While 4x4 utes need no introduction to the Australian automotive landscape these days, tastes are changing. Once upon a time, the only guys who were fitting trays to their 4WDs were folks needing to shift hay bales and pallets around the place, and a simple flat bed of steel or timber was often the easiest and best solution.
That traditional tray wasn’t an overly complex bit of gear. Thick steel bed, maybe some sides, a headboard, and a smattering of tie down points. It worked, and that’s all that mattered. But, the humble old tray has gone through a bit of a renaissance of late.
Custom-built trays are slowly becoming all the rage in the 4x4 scene. Thanks to some world-class designers, fabricators and manufacturers in Australia, 4WDers have a slew of options. Outback Customs do some impressive stuff out of Caboolture, and Metalink have been building trays and canopies for years. However, as you’d know, the guys at Norweld really caught our eye here at CarAdvice.
The Norweld tray we have fitted to our LandCruiser is an impressive bit of gear, because it’s relatively lightweight, well made from durable materials, and has a lot of built-in storage. It’s only one part of the puzzle, however. Now, it's time to add a canopy.
We’re back at Norweld in Sydney to get the canopy fitted up, something that slots on perfectly. We’ve got the Compact 3.5 model, which sits a bit shorter in terms of height and length. The spare wheels are rear-mounted, but rest on the tray instead of being suspended off the back of the canopy. This is greatly beneficial for weight distribution, and how all of these modifications impact the centre of gravity.
There’s lots of smart little details around this canopy. The rear ladder is simple and strong, and folds easily out of the way. The roof rack can bolt off completely, and there is space for a big wing-style awning. And the attention to detail around the fabrication is impressive.
Inside, there is an Easy Slide drop slide to suit the Engel 80-litre fridge we’re planning on using, which improves access to the fridge. It's a hefty bit of gear. You’ve got a bit of a kitchen setup alongside that, which can soak up a lot of storage space and includes a handy table.
On the other (driver’s) side, it’s all about raw loading space. There’s a 100-Amp hour battery secured on this side, along with a Redarc 1000-Watt inverter. What’s that? In layman’s terms, it turns your vehicle's 12-volt power supply into 240-volt power, just like a house plug.
All of that 12-volt power is supplied via a Redarc Manager 30 setup, which can handle 12-0volt, 240-volt and solar input to charge up your vehicle’s system. There’s a smattering of different power outputs in the canopy, for plugging in and charging up your gear.
On top of the deluxe tray ($11,000), the canopy, as you see it here, has a base price of $11,800. No small amount of money, especially when you’re spending it on top of a new 4x4 purchase. In light of that, the canopy (and tray, for that matter), does impress you with its quality and attention to detail. The simple fact that it’s made from 5083 aluminium, masterfully TIG welded by a team in Cairns, means it’s never going to be cheap.
The wiring package costs an additional $4500, which includes all of the Redarc gear and power outputs. The jacking system (which lets you drop the canopy off and return the ute back to a tray) is a $1200 option, as is the two-pak paint on the doors. Total price for our canopy, including GST: $20,570.
We’ll be adding even more goodies to our Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series in the coming weeks and months, so be sure to stay tuned to CarAdvice for updates.
Click on the Photos tab for more images of our LandCruiser going under the knife.
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