We'd wager a bet that the 79 Series LandCruiser is the most modified vehicle in Australia.
We're a big fan of the Toyota 79 Series LandCruiser at CarAdvice; fan enough to buy one of our own for tootling around town and escaping into the bush whenever possible. The 79 Series' antiquated design and underpinnings are its biggest assets, an ideal platform and a great candidate for modification.
Very few 70 Series LandCruisers you see out in the bush or around town are left unmodified. They have some serious flaws, and a lot of untapped potential without any fettling. The problem is, where do you stop?
The Australian 4WD Industry is grappling with that question at the moment, as they roll out more and more impressive builds of the 79 Series LandCruiser for punters to ogle.
We attended the Melbourne 4X4 Show recently, and the amount of 79 Series LandCruisers on show was impressive. Not only the number, but the extent to which they were modified. So let's have a closer look at the special ones.
The 'Mighty 79'
If you've ever seen a catalogue or advertisement for aftermarket specialist ARB, you will likely have seen some of Michael Ellem's work. He is the main man behind the camera for Offroad Images, one of the better known outfits that specialises in 4WD photography.
This 79 is the Offroad Images 4WD, which is hard at work most of the year criss-crossing Australia in the search for some of the best and most beautiful destinations accessible by 4WD. You wouldn't know looking at it, but this thing is kept meticulously clean. The majority of barwork and protection is courtesy of ARB, along with its flash BP-51 suspension, GVM upgrade and LED driving lights.
Marks Adaptors portal axles are one of the most significant mods, along with a Trig Point service body. Rather than a slide-on canopy that uses a tray, the Trig Point setup bolts straight onto the chassis.That means it mounts lower and can be lighter overall, but you lose the versatility of having a tray that you can revert to.
Marks Adaptors is an Australian company, which designs, engineers and makes these portal axles in Australia. Portals allow the legal fitment of 35-inch BFGoodrich rubber, along with massively increasing the track width and overall ground clearance. There's also an ARB Frontier long-range tank, which is made from poly and gives you 180 litres of fuel capacity. This 79 has so far done over 50,000 kays with the mods fitted, without any issues.
The interior of the Trig Point canopy is impressive, and kept impressively clean. MSA's lightweight aluminium drawers provide the majority of storage in the back, while auxiliary power is controlled by the latest and greatest Redarc has to offer, including the RedVision management system.
There's also plenty of work done inside, with a Power Vision Sound steering wheel and infotainment upgrade, Recaro seats, and an upgraded centre console. Under the bonnet, there's a Safari Armax module to increase the engine's outputs, along with an Armax snorkel.
The team at Alpine has noticed the blank canvas potential of the LandCruiser's basic interior, and is showing off some of its own gear with a show vehicle. It's similar gear you have seen installed on our own LandCruiser at Automotive Superstore, and its gear we are quite happy with: a 9.0-inch infotainment display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, rear-view camera and digital radio.
In a similar setup to our LandCruiser, there is an additional subwoofer and amplifier tucked away behind the back seat, as well as additional speakers in the doors. Going from an '80s inspired stereo and two tinny speakers into something with a bit of grunt and clarity makes a world of difference.
The theme of serious and extensive mechanical modifications continue here: Marks Adaptors portal axles, big rubber and a custom tray and canopy setup ensures this Alpine LandCruiser really looks the part from the outside. ARB barwork and Lightforce driving lights are a bit of a classic combination, as well.
'Back In Black'
Fresh (or not so fresh) from filming a new season, this is the latest All 4 Adventure build. If you've seen the show, you'll know how hard these guys drive their vehicles. There's lots of work underneath this rig, with a Creative Conversions 300mm chassis extension, which moves that rear axle to a much better location for load carrying and off-roading.
This rig also has a coil conversion, courtesy of Superior Engineering in NSW. There are clear benefits of going to a coil-sprung rear end, with improved ground clearance, as well as being better on- and off-road the chief amongst them.
This 79 Series has had a fair amount of work done under the bonnet. The standard exhaust, airbox and turbocharger have all been turfed in favour for aftermarket gear, in the quest for more power. Topping it all off is a remap from Just Autos.
You'll notice there is a lightbar buried in the bonnet scoop; this is done because they've gone for a front-mounted intercooler conversion. This gives you a bigger intercooler that works better on higher horsepower setups, with less issues with heat soaking.
