YOU would think the guy who invented a recovery device that helps take you anywhere might have a bit of an idea when it comes to building a touring rig that promises the same. And, in the case of Brad McCarthy, the brains trust behind MAXTRAX, you’d be absolutely spot-on, as his big six-wheel LC200 proves.
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To fit an extra pair of hoops under the Cruiser, Brad enlisted Australian Expedition Vehicles’ (AEV) Mick McMillan. Getting the extra-wheel configuration to work ‘as standard’ at the rear of this stretched Cruiser is the result of AEV fitting what is basically a double JMACX coil setup with a few trick components to ensure it works a treat.
“The system is basically a double JMACX with a drive-through centre diff,” Brad explained.
“So you’ve got good articulation, and the six-wheel drive system just happens automatically. So, normally, if you’ve got it in four-wheel drive, it’s driving just the four wheels. As soon as there’s 20mm of slip in that middle axle it engages that centre diff and locks in the rear axle, and then you’ve got six-wheel drive. You don’t have to press any buttons or engage anything, it just automatically occurs as you need it.”
Brad reckons it transforms the Cruiser’s tractive capabilities, making it – nearly – all too easy. “As soon as you lose traction you’ll feel the system kick in, it’s almost like you’ve hit the diff lock button,” he affirmed.
“You get that instant traction at the back and, once you don’t need it, it backs off. It’s such a difference; it’s unstoppable. You point it at anything and it walks over it like the terrain is concrete.”
The Cruiser has been further modified with an AEV-sourced GVM upgrade (it is now certified for 4500kg) and had a custom canopy fitted from Outback Customs, a setup which comprises two removable canopies (the front one doubles as Brad’s sleeper cab).
There are minimal permanent fixtures in the canopies; only the fridge/freezer (with MSA drop-down slide) and a few other items are what he considers must-stay items. This tray measures three-and-a-bit metres long, which allows Brad to load up any of his toys when the canopies are removed.
As well as the sleeper cab, the canopy is set-up with a Backtrax Ascent Pro rooftop tent atop a Rhino-Rack roof rack. This hard-roofed unit is operated via remote control (once you open a couple of exterior latches).
One thing that’s quite noticeable is that, besides the rooftop tent, there is a distinct lack of additional gear up on the roof of the Cruiser. Another part of Brad’s ethos when creating this mega tourer was to keep it self-contained, self-sufficient and as frugal on fuel as a seven-metre-long 6WD Land Cruiser can be.
This meant fitment of the two spare wheels to the rear of the custom tray, to minimise wind-resistance, as well as a 250-litre Long Ranger fuel tank on top of the stock 138-litre jobbie.
A Redarc solar power setup, with BC/DC and an inverter sit in behind the passenger seats, ensuring there’s plenty of juice flowing to the dual-battery setup – the lithium-ion batteries sit inside custom boxes set into the wheel arches either side of the cab. All of this gear means Brad and his fellow travellers can disappear into the desert for weeks on end.
Finishing off the vehicle is some exemplary ARB bar-work, Goodyear Wrangler (with Kevlar) MT/R LT285/70R17 rubber wrapped around ROH alloy wheels, and some comfy Recaro seats in the cabin. These, Brad reckons, top off the Cruiser’s comfort levels.
“It’s a pretty comfortable ride as it is, but the Recaros make it even better. Like I said, we took it to Cape Melville in October and it was only a short, two-week trip, so we did around five- to six-thousand kays and you can sit behind the wheel all day and still be comfortable.”
Getting this Cruiser on the tracks hasn’t been a short journey for Brad. He estimates that, between the AEV work, the custom tray and canopy build, and chopping off the back, it took around five months.
Still, that’s not too bad for the end result: a purpose-built, self-sufficient, super tough outback touring vehicle that will definitely get you to places few have been. And then get you back again so you can brag about your adventure with your mates over some cold bevvies. That has to be a good thing, don’t you think?
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