Gavin’s VX200 V8 Landcruiser is one kitted out rig! With just 26km on the clock the Cruiser build began. Gavin grew up in the Pilbara so he’s been a keen explorer from a young age. Here’s what Gavin shared about how the Cruiser’s setup for his adventures.
Why did you choose this make/model?
That’s easy, the 200 series is the best 4×4 platform to build upon for long range touring there is. It can carry huge weights (with the appropriate GVM upgrade) and has the power and running gear to carry it all unmodified, while maintaining decent mileage over all terrains. I never thought I’d say this but even the traction control is bloody good. All these modifications just build upon that solid foundation.
Where has it taken you or what trips do you have planned with the car?
I have toured WA extensively from the Pilbara down to the Eucla. In a few days I leave again on a solo tour of the Kimberley and the Canning Stock Route for 48 days unsupported, all while filming the adventure for my YouTube channel.
A few months ago I had the privilege of filming the SA 2017 Variety 4WD Challenge as they toured the South Flinders range on numerous private and Government tracks that are not available to the public. Incredible event with amazing people, if you have never joined a Variety 4WD Challenge you need to drop what your doing now and sign up. These guys do world class events that every true 4×4 enthusiast should know about and the best part is you get to raise funds for kids while having a blast in the bush, does it get any better than that?
What exterior mods have you done? Bar work/protection gear and what’s connected to it?
TJM – T13 Deluxe Steel Winch Bar with OX Winch 12,000LB and Synthetic Winch Rope
TJM – Modular Side Steps with 3″ Tubing, Chrome Checker Plate.
TJM – Brush Bars and Side Rails 3″ Tubing
TJM – 3mm Reinforced Steel Under body protection plates (Sump, Transmission Guards)
OA – Heavy Duty Steel Duel Wheel Carrier
All amour is colour coded to match the body.
2 x 245mm X-Ray 90 watt LED Spot Lights (Both Spread Beams)
1 x 40″ Rigid Industries LED Lightbar (Rooftop Mounted)
1 x 6″ Rigid Industries LED Light bar (Wired into Reverse Lights)
4 x 6″ Rigid Industries LED Flood Lights for 360 Degree Camp Lighting
6 x 1″ Rigid Industries LED Rock Lights (White)
Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform (2728mm x 1465mm) with Rhino-Rack Backbone 4 Base Mounting System
James Boroud EVO Roof Top Tent
Rhino Shovel holder MAXTRAX mount and I think that’s about it for now.
Can you explain your suspension and driveline mods?
Getting the suspension right was a bit of a nightmare to be honest. It took a few sets of springs and a change of shocks before I finally got it right. There wasn’t a lot of literature around and still isn’t for the most part but it was very hard to calculate the true weight of everything especially when i keep adding more gear to the cruiser all the time. I finally settled on 600kg King springs in the rear, 150kg Springs in the front and ARB’s new BP-51’s remote reservoir shocks all around with the standard 2 inch lift coupled with Total Chaos Upper Control Arms. Now she articulates over the huge North West boulders we get here in the creeks and around the Burrup Peninsula and smoothly carves up the long miles of corrugations I throw at it.
I added a set of TJM’s pneumatic diff-locks to the cruiser from new but the traction control in the 200 series is amazing so they don’t get used that often. It took me a long time to find wheels I liked too, I stepped down from the 18″ alloy’s Toyota puts on the cruiser, their no good when your looking for tyre’s in some remote community or roadhouse. I replaced them with 17″ basic steel wheels for about a year but eventually I found an Aussie company called Boss that made the false beadlock wheels I like and have on the cruiser to this day, their called Boss Adventures, so far they are holding up to the punishment really well.
For the longest time I ran Mickey Thompson MTZ’s on my 4WD’s and loved them but when I got the 200 series I thought I should broaden my horizons when it came to tyre’s. I picked up a set of 6 Coopers ST-Maxx, after all they come out of the same factory as the Mickey Thompsons and I liked the aggressive pattern for an all-terrain. The Pilbara has countless hours of high speed dirt tracks so I thought an all-terrain would get the job done, man was i wrong. I repaired more flat tyre’s in the first 12 months of owning those Coopers tyre’s than all the rest of my time 4wding. So I changed back to mud terrains and this time I went for the BF Goodrich KM2’s and haven’t had a puncture since. I think I asked too much of an all-terrain tyre in a challenging environment.
What engine mods have you done?
Can I plead the 5th? No- well I’ve done a lot, or my mechanics has I should say. It started with a standard snorkel from Safari and then suddenly there was 900nm of torque and 279hp. The 4.5L TTD V8 can breath a little better now thanks to some airbox modifications and Twin 3″ Manta exhaust system. After that was the ECU and transmission remapping done by Richards Auto Electrical out in a Paddock, in South Australia. Seriously, these guys rock and helped me out more than you could know by coming to me 3 hours from Adelaide. If you want an animal under the bonnet you need to call them. They also installed a torque converter lockup kit that changed my world overnight. The 4000kms to South Australia I used 17L/100, on the way home it was down to 12.6L/100 after the ECU/transmission remap and lockup kit was installed, all while increasing power 20-30%.
