It’s old, it’s overpriced, it’s slow and it’s thirsty. It’s also expensive, awful in traffic, and come to think of it, not exactly great on the highway either.
It’s also a legend in its own right, and regularly outsells some of the cheaper, faster, safer and more efficient competition out there.
It’s the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series, in double cab format. And we’ve bought one to keep at CarAdvice.
It’s in GXL spec, and graphite in colour. Graphite closely beat out the iconic Sandy Taupe colour, and the addition of locking differentials makes the GXL specification a no-brainer.
Why a 70 Series? Probably for the same reason why 10,000 other Australians threw down a big premium for one in 2018. Live axles front and rear feel like a devilish treat these days, and amongst the sea of smaller capacity, higher output diesel engines, the 4.5-litre diesel V8 sticks out like a sore thumb (in a good way).
We knew what we wanted, and used the handy feature of the Toyota Australia website to see which dealerships nearby had stock that suited us. After making a few phone calls over a few days, we managed to nab one without a tray or registration, with a fleet price of just over $68,000.
However, we weren’t your typical buyer. Firstly, fleet pricing muddies the waters compared to what others can secure. We also opted to purchase the LandCruiser without a tray. The genuine Toyota tray costs extra, and it’s required for registration. Also included in our price was a tow bar and Redarc electric brakes, floor mats and the optional heritage-style grille.
There’s no doubt that while the LandCruiser is something many aspire to, you can’t discount the fact they're a pretty basic and simple farm truck with plenty of negatives you have to take on-board. No automatic gearbox, high roll-centre and low gearing makes it somewhat laborious to drive in anything resembling traffic. And while there is stacks of effortless torque from the 4.5-litre diesel V8, it’s pretty thirsty and not exactly fast.
Without a tray, our brand-new LandCruiser with a mere 20 kilometres on the odometer, was also rolled off the showroom floor unregistered. Why? Why buy a car that you can’t drive away? I agree with you, it makes a fun event of driving away in a brand-new car quite a complicated procedure. Our situation was made easier by the very friendly and helpful team at Penrith Toyota (and their trade plate), and a couple of unregistered vehicle permits from the RMS. They're $28 dollars for a day, which includes insurance.
The extra effort is worth it in the long run: that bare chassis on the back is now a beautiful blank canvas. But it wasn’t staying that way for long. Our first stop was an unassuming little workshop in Chipping Norton, surrounded by the Georges River in southern Sydney.
This is home to the Sydney outpost for Norweld, an Australian company that manufactures some seriously nice trays and canopies for 4WD utes. We’ve chosen to fit up one of these, in lieu of Toyota’s factory steel tray.
Why go to all of this effort? Because the Norweld tray is a vastly superior offering. It’s made of high-grade aluminium, which works out to be lighter, stronger and much less rusty than steel. The Norweld design has a lot more in-built storage, as well. Along the two side boxes, there’s 43 litres of water storage tucked away underneath, and a huge dust-proof and waterproof sliding trundle drawer (big enough for two sets of Maxtrax, side-by-side.)
The headboard is a pretty stunning piece of fabrication. Spare wheels mount to it simply and strongly, and the tray sides are equally high quality. Once you start looking at the closer details, you only become more impressed. It’s a very nicely made piece of fabrication.
The most important aspect for me is weight. With all the extra storage included, the Norweld tray weighs around the same as the factory tray without any included storage. Longevity is another: as long as you keep up with a bit of Silvo (or similar), the Norweld tray should last for decades. Or at least, as long as our LandCruiser.