Off-road vehicles are fun by definition, and they’re often created to celebrate the impractical. After all, you’ll likely never see a dune buggy being used at your local supermarket for some Sunday shopping. But that’s what makes them so special.
Any time you get behind the wheel of a great off-road vehicle, you’re sure to experience a heart-racing and roaring ride from start to finish. So if you have your heart set on owning one of these, there’s no time like the present to indulge a little. But with so many options out there, which one should you choose?
Here are 5 of the most fun off-road vehicles you can buy:
1. Meyers Manx
The Meyers Manx is a classic in the off-road world. While today its looks may seem a bit understated compared to more aggressive modern offerings, this vehicle arrived on scene in the early 1960s and quickly became a legend.
That’s why so many who adore off-road vehicles still have owning a Meyers Manx on their bucket list. With the ability to create a truly custom vehicle with the manufacturer’s fantastic DIY kits, this off-road icon occupies a very special place in car history.
2. Tatum Dragon Sand Car
With a Chevrolet LS3 crate engine and a whopping 650hp, this auto is a speedster on the sand. But in addition to its racing form, this Tatum is also a true pleasure to drive – it’s lightweight, responsive, and even shipped with a Lowrance 5” HD color GPS as standard. This vehicle could pull double duty as a Saturday night hot rod and Sunday morning cruiser.
Starting at over AUD$185,000, owning this vehicle will require a hefty investment. But for those who feel ‘you only live once’, this vehicle is sure to give you the thrill of a lifetime.
3. Joyner Sand Viper 1100cc EFI
If you’re interested in a dune buggy but aren’t yet ready to go all-in on a high-end model, this Joyner may be a great fit for you. With models available from around USD$10,000 to USD$13,000, shipping and import costs can add a bit to the price tag, but it’s possible to get out the door with plenty of spare change left over from AUD$20,000.
And this vehicle is just fun to drive, like a souped-up go kart with a 4-cylinder, 4 stroke fuel-injected EFI with 86hp, a 4-speed manual transmission, and a top speed of 112 km/h. And with 4 huge front-mounted headlights as standard, the Joyner is just begging you to take it on an unforgettable nighttime trek.
4. Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE
Japanese manufacturer Yamaha has a legendary reputation in the world of dirt bikes, and that same racing ethos and precision design can be seen in this amazing dune buggy offering. It boasts a launch system and paddle shift transmission, ergonomic-designed cab, and a motorcycle-inspired supersport dashboard.
This is the dune buggy of choice for those with a true racer’s heart. And with a turbo-ready 3-cylinder engine and 10,500 rpm redline, this auto is sure to satisfy.
5. Howe and Howe Ripsaw
Let’s be very clear: this off-road ride is guaranteed to get you some quirky looks if your neighbors see you charging over hills with it. But for any young Aussie who grew up playing army, this vehicle might just be your fantasy brought to life.
With up to 1500hp, 16 inches of suspension travel and a reputation for being just about indestructible, this rough rider is the perfect pick for anyone who wants to really conquer the off-road trails. Prices vary, with some Ripsaws selling for over AUD$ 1 million. But now and then, some come on the market for a (relative) bargain price of around AUD$200,000.
The rules of the road
As fun as these 5 vehicles are, make sure you know your local laws surrounding off-road vehicles before you head out to acquire one. Depending on where you are in Australia, you may encounter some different rules and regulations. As a rule of thumb, if you’re buying the vehicle to drive on private land like a farm you shouldn’t have too many issues, but if you want to drive on public roads, be sure to check out your relevant state or territory laws.
Keeping safe when off-roading
Though off-road vehicles like dune buggies are typically built with a roll cage for driver safety in mind, this is designed to prevent major injury as a last resort. Roll cages will not protect you (and your passengers) from debris, dirt, and other hazards that can arise when off-roading.
Depending on what terrain you’re travelling through, your safety needs can differ widely. A hot desert drive may only require you to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt and pants to protect against sunburn and getting whipped by sand. If you drive your off-road vehicle in winter, you’ll need a heavy coat and gloves to offset the cold.
In all weather conditions, having a helmet with you is always wise. In addition to offering you some extra protection in the event of a major mishap, it can also be a buffer for your eyes, and ears – because some of these vehicles are really loud.
Although off-road vehicles are lots of fun, it’s also understood that not every Aussie car fan can afford to (or wants to) buy one. After all, as a nation with over 19 million vehicles on our roads, our autos need to meet a variety of needs, and most of them are straightforward day-to-day ones. But even so, it’s possible to still get your off-road fix with a vehicle that’s both powerful and practical.
The Jeep Wrangler Moab is a solid choice in this regard, offering a vehicle with a stylish design and capable handling of the iconic Jeep brand. Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz G550, which takes the Silver Arrows’ famous prowess in sports and luxury vehicles and combines it with a brutish off-road beast that’ll take you from asphalt to off-road.
While these vehicles are great picks, if you love off-road driving, it’s always wise to take your time – and lots of test drives – to find the perfect fit for you.