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70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser: Forbidden Fruit

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70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser: Forbidden Fruit


The following are some of the ways to get in touch with each otherAs Americans, we are proud of the unique treasures that make up our country. The Bill of Rights, National Parks, baseball, barbecue, rock and roll — the list goes on. In addition, our cultural melting pot has given us access to a huge variety of iconic creations from foreign shores; we didn’t invent pizza or tacos, but we’ve certainly embraced them. So, it’s always surprising to come across an item that’s essentially unobtainable in America. The 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser is one example.

Above: This truck is also equipped with a detachable awning, and a shower enclosure that includes hot and cool running water.

Produced from 1984 through the present (yes, it’s still in production), the 70-Series is an immensely popular vehicle for militaries, government organizations, and off-road adventurers around the world. However, it was never sold in the United States — we got the rounder and more luxurious 80-Series, sold here from 1990 to 1997. Although it’s possible to bring over some foreign-market 70-Series Land Cruisers under the 25-year-old vehicle import law, making one street-legal comes with a long list of additional headaches and costs, especially if you live in a state with strict emissions regulations.

Photo of a 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser driving through the desert.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series

Tim McGrath, the founder and chief designer of Sackwear overland apparel, fell in awe with the 70-Series Land Cruiser. Especially its 79Series pickup truck model. “The people that know about the 79 wish they sold them here in the States,” he says. He began searching for alternatives to the 79-Series truck, knowing that it would be difficult to legalize an imported 79. This led him to Maltec, a company in Germany that builds custom Land Cruisers that — despite their appearance — are actually based on the easily importable 80-Series chassis. They agreed to build a North American-spec pickup truck with a modified 70 Series cab, a carbon fiber camper and an 80 Series frame.

Photo of a Toyota with the canopy of a bed camper extended.

Above: Setting up camp is easy and only takes a couple of seconds.

The build began with an 80-Series Land Cruiser from 1993. After removing its original body, the frame was stretched in order to match the desired length of the camper. The frame of an 80-Series was fitted with a four-door donor cab. Its back was then cut to allow a pass through into the carbon fiber camper shell. Tim said that the builders were very communicative and listened to all of his requests. “Maltec did a great job keeping me connected with the progress, and sent me lots of emails with photos. I trusted their expertise and craftsmanship since they build really awesome rigs.”

Photo of a 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser driving through the fog.

Above: The Front Runner rooftop rack stores two Alu-Boxes, a large drybag for gear storage and a pair of Alu-Boxes. You can use additional rails to hold a kayak or paddleboards.

Modifications and upgrades

Maltec, in addition to the body modifications and installation of a 4.2L 1HDT turbo-diesel, installed a 5-speed manual transmission. This was a configuration not found on U.S. Land Cruisers. The truck’s underbody is armored with a variety of Maltec skid plates to fend off rocks on the trail; it rides on OME 3-inch-lift springs and OME shocks, 17-inch Braid beadlock wheels, and 37-inch Cooper tires.

Photo of a Toyota driving down a forested road.

Above: This Land Cruiser, despite its many creature-comforts, is not a pavement princess. It can still go just about anywhere and take Tim’s whole family with it.

Tim says this combination balances a spacious interior and compact exterior, with “enough room to travel and sleep four while still remaining small and capable.” He explains, “There’s not a lot of room, but it’s doable — I guess that’s the trade-off. I can wheel this thing to places where most campers can’t go. I love being able to set up anywhere, stay warm and dry and be comfortable. We can even cook inside and watch a movie.” It wasn’t an easy or inexpensive process, taking a year to complete and costing north of $200,000, but he doesn’t regret it for a second.

Photo of a 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser driving next to an alpine lake.

Tim has been taking his Land Cruiser to family outings at least one time a month for the last year. He and his daughter were driving to Colorado when they arrived at a dark, narrow trailhead late at night. Then, they continued their journey up a steep mountain to reach a lake located just above the treeline at 12,000 ft. He recalls, “The truck tackled the obstacles without any issues and delivered us safely. We were the only ones there under a star-filled sky, and had paddle boards to keep us entertained the next day.”

Photo of the interior of a Toyota Overlanding rig.

Above: This Land Cruiser, despite its many creature-comforts, is not a pavement princess. It can still go just about anywhere and take Tim’s whole family with it.

Toyota Land Cruiser 1993

  • Drive Train 4.2L 1HD-T turbo-diesel inline-6, 5-speed manual transmission, 4×4 with 2-speed transfer case
  • Suspension: Old Man Emu springs & shocks
  • Wheels & Tires: 17-inch Braid Dakar Beadlock A wheels, 37×12.5R17 Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires
  • Body Modifications Roof rack, awning and camper rails from Front Runner; Alu Cab exterior shower with hot and cold water; two 42L Alu boxes and Halite dry bags as storage.
  • Interior Modifications Maltec cabinets with gray and black leather doors, suede headliner and teak wood flooring. Four Recaro Sportster CS Leather Seats, Webasto Heater, 15-gallon fresh filtered Water Tank, water boiler and hot/cold basin, three-burner cooker, espresso machine and upper and lower bed (sleeps 4).
  • Lighting & Electronics: Dual AGM house battery, two SunWare 100W solar panels, Victron Energy 2,000W Power inverter. Alpine Halo 11″ head unit/navigation. Simarine PICO touch screen information panel. Two Dometic refrigerators. LED camper lighting. Charge ports. Warn Zeon 10S Platinum winch. Factor 55 Fairlead. Baja Designs S1 Bumper lights. LP9 Pro Driving Lights. KC Ilites Cyclone Rock lights.
  • Built By: Mal –tec – Mentioned Belowden, Germany – You can find out more about this by clicking here..maltec.org

Photo of the kitchen in a 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

Above: Tim’s family can have a warm breakfast with a triple-burner stove, espresso machine and other appliances without ever leaving their camper.

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Editor’s Note This article was modified from the original print version to be used on the Web.

The post 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser Forbidden Fruit appeared initially on RECOIL.



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