When searching for our latest build vehicle, we had many items on our checklist but a small budget. We took our $5,000 budget to Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace in search of the perfect budget overland vehicle. After talking with Eric Gagnon at Classic City Overland, we decided on a second generation Isuzu Trooper.
These often overlooked 4x4s are used and abused all over the world and sold under many different names. The Trooper checked off most of the boxes on our list, primarily being a 4×4. These trucks are excellent off-road workhorses with front lockers, 4.56 gears and V6 engines.
Another positive in favor of these vehicles is they aren’t sought after, which makes them a great value. Ranging anywhere from $1500 – $4000, these second gens are great platforms for a budget overland or offroad build!
Along with the positives, the Troopers do have their drawbacks, the biggest being the automatic transmission. If you’re lucky enough to find a 5-speed manual, snatch it up! If not, like us, you will want to at very least install a transmission cooler to keep the underbuilt unit cool.
After a week-long search and hundreds of miles on the road, we found our 1995 Isuzu Trooper LS with 149,000 miles and a near-perfect interior. The engine was clean (but not too clean), the body was in great shape and it even had a power folding mirrors!
So let the mods begin! Throughout this series of posts, we will document the journey of building a very capable, budget overland vehicle without spending a dime over $10,000! STAY TUNED!