Among the coolest cars I’ve seen recently are an overlanding big rig from Austria, a rare version of the rare Toyota Van and a long forgotten Korean car that is somehow, some way still on the road.
I’ve concluded that this is a MAN TGM-based Langer & Bock adventure vehicle. I saw it pulling into a Safeway parking lot on an impromptu trip to Page, Arizona, and it was wearing license plates from Vienna, Austria. Langer & Bock is a company based in southwest Germany that adds self-contained boxes to a variety of utility-oriented vehicles, including Land Rover Defenders, Unimogs, Toyota Land Cruisers, old military and bespoke vehicles, and commercial trucks such as this MAN TGM. They have a pretty good website at LangerUndBock.com. This looks to be one of their larger builds.
I often ruminate over what would be the most improbable vehicle to encounter on American roads, and I tend to land on a European-market big rig from a company like Scania or MAN, both of which are owned by Volkswagen. I guess this kind of counts.
Here’s a 1989 Toyota Cargo Van I saw in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Toyota Van was sold in the U.S. from 1984 to 1989, with the cargo version being pretty rare. For context, I’ve counted about 20 of these Toyota Vans in the past few years (I know this because I’m a sociopath and I keep track of these things), and this is the first one that’s been of the cargo variety. I was in Wilmington for four days. On the second day, I caught this van driving down the road out of the corner of my eye, but wasn’t able to get a picture. On the third day, I came across it parked outside of this auto parts store in a completely different part of town. There are over 250,000 people in the Wilmington Metro Area. Statistically improbable occurrences like this make the world feel really small sometimes.
This is a first-generation Hyundai Excel GL I saw on the west side of Salt Lake City. Sold here from 1986 to 1989, the Excel was Hyundai’s first entry into the U.S. market. Fittingly, the Excel was cheap, with a starting price of only $4,999, or just over $11,000 in 2018 dollars. Three body styles were offered: a 4-door sedan, a 5-door hatchback and a 3-door hatchback. All variants were offered in Base or GL trim. Four- and 5-door models topped out in GLS spec, while the top trim level of the 3-door variant was known as the GS. Hyundai actually sold a lot of these here in the U.S. — over 800,000 between 1986 and 1989 — but they were plagued by poor reliability and rapid depreciation, and most wound up in junkyards, fast. Apparently, this one has stood the test of time. A version of the Excel was also sold in the U.S. as the Mitsubishi Precis from 1987 to 1994.
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.