Maltec carbon- made 4×4 expedition cabin
Each year, the 4×4 world sees its arrival of fresh ideas, such as the carbon made expedition cabin. Long road trip travellers are more and more numerous in adding to their 4×4 a removable cabin, or fix a cabin to it, transforming it into a proper mini studio fitted with all sorts of equipment, which allows for long travels with added comfort only stretching over a few square meters. Modul Auto is the place where we came across one of the latest novelties: The Maltec expedition cabin made from carbon.
Christophe Girard, the owner of Modul’Auto, is always on the look out for new accessories and 4×4 equipments, with the added note of keeping quality as a priority.
When he invited us to meet him to discover the new Maltec expedition cabins, I was expecting a pleasant surprise, however, the 3 preparations we witnessed were beyond our expectations.
Ready for our visit, we were able to have a close look at 3 cabins. One mounted on a Toyota HZJ 105, Africa version from the popular HDJ 100, and the other 2 were fitted on Hilux models, one simple 2,5l 144ch cabin, and one double with the 3,0l 171 ch .
The Maltec cabins cellules Maltec are fixed cabins that can be fitted and adapted onto different 4×4 models. This requires modifying the original bodywork to fit the new cabin onto it.
Malte, who is a young 27 year old man, who manages Maltec company, has a trail of experiences in travelling and trekking, as well as in the making of cabins as his first encounter was through working for a German company making 4×4 cabins. A few years ago, he decided to work independently. He carefully listened to his customer requirements and from there on developed his own conceptual cabin 100 giving particular attention to lightness, sturdiness and habitability.
He first looked at composite materials for his trial versions, to then decide using carbon, which has the advantage of being resistant, durable, but which is also incredibly light. The overall shape of the cabin remains the same no matter which 4×4 model one uses, but it can be painted the same colour as the bodywork.
Malte has equipped various Toyota models: Hilux, / HDJ 80/ HDJ 100 / HZJ 105 / and other series 7, Iveco 4×4 trucks, Mercedes made for ORC as well as Land Rovers made for Matzker, these two latest companies are well known builders in Germany. The cabin can be accessed through the front seats which is an added security. That means in case of a problem one does not need to exit the vehicle to start it. The roof is extendible, this way one can stand in the cabin and the interior space is increased. The entrance is through a back door that opens towards the top to allow for easy access into the cabin. Malte also deals with various types of protection but also suspensions. He favours Reiger made suspensions.
Inside the cabin you will find a piece of composite aluminium covered furniture including various drawers and cupboards. The material used combines resistance, design and is easily kept clean. The drawers are adjustable, covered inside by a kind of rubber, to avoid pots and pans clanck noises. A 2 rings stove and a sink are fitted on the top.
Of course the cabin is fitted with a Webasto auxiliary heater as well as, all according to various choices of options, a fridge, a freezer, 220V power electricity supply and a tank of hot water for the shower. Each item has its place, it has all been thought out carefully. For instance, the plates are rightly sized to fit in perfectly to a millimetre into their storage, and a small table surface can be simply attached for dinner time!
If the wind blows too strongly , and you are unable to unfold the roof and its bedding, it does not matter as you can transform the seat into a double bed. The finishing touches are faultless and the atmosphere top notch. After all, it is important to have a comfortable and enjoyable living space if you are to travel for several months. All the couples I have met have told me how they have appreciated the comfort of the sleeping arrangement, the shower, the possibility of doing their own cooking and live in the cabin in bad weather conditions. In short, a no fault run for this feature!
The unconventional shape of the cabin has allowed the 4×4 to keep its elevated angle. This is a useful point when one wishes to travel off tracks, in sand dunes for instance or basin shaped passages. The weight of the vehicle is correct and its conception means it holds a low gravity centre, which is ideal to cross inclined areas without taking the risk of tipping over to its side.
There is very little slack and that is a positive feature. Believe me, after spending several hours a day, for a long period, a vehicle that sways can become tiring, but here we travel in comfort. I will not be contradicted by this owner of an HZJ 105 who is now 72 years old. His wife and him have now covered over 50,000 kms of tracks in various countries, including a journey in direction of Mongolia that lasted several months. Their choice of the Maltec cabin was a judicious one, its lightness means avoiding a premature aging of the mechanics, the axles, and the suspensions.