Interview with Clay Croft of Expedition Overland

Clay Croft of Expedition Overland (Amazon docu-series), has been generous enough to answer some questions for the team at GrandTourNation.com

  • For any car enthusiasts who haven’t seen the show, what is it about in a few sentences?  

Expedition Overland is a documentary series that follows the adventures and mishaps of a group of friends as they explore the world by overland equipped vehicles.  We really strive to show what it’s like to be on the road, to educate, inspire, and let the viewer into our world as we go and see it.

 

  • Are you a fan of the show The Grand Tour?  Do you have a favorite episode from Top Gear or the Grand Tour? 

I Love Grand Tour as does my family!

I really get into any of the specials. “Seaman” was awesome as well as the other special destination episodes. I thought it was awesome to see the Grand Tour explore some of the same areas we have been as well, like in Colombia, those bridges are insane. It was just as scary when we crossed them several years ago. Grand Tour is an impressive show with incredible writing, film work, and post skill and it’s a bar to strive for in our productions at Expedition Overland.

One of the “less” terrifying bridges in South America
  • Which Grand Tour host do you identify with most? 

I Identify the best with Richard.  I think his humor is awesome and he’s always up for the challenge with a sense of comedy and wonder. The way he makes mistakes seems to be very similar to myself. Ha!

  • You have some amazing rigs on the Amazon show ‘Expedition Overland’, what happens to your rigs when the show is over?

 We often keep our rigs for several years. But eventually we move them to private sellers quietly. The only corporate sale so far was Rufio which was purchased by GARMIN.

The XO Crew in the Atacama Desert
  • Where are the trucks from your previous expeditions now? 

We stage all our fleet rigs at our X Hangar headquarters in Bozeman, Montana. At this time we have an old 1989 62 Series Land Cruiser, A (16) 200 a series Land Cruiser, (16)Tacoma, (18)Tundra, (2020)Gladiator, and a (2018) Ram 3500 AEV Prospector, (2020) Polaris General, 2018 Patriot Campers TH610 Toy Hauler,  and our Patriot Campers X1H off road trailer. Our most recent purchase is actually a 1996 4Runner that we are going to be upfitting this year. (4Runner build is breaking news, we haven’t announced that yet,) We also have another awesome build coming up with a manufacturer but I’m not sure we can post that yet.) 

  • What do you and Rachelle use for daily drivers?  

My daily driver right now is the 62 series Land Cruiser. It’s a kick to drive and it’s part of keeping it alive on the road. They need to be driven. The Family car is a 2008 Land Cruiser. I guess you can tell we like Cruisers.

This is Clay’s daily driver, what a great truck!

 

  • What is your dream car?  

Oh man, well I get to drive many of them but if I was to dream, I have to step out of my world of Expedition trucks and say, An Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. They are beautiful. I’ve never seen one in person but I see it and hear it in my dreams.

Author’s note, GREAT choices for both daily driver, AND dream car Clay!

  • Do you have a favorite vehicle from your years of doing this? 

I absolutely loved my 2013 Tacoma. It was a 6-speed manual, supercharged, and regeared. It was an absolute blast to drive. It was planted, fast, and could take me anywhere. I procrastinated selling it for three years. I still miss it.

  • The South American expedition is available to watch on Amazon Prime, what was everyone’s favorite part about this expedition? 

I think it was the vast diversity in climates and scenery. We experienced every season and every climate. It was amazing. On a personal front, we had a stellar team that year and that makes a huge difference in your travels. The people you travel with are just as important as the places you choose to see.

 

  • You included clips about paying some baksheesh to corrupt cops (Ecuador), as well as police surrounding you in the night and negligently firing a round near your group (Peru) – those are pretty raw and must have been emotional for people in the group who aren’t familiar with these kinds of situations – were there any other super stressful or emotional moments?

Yes, those are some pretty emotional experiences. But we learned a lot from them. Thankfully we had gone through training to deal with those situations. What made us go the extra mile and get the training was from our Mexico police encounter on our way home from Panama. We got stopped on a very narrow highway with a high brush on either side. They stepped out in plain clothes armed with submachine guns. That was a wake-up call. They ended up being undercover police, but at first sight, it appeared to be something else. We learned a lot from that experience and decided we needed more skills if it ever turned serious.  Quick tip, keep your truck in gear and depending on the situation engage 4 wheel drive when rolling up to those situations.

