At my Vancouver presentation of Tiny Homes on the Move, someone asked what kind of camping rig I had. Bearing in mind that most of my camping was in the desert or on beaches in Baja California, I had a VW bug modified for desert travel; then three different trucks, a 1983 4×4 Tacoma (not with the “Xtra Cab”), a 1987 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 with Xtra Cab, finally a 2008 Tacoma with Xtra Cab. I’ll describe these vehicles in that order.
I bought this in the early ’90s from a guy who raced cars in the Baja 1000. It was called a pre-runner, so named because it was used to scout out the race in advance. It had fiberglass fenders and hood, a 15-gallon gas tank behind the rear seat, and huge shocks that came up and tied in to a roll bar inside the cab. The Yakima Rocket Box on top held camping equipment and on its top was a solar panel that charged up two heavy-duty batteries. We’d drive it on the sand by letting air out of the tires, down to about 5 pounds, and it was almost as good at beach travel as a four-wheel-drive. I had a 12′ × 14′ flea market tarp that folded up and went in the Rocket Box. On September 4, 1995, a huge hurricane hit Baja, and the car was completely under water. I worked on it for months, having parts replaced, and finally it was running again — only to be under water in another hurricane, and this time I could never get it fixed.
Ironic that a car designed in Germany would turn out to be perhaps the all-time favorite of Baja desert rats. Stripped-down Volkswagen bugs, with only a tubular framework, were (are) called rails, they still zoom all over Baja.
To be continued…