Vorsprung Expedition Technik Germany’s Maltec Malt Explorer 80

Vorsprung Expedition Technik Germany’s Maltec Malt Explorer 80

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In Germany Maltec have built up a reputation for building motorhomes based on the Toyota Landcruiser HDJ80, but far from being just a gimmick for the rich end of the 4x4 market maybe they are actually the ultimate expedition vehicle... Robb Pritchard goes to find out.


Vorsprung Expedition Technik Germany's Maltec Malt Explorer 80

So how can they add a mini house to the back of a Land Cruiser and still maintain the vehicle's structural integrity? “The camping cabin is fixed to what is left of the original bodywork and where the original pillars have been cut out we install a strengthening framework of chrome-molybdenum steel.”

The camper stands proud at 2.2 meters high which is only 25 centimetres higher than the standard vehicle but the roof lifts up on its gas struts a full metre so that inside there is an internal height of more than 2 metres, meaning that even the tallest of expeditioners won't need to stoop. The upper floor houses the 'bedroom'. The lying area with a real mattress extends over the entire width of the roof and measures 1.4 x 2.1 meters. It can be lowered down to sleep or folded up out of the way when you want to be in the 'living space'.

I remember a line from their website, 'Reliability, performance and comfort at the highest level' and that's exactly what the interior is. There's a complete wardrobe and kitchen unit made of light Alucobond panels, a two burner gas stove, a sink, a 65-litre refrigerator and a water tank. On the other side is a wide couch that can also be used as another bed, and under it is a 25-liter boiler providing hot water for showers... although you'll have to take them alfresco as a bathroom is just about the only thing not included...

Mounted under the body, just in front of the rear axle, is a polypropylene tank to store additional fresh water for those long trips away from any fresh water source... or alternatively you could have aluminium storage boxes in the same place. There's another large storage space in the body at the rear.

Power comes from a 12 and 220-volt system powered by a solar panel on the cabin roof that charges an Optima battery with 85 Ah capacity and energy is saved by using LED technology for the interior lighting and the pretty cool looking tail lights. There are also external 220 volt connections for campsites. And what about those heading to cooler climes (or those peculiarly cold desert nights)? Well, the interior can be heated in three different ways, by the water heater, with a Webasto air heater or from ducts directing warm air back from the engine.

The fuel carrying capacity is an impressive 275 litres. The stock Toyota tank is already a generous 90 litres, but Maltec add an additional 185 litre aluminium tank mounted where the spare wheel used to be. But if massive range is what you are after then it's possible to have another fuel tank in front of the rear axle which will give you a massive 345 litres!

With the second fuel tank fitted the standard exhaust doesn't fit any more so it is re-routed to come out just behind the passenger door which gives a nice throaty sound to the big engine. It seems pointless to mention that a snorkel is fitted and what expedition truck doesn't have a heavy-duty bumper... but cleverly this one also doubles as another water tank! Also mounted on the outside are a set of sand tracks and an awning. Still on a quest for shedding kilos wherever possible the wheels are a set of aluminium Alocas with the spare mounted on the roof overlapping the windscreen a little. It's maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing option but there is nowhere else for it to go!

For rough roads suspension is HT-springs and Koni shocks although Maltec will fit any set-up you request.

All Maltec Explorers are bespoke vehicles, built to the requirements of each individual customer, so no one 80 is like another and prices vary accordingly. The base vehicle itself, stripped and re-built will set you back 23,000€ and the standard interior will be around 5,500€. The complete vehicle featured on these pages is on the forecourt for 78,000€ which might seem a lot of money for a car that is at least 20 years old... but it's a fully-equipped, luxury expedition vehicle that you can trust it to take you almost anywhere and you know that old saying; you get what you pay for! And as it always will be, a HDJ80 in a class of its own.

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