Thomas Kreutziger is a professional electrician by trade, but in his heart, this talented German is a truck guy and an adventurer. If you want a real overland adventure, there is not much on the Continent. The options are to drive to southern Spain and ship to Morocco, or to Italy and ship to Tunisia. Both put you at the fringe of the Sahara Desert. You need a four-wheel-drive vehicle that can travel 1000 miles and be totally self-contained. This fact, along with the heritage of the huge 6x6 and 4x4 support trucks for the Dakar off-road race, has resulted in the design of some amazing expedition campers.

After 12 years of working with aluminum Land Rovers, Thomas decided he wanted something a little bigger and more comfortable. With some investigation, he discovered the Magirus Deutz trucks built in Ulm, Germany. They were designed originally for the German railroad and later used as emergency response vehicles at airports. One thing that clearly sets them apart from other vehicles is their Deutz air-cooled engine--lots of oil but no radiator.

After much searching, Thomas was able to find a 1976 1770D 12A with only 64,000 miles and no camper. What followed was a mammoth project, four years of hard work, and many innovative ideas, several of which had never been tried before. In the process, Thomas founded ALU-Star Expedition Campers. His personal ALU-Star prototype would include everything technically possible to create a mobile home, a high-clearance expedition vehicle, and a moving multifunctional workshop all in one.

The basic 179D12A Magirus Deutz came with a Kloeckner-Humbold-Deutz 8.5-liter direct-injection air-cooled diesel V-6, putting out 176 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, this is not a turbocharged engine. The German railway had its own specific requirements. All trucks of this generation came with a five-speed ZF transmission and a two-speed 4x4 transfer case, giving it 10 forward gears. Full-time four-wheel drive, heavy-duty rear axles, and 100-percent differential lock on the rear axle and transfer case provide maximum traction.