Classic 4x4s Vs. The Australian Outback
This is how a 4×4 parts manufacturer shakes down old trucks.
After months of work and restoration, our Toyota Land Cruiser project finally has license plates. Now we're in the process of figuring out an appropriate adventure to take it on. The hunt for inspiration had me digging through some Land Cruiser history, which led me to a good example of how to go about offroad adventuring.
ARB, maker of really cool 4x4 accessories, celebrated its 40th year in business by doing what any truck lover would want to do. The company built four classic trucks — an FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser, a Toyota Hilux pickup, a Nissan Patrol, and a Land Rover Defender — and took them on an epic journey across the Australian outback.
From their reports, it looks like the trail was grueling, even for these beefed up rigs. Mechanical failures and trailside ingenuity were required to get through the toughest parts. Axles broke, alternators shit the bed – you know, standard road trip stuff. ARB's Matt Glass told me that the trip, which was supposed to be through the desert, wasn't what everyone expected. Unusually prolific rainfall turned Australia's normally arid interior into a collection of overgrown mud holes, many impassable even to these capable off-road rigs.
ARB was driving trucks endemic to Australia, and that's no accident. First off, although ARB has a prominent arm here in the U.S., it's an Australian company. Second — and perhaps most important — you just don't wheel in a machine you can't find parts for locally. Case in point: they needed an ignition coil for the FJ40, which can actually be found at junkyards in Oz. Try to find Toyota Land Cruiser parts at any old junkyard here. I dare you. (Why do you think we stuffed a ubiquitous-in-North-America Chevy V8 in our FJ62?)
In any event, this overland truck trip has inspired us to put on our thinking caps. Where do you think we should go to put our Land Cruiser through its paces?