In the future I want to get my hands on the first LegendX 200 series intercooler they have been developing. I have a feeling that new intercooler is going to do amazing things for me here in the Pilbara, especially when its 54°c outside and I still want to go 4wding on the weekend.
To protect my engine I have the Provent 200 oil catch-can and a secondary fuel management pre filter. The fuel in the Pilbara/Kimberley and remote communities I often visit can be terrible, especially in the wet season when old tanks start to condensate, water contamination is a real problem you need to protect against if traveling through the North West.
The last item of interest I have under the bonnet is some custom BRC diff breathers that bring both diffs, the gearbox and transmission breathers into the engine bay.
What interior mods have you done?
I have a lot of fun with the interior of my 4WD, the headliner and dash are covered with the patches of my favorite Overlanding YouTube groups. In the USA they have a patch exchange system, you show me yours and I will show you mine kind of thing. So I got some patches made that we swap together and then the rest I sell with proceeds going to Variety.
I also love gadgets, my dash is full of digital technology telling me where to go and what the outside air pressure is. I still don’t know why that’s important but my Ultra Gauge tells me just the same. I have 3 GPS units, the one built into the car that I have custom upgraded with my favorite maps. I have an iPad Mini 4 now for creating turn by turn navigation plans to share with my friends and its connected to a Bad Elf GPS Pro for connecting 5 GPS devices at a time such as my phone and iPad via Bluetooth for enhanced GPS accuracy. It’s also handy because you can put it in your pocket and go hiking with it and it provides accurate GPS to your phone even when your days from civilization. I also have a standard HEMA HX1 for road and off-road navigation and basic logging of trips.
To communicate with the outside world I have 2 GME UHF Radios plugged into an 8.8dB and 6.6dB antennas. I have a Iridium Extreme 9575 Sat-phone that I never leave home without. The sat-phone does all my live tracking so my wife can see where I am when I’m away on one of my longer trips. We can call and text of course but it also can act like an EPIRB with its own built in Satellite SOS function so its a very handy piece of kit to have with you when your weeks down a remote track.
Lastly I have all my switches, battery monitors and gauges tucked away where you cant see them because when I first got the car I had this crazy idea of making it look stock inside. That’s a faint memory now.
Tell us about your rear setup
I have the ARB outback twin draw setup combined with a T piece cargo barrier so I have an extra level of storage. My solar panels and charger’s live up there permanently. I have a fairly standard fridge slide but I really need to get a tilt or drop down slide someday. Even at 6″3 I’m not tall enough to see into my fridge unless its on perfectly flat ground and you don’t find a lot of that in the bush.
In the draws I dedicate 1 draw to basic food supplies and the ever important Jet-boil and coffee making gear. The second draw I have setup with some basic tools and recovery equipment. I also have the Right wing stuffed with cutlery, BBQ utensils and on longer trips bottles of wine packed in MSA wine stubby holders. They do a great job of keeping the wine safe I must say. The right wing stores a 150Ah battery unit for the fridge and accessories.
What electrical setup do you have?
My power system is managed by a Red Arc Battery Management System and is coupled to a 150 Amp Hour DC Battery installed into the rear right wing of the draws. To protect everything I have a battery charger/Isolator, 3 stage 25A Suit Variable Voltage Alt >12.7V Red Arc Relay Kit and battery monitor installed into rear draws with Narva fuse box and breaker kit behind the rear seats to keep everything well labeled and easy to access. A 900 watt pure sine wave inverter keeps the camera batteries charged and the drones in the air, not just mine but there is enough power there to charge my friends gear as well if needed. For those extended stops I use a 120 watt solar panel with Anderson plug on the rear wheel carrier for charging the Auxiliary battery and one on the bull bar for charging the starter batteries if I forget to turn a light off. Lastly I have a National Luna Battery Monitor installed into the glove box but I’m not a huge fan of that placement now and tend to just use the gauge on the back.
What is your favourite thing about your rig and would you change anything if you could do it all again?
Definitely all the engine modifications I had installed while I was in South Australia are my favorite thing about this 4WD. This 200 series is a beast and the drivability went through the roof as a result of all their hard work. A close second would be the cabin area in general, it’s just a pleasure to drive. Comfortable leather seats, surrounded by heaps of great mapping gear and the patches from friends I have made from all over the world. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Do you have any future plans for your rig?
I have a couple, for a long time now I have been trying to get an Alucab 270 awning but they are rear as rocking horse shit in the North West. I have been trying to get one for months but haven’t had any luck yet.
I’m thinking about putting 6 x 220 LED lights on my cruiser, 4 on the roof and 2 to replace the 245’s I’m currently running up front. I also want to cut 2 small 4″ LED lights into the wing of my bullbar to give me basically 360 light around my 4WD once that’s done.
The last thing on the list will be a custom vehicle wrap to promote my YouTube work and that might be it after that.
See more about Gavin’s adventure at www.summitx.net