  • You’ve been all over North and South America, do you have a favorite place to expedition, or an overall favorite place that you’d like to return to for an extended exploration? 

I would love to explore Canada more. It’s a vast land to the north with spectacular wilderness. As far as other far off countries go, I would return to Bolivia in a heartbeat. That is an awesome country to explore as an overlander. It’s remote, still a little ‘wild west’, and has a great set of environments from jungle to high mountains, and expansive deserts.

  • Your expeditions have quite a following, and you seem to promote pretty heavily the idea that if viewers want to go out and do something, they should work towards it, and do it.  Have people reached out to you about their own successful trips?

 We certainly advocate that if you want to go see the world you better go, it may look different if you wait too long. The world is changing and if you have a desire to see something, then there is no better time than now. With that message at the forefront of what we do we have had many people come back and tell us of their inspired journeys. Some people have gone camping with their families for the first time. Some people have gone to Alaska to see it for themselves. Others have taken on the Pan American highway just like we did. It’s very humbling to hear of all the adventures out there inspired by Expedition Overland. 

  • There is a LOT of lands left to discover.  Any thoughts or plans in progress on these locales?  What do you think of these ideas?
    • Expedition Overland: Follow the tracks of The Grand Tour’s ‘John’ in Mongolia (John was a homemade vehicle, not a person) 

Mongolia is at the top of my list! In fact, Rachelle and I and a couple of friends were headed there this year before COVID 19 hit. We planned to ride Chinese motorcycles across the country in a couple of weeks. It was going to be one heck of an adventure because none of us have that much motorcycle experience. But we will keep working toward it. Maybe next year!

    • Expedition Overland: The original Grand Tour – (circa 1700’s) from London to Paris over the Alps to Italy to Malta and Greece etc on a cultural education trip. 

This sounds fascinating. I love big stories and tracing the steps of those who came before. We once traced the steps of Alexander Mackenzie in our Return to the Mackenzie series. Ultimately we reopened the dying 4×4 trail in British Columbia in a two-week expedition. It’s one of our best trips to date. 

    • Expedition Overland: Europe.

 I would love to explore northern and eastern Europe more. I spent a summer in Slovenia and that’s one place I’d love to go back to.

    • Expedition Overland: The Middle East. 

This is also on the top of our list. With the opening of Saudi Arabia, we are looking into this pretty hard right now. ( That’s an inside scoop! Maybe next year or the year after)

    • Expedition Overland via Sea: Sailing and Overlanding the islands of the Caribbean (some great 4×4 opportunities on Eleuthera, some amazing mountains on St Lucia, etc and adding sailing/motoring is an additional challenge to learn/overcome)

This would be an amazing series. I think it would be very cool to see a group of people have to demonstrate a wide range of adventure skill sets while seeing the world. We introduced Powered Paragliding last year into our Great Pursuit series and it was very rewarding to incorporate more skill sets and adventures on an overland journey.

Author’s note: as a licensed sailing captain, car enthusiast and former military officer, I’m officially volunteering/applying to be a part of this expedition Clay!

 

    • Expedition Overland: South America, the East Coast. 

Yes, this is also talked about often in our teams. We completed the Pan American Highway but completing a circumnavigation of south America would be the next level of exploration there. It’s been discussed amongst the team! 

    • Any others? What’s next for Expedition Overland? 

This year we incorporated a new series into our channel. It’s called SOLO “One truck, One Crew, Infinite adventures”. The series focuses on one truck and one crew as they tackle an objective. We recently just completed the shooting of the Arctic Solo series which will air May 21st on our Youtube channel. We have a couple more planned for this year so stay tuned. There is something for everybody this year. 

  • How is your team working and staying safe through COVID19?  

We have been fortunate to continue working through this challenging time. Our supporters such as our presenting sponsor General Tire continued their backing and that has kept us in business and producing content. It has been amazing to see all of our sponsor’s and audience support through all this. So, business is good, and our focus has turned to producing content for our audience during this hard time.  As families, we have capitalized on our time together. Something we needed more of. We set up a schedule and we are sticking to it. It’s been amazing to see what our team and families have been able to achieve. It hasn’t all been easy but we are fortunate for our work and health. 

If you haven’t seen the expedition overland series on Amazon yet, go check it out.  Be sure to follow Clay and his Expedition Overland adventures on social media as well.

#xoverland #soloseries #expeditionoverland #xoverlandsolo

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