Fuso Pioneers


Expedition Leader
Marvin Patchen


Thanks for sharing this article. It's great to see that the Fuso FG has been used as an expedition platform for many years.

Here's one of the photos found in the PDF Doug shared. Marvin Patchen is the owner of this gem. I read with interest that the Fuso camper was built by Callen in El Cajon, CA.


A little googling turns up the fact that Marvin raced in both the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in the early days. Marvin retired in 1975, and in 2005 was still active. That's a record we all can aspire to.

Chip Haven


Expedition Leader
more credit to Fuso pioneers

Forum member "FusoFG" was also among the early adopters of the Fuso FG as an expedition platform. Here's a photo of his camper on the Prudhoe Bay haul road in 1993.


And here's another "vintage" Fuso with an Alaskan Campers popup.


These trucks all used the Fuso with 109" wheelbase for maximum maneuverability.

Chip Haven


We read that original Trailer Life article at the public library in St Petersburg, FL sometime in 91-92.

That's what started us on our pursuit of an FG.

At the time, Fuso had stopped importing them and with the help of the factory and several dealers we located the last 'new' one in North America at a dealer in Johnstown, PA.

It was fitted with a dump body for a landscaper. The landscaper went out of business and the dealer got it back with less than 2000 miles on it just as we were searching the country for one.

We had the dealer remove the dump body and somehow convinced our bank to give us a $24,000 cashiers check for the truck by promising to bring the title in a week later for colateral on the loan.

We flew to Pittsburgh, rented a car, drove to Johnstown to pick up the FG from Ringler Motors.

We drove back to FL with just the cab and chassis. Very bumpy until we figured out to air down the rear tires!

We were stopped by the police on the Skyline Drive / Blue Ridge Parkway because commercial vehicles are prohibited.

I showed the officer a copy of that Trailer Life article as proof of my intention to be an RV, not a commercial vehicle and we didn't get a ticket.

As Chip pointed out, that's our 1993 FG going to Prudhoe Bay.

We took off for 4 years and drove all over North America -Big Bend, TX; NM; AZ; UT; CO; Death Valley and the Lippincott Mine road; WY; ID; MT; AK; Prudhoe Bay before the haul road was open to the public; Innuvik, NWT; across northern Canada; up the Trans Labrador Highway before it was improved; New Foundland; retraced Tom Collins Great Divide Trip as much as possible; lived in Yellowstone NP for a summer working Hamilton Stores; etc.

10 years later we noticed they were importing them again and we bought our second FG - a 2004 and made another camper.

If I could find a 136 inch wb 2007, I might buy my third FG. But my search efforts have only turned up 112 inch wb models.

The FG is a great vehicle!

We have searched for that article many times but with no luck. Thanks for finding and posting it.



Expedition Leader
Tom's 2nd camper

Here's a photo of Tom's current camper. The camper body shell was built in Georgia to Tom's specification. He finished the interior, and installed the mechanical systems.


Yes, that's a pair of little dogs in the cab window.

Chip Haven


Another 'Vintage' Fuso

I read an article about Marvin Patchen's Fuso in a 'Four Wheel Drive' magazine in the summer of 1993. It wasn't one of the articles linked in the earlier post. I immediately liked the idea and started planning a build. As previously mentioned I found that the FG439 was no longer being imported. I think the 4WD model was not available for about four years. That summer I found what seemed like the last new cab and chassis available in the US at Colorado Mack in Denver. The initial build was completed in February, 1994. At that time I only knew about Mr. Patchen's vehicle and another up in Colorado that is in the example photos posting. I had extensive off road travel experience living out of flat fender Jeeps and Toyota Landcruisers but now had a family. My general idea was to have a land version of a cruising sailboat. It has permanent bunks so you don't have to change anything to get some sleep.
I'm away from home but found a few photos on my notebook computer. These are not at a web link. I've attached them to the message, but am new to this forum so I don't know if my tags as formatted will actually display them in the text.

It's been interesting to read how others have met the requirements and problems that everyone building an expedition camper Fuso confronts.

I didn't have any plans to ship it overseas so the design incorporated my interpretation of the realities of highway vs. off road % travel in the US and Mexico. That being said its off road capabilities pretty good compared to a diesel extended cab pickup. I don't know about others, but because of the weight distribution, my unloaded Powerstroke could get stuck on wet grass without the front hubs locked.
Best wishes to Doug down in Chile. It's a great country. Are you headed South to Punta Arenas & ushuaia, argentina. What about Cuzco, peru, Bolivia & Amazonia in Brazil? I've traveled extensively down there, but not in a Fuso!

Forum statistics

Latest member