Mercedes-Benz 435 Expedition Truck Build (2018-2019)

This was an expedition truck design and build project that I completed over an 18 month span with my wife Yvonne.  The goal of the project was to build and travel in a custom four-wheel drive expedition truck.

We built the vehicle from a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 435 military truck. In addition to refurbishing and modifying the truck chassis and drive-train ourselves, we personally designed and built the habitat living module and systems specifically for this vehicle.

The chassis is large enough to accommodate a 75 square foot living module with a total vehicle weight of up to 16,500 lb. The habitat module has a bathroom, shower, kitchen, eating area, permanent bed, refrigerator, heating, full solar charging system, and a pass-through into the refurbished truck cab. The vehicle is capable of remote operation for several weeks without re-supply.

Trip at a Glance

Number of Days – 133 (19 nights above Arctic Circle)
Total number of Canada/US border crossings – 10
Number of ferries/barges – 13
Miles on Pavement – 9,478.3
Miles on Dirt/Mud/Gravel – 2,521
Miles on Ferries – 618.7
Total Miles – 12,618

Up to date information on the project can be found on our blog and Instagram:


M1078 LMTV Expedition Truck Refurbishment (2017)

This project was particularly fun because I did it jointly with my wife Yvonne.  The goal of the project was to refurbish a M1078 LMTV for civilian use as a chassis for an expedition truck.  The chassis is large enough to accommodate a 110 square foot living module with a total vehicle weight of up to 26,000 lb. A completed expedition truck based on a M1078 can be capable of remote operation for several weeks without supplies, can be US registered as an RV, and drive-able with a normal Class C driver’s license.

Michael Fuchs M1078 LMTV
Michael Fuchs M1078 LMTV

The M1078 is a member of the basic LMTV utility truck family in the US military. The family includes 4×4 and 6×6 chassis for a wide variety of uses.  We acquired the base 1996 4×4 M1078 truck from government surplus.

This project took us a little over a year and required refurbishment, painting, power coating, and replacement of many vehicle parts as well as the fabrication of many new custom items.

At the completion of the refurbishment, we sold our freshly finished LMTV to Grigsby Truck Company.

A full description of the refurbishment can be found on our project blog:


1943 Ford GPW (Willys Jeep) Restoration (2013)

This project was a complete restoration that I did on a 1943 Ford GPW WWII army jeep.  This particular GPW was originally used by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Los Alamos, New Mexico during WWII on the Manhattan Project. This chassis was delivered to the government on June 9th 1943.

Michael Fuchs 1943 Ford GPW
Michael Fuchs 1943 Ford GPW

The military vehicle designation for the WWII jeep is technically “G503”.  The G503 is the original ancestor of the modern-day Jeep. The design started its history in 1940 under development by American Bantam Car Company.  For mass production reasons, the final production version of the G503 was produced by both Willys-Overland and the Ford Motor Company during the war.  There were slight variations between the Willys and Ford chassis, but the vehicles are for the most part identical. Willys retained the rights to the design after the war, so most people know these vehicles as “Willys jeeps”, but there were several companies involved in the wartime development and production.

I took every part down to clean metal and repainted with period correct paints.  One of the most fun parts of the project was researching all the historical details.  When I got the vehicle, it was in relatively good shape, but it was 70 years old and needed complete restoration.  I repaired all structure and body damage using original materials.  No body filler was used.  I rebuilt or replaced every system component and returned the electrical system to its original 6 volts.  The project took almost a year and a half of diligent work, but overall it was very satisfying to make every part as clean as new and historically correct.  I owned and drove the GPW for a year after I completed the restoration and later sold it to a collector in Texas.