When Justin Montesalvo was looking for a four-wheel drive to be the flagship for his company Patriot Campers, he had a checklist of things he needed it to be able to do.
He’s a family man and active in the outdoors, so a ute was a must. It needed a big turbodiesel to haul the oh-so-cool camper trailers that Patriot builds, and it needed to be comfortable enough so that the wife and kids wouldn’t be out for blood after the three-millionth corrugation along the Gibb River Road.
The obvious choice would be a yank tank – an F-Truck, a Silverado, or a RAM. They tick all the boxes with ease. But the deal-breaker for Justin was that it’s almost impossible to get parts should something go wrong a million kilometres from civilisation. So what do you do when the 4x4 you want doesn’t exist? Well, if you’re Justin, you build it.
Simple, really. With Being a Toyota man through and through, the 200 Series Land Cruiser was the perfect starting point for what was always going to be a wild build. It’d be an exercise in excess, pushing a 4x4 to its absolute limits to end up with not only a reliable vehicle, but something unlike any tourer on the tracks today.
Those with an eagle eye may spot that the 200 is smaller than a regular model, and it’s somehow longer as well. It’s what the Patriot guys call a Super Tourer.
After starting life as a 2014 GXL Land Cruiser, it was dropped off to the guys at Creative Conversions who cut, stretched and shrunk it until the wheelbase was out an extra 650mm and the body was the size of a dual cab ute’s. This arrangement made it possible to fit what was one of the most ridiculous yet practical trays you could buy.
At two-metres long and wide, the Patriot Super Tourer tray received the same build sheet as all of Patriot’s camper trailers. The tray was built in-house from lightweight aluminium before it was treated and powder-coated to match the vehicle. Then it was stuffed with modular compartments and accessories.
The tray now comes with all the gear you’d expect from a high-end tray, such as a sliding rear drawer, integrated tie-down points, a 3mm floor and side toolboxes – the side toolboxes hide a kitchenette. Think of it as a mini camper trailer that the guys take wherever they go, and one that doesn’t eat into any tray space.
Justin’s tray has been optioned up with all the extras, including an integrated 70-litre water tank with electric pump and tap, high-lift jack and mounts, 12-volt outlets on the headboard, a rear winch, and even built-in mounts to hold the four Maxtrax at the ready. It might sound like we’re just starting to rattle off modifications, but the reality is this is one of the most modified Land Cruisers in the country and we’ve barely even scratched the surface.
It will be a miracle if we were able to list half of the things done to this 200, without this article turning into an Excel spreadsheet. In fact, the tray is so far ahead of the game that it has its own completely weatherproof marine-grade stereo that can play music straight from Justin’s phone via Bluetooth connectivity. The double XRay work lights and Narva floodlight up back don’t sound as impressive after hearing that.
Up until now you’d be forgiven for thinking Justin’s 200 is nothing more than a chopped up 200 with a wild tray on the back. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Justin’s the kind of bloke who likes to push things to extremes in everything he does, especially off-roading.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s shoehorned 35.0-inch BFG KM2s inside the wheel arches of the Cruiser. They’re wrapped around 17x8.0-inch Gecko rims with a 25mm wheel spacer on each corner, giving the 200 its aggressive stance.
Of course, the 200’s wheel arches would never have accommodated a tyre of that size in standard form. And the solution to this was a little more involved than bolting in an off-the-shelf suspension kit.
Justin got on the phone to Darren from Icon Vehicle Dynamics Australia to talk about their Stage 4 kit. The deal was done and Justin’s 200 was soon fitted with Icon suspension, front to back. The deal was that if Justin wasn’t completely happy with it, he could have it for free. Needless to say, Darren ended up getting his cheque.
The kit saw Justin’s 200 fitted with Icon’s 2.5-inch CDC adjustable coilover shocks up front, with matching shocks and coils on the rear. The adjustable shocks allow the suspension to be dialled in to suit the exact weight of the vehicle. Plus, the shocks don’t have the harsh ride some adjustable shocks are known for. There’s also a built-in bump-zone, so the Cruiser never bottoms out.
The shocks have been fitted with Australian-spec spring rates to suit our heavier twin-turbodiesel engines and the multiple battery set-ups we often run. The valve rates are 30 per cent stiffer to account for our less-than-average quality roads. Rounding out the kit are tubular control arms to correct camber and caster, and heavy-duty rear lower arms.
With the serious kays Justin eats up on every trip, the 200 needed some serious barwork. Up front there’s a Deluxe winch bar from TJM. Colour-coded to match the 200’s silver paint, the bar feeds into matching scrub bars and side steps, but not before offering mounting points for the TJM 12,000lb winch, Great White LED spotlights and light bars, all powered by the Revolution lithium 100AH battery kit.
There are more Great White light bars mounted up on the Rhino roof rack, as well, but they share prime real estate with a wrap-around Supa Wing awning.
The twin-turbo V8 diesel under the bonnet would have been no slouch if it were left in standard form. But with the vehicle’s weight adding up, Justin decided to slot in a Torqit Power Module for a few extra ponies. There’s a PEDAL TORQ module that reduces the throttle lag for better response and a Beaudesert four-inch stainless-steel straight-through exhaust that gives the 200 the bark it deserves.
A 180-litre Brown Davis fuel tank ensures the bark doesn’t die down too soon. With around 800Nm coming from the V8, the standard auto holds up its part of the bargain, while forward momentum is maintained with ARB air lockers in the front and rear diffs.
With the exterior and drivetrain grabbing attention everywhere Justin goes, you might be surprised to find things are a little tamer when you open the driver’s door – a testament to the build-quality of Toyota. The standard seats are protected by Wet Seat seat covers, with Sandgrabba floor mats doing a similar job for the carpet.
There’s an Outback roof console and twin pillar mounts that provide ample mounting options for the GME TX4500 UHF, Redarc EGT, and gauge. Just reading it is enough to make you run out of breath, but it’s hard to argue with results.
For the penny pinchers and the naysayers, it would be easy to ignore Justin’s 200 as just another credit card barge with more accessories than kays under its belt. These people would be wrong.
Every aspect of this build was painstakingly debated before a decision was made. This Cruiser represents everything Patriot Campers takes pride in for their campers. It was built to do the hard yards, to take on creek crossings and desert dunes just as easily as it does tropical beaches and corrugated roads. This LC200 shows that, while money can’t buy happiness, the right amount of money spent in the right places can help you on your way.