pickup!

So what’s my advice?  Buy any truck, but focus on the service history!  At this price, finding a vehicle with the best paperwork and least worn out tires/brakes/hoses/body damage etc. is your first priority.  I would test drive the Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota (and Ford and Isuzu/Opel) trucks and see which one you certainly do not like.  From there, find the one with the most service history and the normal wear items in the best condition.


Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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15 Comments on “Piston Slap: Dash The Passat for The Road Not Taken?...”

  • avatar

    Sajeev! You totally missed an opportunity to Euro-Fanboi out!!! Based on my nearly-4-months on the ground in Europe, Europeans do 4×4’s only 2 ways:

    #1: Fiat Panda, the Giugiaro-designed one, of course. Understanding that a German man may not want to be caught dead in an Italian car, why not the Golf Country?

    #2: Geländewagen: These are 1 step up from farm tractors on the continent (based on my brick-laying cousins who drove nothing but when I was in Italy in 1987). Plus, German, and hey, it’s a Mercedes.

    Of course, if it were me, I’d go with a Shogun/Pajero, and seek out Evo trim just because I could.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a 3rd way: Nissan Qashqai. Saw tons of those the 5 years I lived in Geneva.

      Personally, I’d rock a Lada Niva, but I’m sure most people don’t want to deal with temperamental Soviet hardware, so I’d recommend the Qashqai.

  • avatar

    Wow, I never considered those!

    Me and my Texa-Trucky analytical brain, such a buzzkill!

  • avatar


  • avatar

    What about a van or a Transit?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    The Top Gear dudes seem to like Toyota Hilux for off road hijinks. Are these available locally?

  • avatar

    I would recommend a van cab and chassis. I’m not super familiar with the market. Something like a ford, vw, fiat / iveco, Mercedes, all seem excellent choices.

    Looks like you can get a small engine in most of them. Just pick your favorite brand and go shopping.

    I know vans are more available around there than pickups. Though the cab and chassis might be more rare.

    The niva with the tray on the back is a good choice, not sure if those were available outside Russia in the past. Niva parts are cheap and its as simple as they come just you have no diesel option.

    If you want to look really strange buy the Van thing that lada makes that comes in a cab and chassis. Now that is pretty dang odd. I also think they only sell/sold these in Russia. Russians love them.

  • avatar

    OOOOOH Iveco Massif! Cut rate Defender 110!

  • avatar

    !st point, the Ford Ranger outside the Americas is a re-badged Mazda that is well regarded but may suffer the same dimensional issues. Depending on price/availability a 4×4 van with a either a cab bulkhead or a dropside body would be a good utility option. Also if the TUV will let you, you can remove the bulkhead behind the seats in a Landrover to buy some more legroom, and either run a hardtop or cut a hardtop 110 into an extended cab.
    For old school vintage cool, try a Peugeot 504 pickup with a Dangel 4×4 conversion.

  • avatar

    How did I not know that Ed and Mike had another show before Wheeler Dealers? Thanks for the tip, Sajeev! Found the first episode on Youtube.

    • 0 avatar

      ‘How did I not know that Ed and Mike had another show before Wheeler Dealers?’
      Mike goes back at least 15 or more years with different shows.
      I like their current series. It’s always fun watching the fat guy.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    Fiat Ducato 4×4 or Iveco Daily 4×4. Vans, flatbeds, single cab, double cab, short wheelbase, long wheelbase, whatever you want. At least big enough to sit in. Simple (the older ones) 4 cylinder diesel engines, 2.8 or 3.0 liter.

    These vehicles (or better said, their model names) go back years.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    If the Fiat or Iveco are too big you could also have a Renault Kangoo 4×4,
    Peugeot Partner 4×4 or Citroën Berlingo 4×4.
    Basically these are small vans, all come with 4 cylinder diesel engines, displacement somewhere around 2 liter.

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