It should come as no surprise that the selection of rigs at Overland Expo PNW was as impressive as ever. We saw everything you could imagine, from common rigs that were impressively equipped to rare expedition vehicles that have traveled the world. While it’s impossible to consider every single vehicle, we created this list to focus on some unique builds that caught our eye amongst the exhibitor booths and in the campground. In no particular order, here are our favorite rigs of Overland Expo PNW 2023.
1996 Mitsubishi Canter 4×4 Fire Brigade
Let’s start with a rig that definitely isn’t something you see every day. This Fire Brigade model was found in the camping area, and while we weren’t able to link up with the owner, a bit of online sleuthwork provided some details. First off, there’s a reason that this Canter looks so clean. It only has 8,500 miles on the odometer. It’s powered by a Mitsubishi 4D35 4.65 liter 4 cylinder, and it’s rocking 2-ton axles and push-button high/low 4wd. With seating for six, plenty of cargo room in the box, and tons of roof rack real estate, we do not doubt that this is a great overland rig.
2024 GMC Canyon AT4X AEV Edition
We were very excited to be there for the public debut of the latest midsized truck offering from GMC. Sharing plenty of DNA with the Chevrolet Bison but bringing its own flare to the table, this level of the Canyon AT4X is ready for off-road adventures straight from the dealership. With the Multimatic DSSV suspension, ample skid plates, a winch-equipped bumper, 35-inch tires, and best-in-class ground clearance, the AEV Edition is practically everything you could want for an overland rig. Plus, it includes plenty of aesthetic upgrades, like AEV beadlock-capable Salta wheels and exclusive interior options.
2024 Lexus GX550
Speaking of rigs that debuted at Overland Expo PNW, the new Lexus GX 550 was on display for all to see. While it’s obviously a very luxurious SUV, some of the overland-focused features include a wider track width on the Overtrail trims, full-time 4WD, impressive trail geometry, seating for seven, a front skid, limited-slip center differential that can be electronically locked, Crawl Control, and 349 horsepower. Plus, it’s a very well-designed and engineered vehicle. In particular, the two-tone paint options with a contrasting roof sets the 550 apart from other offerings in the segment.
Rallitek Subaru Crosstrek
Subarus are plenty capable off of the lot, but Rallitek has built out their rigs to a whole new level. The Crosstrek that was on display in their booth had nearly every imaginable option to increase its trail capability. Lights, a hidden winch, rock rails, skid plates, a lift kit, all-terrain tires, an awning, a rear swing out, and upgraded wheels. The list goes on and on. Checking out the skid plates and rock rails, it’s obvious that this Subie sees the trail and isn’t just a show rig. Honestly, that made our day. Plus, they gained some points for style with the topographic wrap.
Scheel-Man Rally Ready G-Wagen
If you happened by the Scheel-Man booth, then you couldn’t have missed this G-Wagen. While the lack of cargo room might mean that any overland use leans towards minimalistic packing, there’s no way to doubt its trail credibility. Since it rolled off the assembly line in 1988, this G-Wagen has seen a wide range of next-level modifications and countless miles. It’s completed the Sonora Rally multiple times and, more recently, the NORRA 1,000. In order to stand up to the rigors of these events, it’s been converted to a 6-cylinder twin-cam turbo diesel with a custom rear-mounted radiator. Rounding out the back of the rig are dual spares. We love this vintage rig that’s been transformed into an absolute beast.
Flatbed & Camper Equipped F450
From the relatively small G-Wagen to this capable backcountry abode is quite the jump. This Ford F450 was equipped with a host of upgrades to increase its comfort and capability. The Highway Products flatbed provides external storage and a secure base for the camper. The Buckstop bumper upfront covers protection and recovery duties. Of course, a rig like this is required to have some suspension upgrades. While we didn’t get details, the airbags and upgraded coils were a given. Rounding out the build, the Made in the USA Truckware wheels are wrapped in 33.5-inch Continental MTs, giving this full-sized rig a capable and appropriate stance.
Maxximum Mfg. 6×6 Jeep Gladiator
What can we say about this behemoth that was on display in the Maxximum Industries booth? It’s not exactly a sleeper rig, and that’s why we love it. It has true six-wheel drive, plus it’s outfitted with a long travel suspension. With 18 inches of travel up front and 16 inches on both of the rear axles, there’s no risk of this Gladiator being considered a simple showpiece. As a matter of fact, it would be awesome to see this tackle some trails. With everything going on in terms of tires and suspension, it’s easy to miss the custom bumpers, lighting, limb risers, and all of the other accessories. Based on the traffic at the booth, many attendees considered this rig photo-worthy.
Living the Vanlife 1991 Volkswagen Westfalia
It seems like it has been a while since a VW Westfalia was featured in our “Best Rigs of…” series, and we feel this example is worthy of a return. This 32-year-old Westy is owned by Chad of Living the Vanlife. Chad has owned the van since 2010, and he lived in it full-time for a decade-long period. Outside of the obvious cool factor of the pop top and interior build-out, it also holds the distinction of receiving its power from a 2.0 Boxeer TDI turbocharged diesel. Given how many miles Chad has put on this van, it’s a shining example of the fact that a 2WD van can still take you to many amazing places.
Lifted & Loved 2000 Mazda Miata
Can this Miata tackle every single off-road trail? Probably not. Would we hop in and take it on a cross-country road trip? That’s most likely another negative. Was it one of the coolest vehicles we saw over the weekend? No doubt. We ran into the owner and learned that it’s equipped with a 4-inch lift kit and 25-inch winter tires, aka the biggest tire that will fit. The custom trunk rack holds fuel, recovery gear, and a fridge. Inside, a second 12v fridge is fitted between the seats. As a carryover from a previous life as a track car, the roll cage adds a layer of safety to this compact convertible. It’s also ready for adventure after the sun sets with ditch, spot, and fog lights mounted up front. If you still have any doubts about this Miata, it’s worth noting that it recently completed the Baja XL.
One Family Owned 1951 Jeep Willys Wagon
Last but certainly not least, we bring you this absolute classic. While we didn’t get a chance to speak with the owner, we did hear through the overland grapevine that it’s been in his family since it was new. It’s the perfect blend of original and modified to become a totally useable rig that’s at the absolute pinnacle of style. Up top, a modern roof rack holds cargo and a 270-degree awning. The suspension has been updated with Bilstein components, and it’s rocking manual locking hubs from Warn. We appreciate that much of the gear found around camp was of the vintage variety. If the owner is reading this, we’d like to say that this is well done, and we’re sorry we missed you.