Meet Our Newest Oracle Lighting Project Vehicle - The LMTV
We love getting outside and exploring. Even before overlanding blew up in popularity, many embraced exploring off the grid and discovering more remote regions of this great country. Back then, it was called car camping and there wasn’t the awesome specialized gear and vehicles that there are today. Whether referred to as overlanding, weekendlanding or just camping, there is something therapeutic about getting out in nature, disconnecting from modern society, and visiting distant areas only accessible by four-wheel drive.
Now, we find ourselves wanting to go further into the wilds and for longer durations. For some of us, roughing it in a ground tent in a surprise downpour doesn’t sound as appealing as it once might have. So, we set out to find a reliable four-wheel-drive vehicle with the capability to take us deep into the backcountry. Beyond those two essential qualities, it also had to be comfortable enough to live in during extended excursions.
That set of qualifications narrowed down the list of potential vehicles dramatically. While there are pre-built vehicles out there that fit the bill, most are extremely expensive and weren’t outfitted precisely how we wanted. Building our own overland rig would let us construct a vehicle that perfectly fit our needs. After a lot of thought, we selected a unique rig that we will transform into the ultimate base of operations and home away from home. Meet our latest Oracle Lighting project vehicle: the Stewart & Stevenson M1979 LMTV.
What The Heck Is A LMTV?
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Army sought a replacement for its aging fleet of M809 trucks. While less flashy or headline-grabbing than a new tank, trucks are the backbone of the U.S. Army, moving soldiers, ammunition, fuel, food, supplies, and everything else needed in a war. The Army’s new truck needed to be reliable, efficient, transportable, easy to maintain and low-cost. Showing the importance of the task, a months-long grueling series of selection trials were held. Eventually, an Austrian Steyr design was selected as the winner, and Stewart & Stevenson was awarded the contract to build both the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) and the larger Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV).
The LMTV was a serious departure from the U.S. Army’s previous and antiquated trucks. Its cab-over design made it smaller and more maneuverable. And it achieved a 2.5-ton payload rating with only two axles making it less cumbersome than 6x6s. Thousands of Stewart & Stevenson LMTVs saw use in Iraq, Afghanistan and worldwide, with Oshkosh eventually taking over its production in 2012.
Why Did We Pick It?
As the saying goes, the LMTV has good bones. It was designed for harsh off-road use and abuse from the ground up. Using “Light” in its description is a bit of a misnomer. The LMTV might be light for an army used to 73-ton Abrams tanks, but it has a curb weight of 18,000 lbs. Everything is overbuilt and heavy-duty, as breaking down in a warzone isn’t exactly ideal. A venerable 6.6-liter Caterpillar turbo inline-six diesel engine powers the LMTV, backed by an equally stout Allison seven-speed transmission. Giant 46-inch tires with a central tire inflation system make the LMTV highly capable off-road. And its smaller dimensions compared to previous military trucks lets it traverse normal-width dirt roads and two tracks without getting thrashed.
Another reason we picked the LMTV is that it comes in a huge number of variations. Beyond the typical open-bed cargo versions, there are also rarer mobile command post and radio variants with giant aluminum boxes on the back like ours. And some, like the one we’ve scored, are even EMP-proof. This gives us a blank slate to build out the interior of our LMTV however we want. And with the LMTV being a military surplus vehicle, it is much cheaper to acquire than most other options giving us a much larger build budget. For us, the LMTV is a major win!
“Most people think of Humvees or the big 5-ton 6x6s when it comes to military vehicles,” explains Oracle Lighting Founder Justin Hartenstien. “The LMTV flies under the radar a bit, but it is definitely a vehicle worth looking at for an overland build. Its workhorse nature makes it rugged, and we can build it exactly how we want.”
What Are Our Plans For It?
The build of our Oracle Lighting LMTV is unique because it will serve multiple functions. We want it to be a legitimate expedition vehicle with serious off-grid capability. But it also needs to work for our needs as a base of operations and as a space to entertain and host at the multiple events we attend every year. And it will also showcase our many excellent off-road LED lighting options. Our goal is to unveil the build at this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas in November.
Our first focus will be building a custom interior for the rear box to fit our LMTV’s multi-role mission perfectly. Then we will add all the systems needed for overlanding and turn our attention to expanding the LMTV’s off-road capability and durability. Although, with its rugged nature and stout components, it doesn’t need much help there. And, of course, we will add plenty of awesome Oracle LED lights during the build to keep exploring after the sun goes down.
“Building our Oracle Lighting LMTV project is going to be a lot of fun,” says Justin. “It’s a unique vehicle with very few ‘off-the-shelf’ parts that fit it. A lot of custom work on our part will be needed, but it is already turning heads. We can’t wait to finish it, show you the results and start using this rig for its intended purpose.”
Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming build updates as we make more progress on our LMTV.