Some say that the best surf car is the one that gets you to the beach. This is true from a practical perspective but, for those of us seeking adventure, comfort and style, there is plenty to aspire to.

The best surf car needs to be:

  • Rugged and durable: your car will be subjected to long periods of salt air exposure.
  • Able to drive off-road: allows you to get intrepid and seek out uncrowded spots.
  • Economical and light on fuel: better for the environment and your bank balance.
  • Reliable: you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
  • Large enough to sleep in.
  • Large enough to comfortably carry boards inside.

Here are our top 4 choices for the surf lifestyle.

The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series Wagon

The Toyota Land Cruiser is a beast and a legend. You see these vehicles in the farthest reaches of Africa, growling their way across the terrain suited only to wild animals. The Toyota 70 Series may not offer luxury or frills, but you’re getting a vehicle that may outlive both you and your offspring. Sure you’re bypassing all of the creature comforts of the Prada in favour of old-school simplicity, but less moving parts means less to worry about.

Specifications

  • Body type: SUV, 4 Doors, 2 Seats
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Engine: 8 cyl, 4.5 L
  • Drive type: 4WD
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Fuel consumption: 10.7 L / 100 km
  • Price: $49,000 US Dollars

Why?

It is a workhorse that may exceed a surfer’s simple requirements, but it’ll never let you down. Used in mining and remote exploration, the Land Cruise will take life’s knocks – and that includes rivers, mountains and the loosest of sand.

The Wagon version of this vehicle will allow for easy carriage of boards and a comfy place to stash a mattress in the back.

Watch it in action

Seeing a fleet of the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series approaching your secret beach break is enough to strike terror into any adventurers heart. It’s part Mad Max, part 4WD petrol head heaven. Watch every variation of this workhorse let loose, en masse.


The Volkswagen California Ocean

No list of surf vehicles would be complete without a VW van. Since the advent of Kombis, the VW bus has been a quintessential icon of surf culture. These cars allowed surfers to venture off the beaten track and give names to the surf spots we all love today.

In terms of design it would be true to say that not much has changed, except everything has changed.

Specifications

  • Body type: Van
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Engine: 4 cyl, 2 L
  • Drive type: AWD (4Motion Permanent AWD)
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Fuel consumption: 8.8 L / 100 km
  • Price: $90,500 US Dollars

Why?

The basics of the bus are: a vehicle that contains your bed, a cooking area, a fridge, and water tank. Today’s California provides for the same human needs as it’s revered predecessors. But what has changed is the build, the engine, drivability and temperament of the vehicle. Worry no longer about overheating while driving uphill on a summer day (my 1972 Kombi needed rest breaks in such situations).

Based on a VW Transporter, which is arguably the finest delivery van on the market, the California is a true “Transformer”. The front seats swivel round so you can comfortably seat four people at the table for dinner. The popup roof means you can stand up easily, plus allows two people to sleep up top.

When you get to your dream surf destination the California includes everything you’ll need: stainless steel sink, two-burner stove, fridge, on-board fresh and waste water tanks, gas storage compartment, and electric hook-up. You’ve also got App-Connect, allowing you to listen to Spotify and stay connected through the long drive.

Best of all is the fine Volkswagen attention to detail.

Watch it in action

To afford a $100k+ vehicle, you’re probably not much of a hippy. But you will be happy. Enjoy a preview of the life you might lead in a California.


The Mercedes G Wagon

If the Toyota Land Cruiser is a workhorse, then the Mercedes G-Class SUV is a dragon. This vehicle is rugged and boxy, based on a design that has lasted for three decades, while boasting Mercedes luxury and refinement in every detail.

Build quality of the G-Class is as good as you’ll get in any vehicle available. Top Gear said, “A bygone era 4×4, designed back when SUVs were specifically for going off-road. Built like a tank – but on-road it’s a different story.”

Specifications

  • Body type: SUV
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Engine: 4.0 L, v-8
  • Drive type: 4WD
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Fuel consumption: 8.8 L / 100 km
  • Price: $122,000 US Dollars

Why?

You want a 4×4 that is both luxurious, powerful, and will survive a zombie apocalypse. This thing will get you to the top of nearly any mountain, provide sleeping room in the back, and then bring you back down when you’re ready to face the world once again.

If you can afford Mercedes quality and ongoing maintenance, and you’re a hardcore 4WD enthusiast, then this is the choice. Don’t stress about its loose performance on the freeway, who needs bitumen anyway?

Watch it in action

From the ocean to the mountains, the off-road way. Take a journey with the mouth-watering AMG version of the G-Class and start writing down all the places you’ll go.


The Subaru Outback 2017

Synonymous with Australian surf trips, the Subaru Outback is a perfect choice for surfers looking for performance, quality, price and practicality. Firstly, you’re driving a normal, albeit high-performance, vehicle around town. You wont be churning up the tarmac as you might with some of the beasts above.

Secondly, you’ve got that spacious back area, and seats that fold flat, allowing your average-sized human plenty of room to stretch out between surf sessions.  

Specifications

  • Body type: Crossover SUV
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Engine: 2.5 L, 4 cyl
  • Drive type: AWD
  • Fuel type: Petrol
  • Fuel consumption: 7.3 L / 100 km
  • Price: $25,000 US Dollars

Why?

The Subaru Outback is an iconic vehicle, designed to meet and exceed most modern driving needs. If you plan on hitting the dirt tracks then X-Mode provides an intelligent assistant for lower-speed driving. It is remarkably responsive and will deliver you to the beach safe and sound, and possibly invigorated.

The roar of a Subaru engine is unmistakeable, and for a whole lot less cash than the models listed above you have an awesome road car, coupled with an intrepid action vehicle that won’t let you down.

It doesn’t boast the space of the California or the luxury of the Merc, and it certainly won’t make everywhere the Land Cruiser can go. But it is a sensible choice.

Watch it in action

The growl, the handling, the road clearance and the solid frame. You can’t go wrong.


Our Verdict

We have featured four very different vehicles that would all make the perfect surf car. The decision is all around space, price, and practicality.

If you plan on going away often (like every second weekend) then get the California. You’ll love the freedom and ability to stretch out in the back. It is perfect for those with a family, who can’t all fit in the back of a SUV, and who don’t like camping in tents.

If you are going to extreme locations, then you’ll need the Toyota or Mercedes. Your only decision is how much you wish to spend. I’d go for the Merc G-Class, which is beyond gangster.

The Subaru is your all-rounder: an immensely powerful, rock-solid machine, at a fraction of the cost of the California and Mercedes.

So there you are. Where will you go next?