There's a nice Norweld Deluxe canopy on the back, with a tray built to suit the 300mm chassis extension. We like the option of a Dometic upright fridge in the back, which does save a few kilograms in comparison to a chest fridge and drop slide.
79SkoobyA 79 Series LandCruiser that has become famous thanks to Instagram, the 79 Skooby was on the Opposite Lock stand for the Melbourne 4X4 show. It's also sporting Marks Adaptors portals, which have racked up an impressive 115,000 kilometres since being fitted. That includes a run up to Cape York and back, and stacks of off-roading in the meantime.
The Retro PatriotWho doesn't love a retro design, especially when the car is already kind of vintage anyway? Patriot Campers is well known for its highly specced and often outrageous 79 Series LandCruiser builds, with the 6X6 they built last year being, well, crazy.Patriot Campers has taken a different tack for the 2019 show season, with a throwback theme onto one of its 'Supertourer' builds. It all starts with the Sandy Taupe colour, made even better with retro-themed vinyl decals along the side. There's a retro grille and bonnet emblem, but special mention must go to the grandfather-spec sun visor, rear window louvres, and 4WD badge stolen straight off a 40 Series LandCruiser. Nice attention to detail.
Underneath the PCOR powder-coated aluminium tray is something pretty special, and a new option for those wanting an all-out LandCruiser build. It's the Jmacx 4495kg GVM coil conversion, which lops off the LandCruiser's chassis from underneath the rear doors, and replaces it with bigger, stronger rails and five-link suspension geometry. The conversion, a 300mm chassis extension, also increases the towing capacity to 4000kg. And don't forget the new fabricated diff housing, which corrects the track width disparity.
The engine has been fettled on this retro tourer, as well. There's a PWR top-mount intercooler, helped along by thermo fans. Along with a Torqit exhaust and module, it warrants the need for an upgraded NPC clutch. And don't forget, this 79 also comes with a retro-themed Patriot X1N 'Desert Ops'.
From Outer Space
This is the Power Vision Sound show car, which looks quite outrageous in the 3M Deep Space vinyl wrap. Power Vision Sound has built a strong reputation for upgrading the basic interior of the 79 Series LandCruiser. The company has a big range of aftermarket steering wheel options, which it sources from a Toyota Tundra to fit onto a 70 Series LandCruiser. They give you a much more modern setup, with high-end finishes and additional steering wheel controls.
Power Vision Sound was previewing its latest infotainment option at the Melbourne 4X4 Show, which is called a 'Tesla' head unit. It's a huge portrait-style display, that includes all of the latest digital amenities and connectivity. It looks impressive and will be interesting to see close-up when it is released.
That's not to say this 79 is just an exercise of the interior. Portal axles, Nitto Mud Grapplers and a custom tray and canopy setup complete the look of an impressive 79 Series LandCruiser.
The Norweld LandCruisers
We are big fans of this Cairns outfit, and the impressive work it turns out of aluminium for LandCruisers. The design and style of the Norweld trays and canopies don't stand still, and you can see a few subtle changes to its offerings with these show cars.
One big change is the move to an upright fridge in the canopy, which has big weight saving potential over having a chest fridge and drop slide. A smaller change is some new design locking handles, which Norweld itself designed and hold the patent on.
Both of these vehicles show off more than just the Norweld catalogue, however. One has a Jmacx coil conversion and track correction, and the 'Big Bad' LandCruiser, freshly painted in a Jeep Anvil colour, is sporting some big power modifications under the bonnet from Power Torque in Victoria.
Next to a 76 Series LandCruiser that is fresh from a coil conversion, is a bit of a veteran of the Australian 4X4 show scene: the Ironman 4X4 79 Series. It's here to show of some of Ironman's gear, which includes its Foam Cell Pro suspension, combination-style driving lights, barwork and auxiliary 12V gear.
There are Marks Adaptors Portal Axles underneath this rig, along with some Nitto Trail Grappler rubber. There's a tray and slide-on canopy on the back, and an Alu-Cab hardshell rooftop tent above. This is a South African company that dates back to 1999, but is now being distributed in Australia by Ironman 4X4.
Check out the gallery for a handful more 79 Series LandCruisers from the show, including the Boss Aluminium 6X6 79.