SEX sells. The reality is: we like sexy-looking things.
When a new 4x4 is released we typically don’t take note of a 0.1mm thickness increase in the sheetmetal, a revised suspension bush design, or injectors with an extra five per cent of life. But that sexy new front end? Oh boy, do we notice that.
With that in mind it shouldn’t be surprising that Long, the owner of the immaculate-looking LandCruiser 200 you’re eyeing off right now, took a slightly different approach to building his war wagon… a slightly sexier approach. “I didn’t want another old-man-looking car,” he told us with a laugh.
And when he had to balance supercar good looks with family practicality, one of the sexiest 200s in the country was always going to be the logical conclusion. “I needed a bus,” he went on to add. “I’ve come from a line of wild seven-seat Patrols including big diesel builds and even a VL Turbo-powered 3.0-litre petrol, so needed all the room for the kids when I was upgrading.”
Boring wasn’t going to cut it on the outside or under the bonnet, so it didn’t take long for Long to take to the engine bay with dreams of glory. The first step on the path to 1000Nm was letting the big 4.5-litre V8 twin-turbo breathe easier. A Radius Fab air-box and intake pipe replaced the often restrictive factory set-up, with the whole lot plumbed to the business end of a Fabulous Fabrication snorkel.
The other end of town is taken care of by a custom exhaust system from the guys at Spot On Performance & Fabrication. They pieced together a full twin-exhaust system all the way from the factory turbos right back to the rear bumper, where twin tips give that distinct LC200 burble.
Long took the Cruiser to the guys at G&L Performance who remapped the factory ECU, getting the bent-eight to power down with 970Nm at the rear wheels on a dyno run.
The factory injectors struggle to cope with the fuel requirements now, so Long is on the hunt for a set of uprated injectors that’ll work with the 2017 build, before fitting a front-mount intercooler and gearbox shift-kit for a more aggressive map. Hey, who said power was easy?
Kicking off the pointy end of Long’s LC200 is the oh-so-cool Rhino bar. It adds a heap of protection to the radiator for animal strikes, but also serves as a mounting point for the 12,000lb winch and Baja Designs light bar, all while keeping with the yank-tank styling of the updated model.
Moving down the flanks and Long’s gone against the grain once again. Where most run a set of high sliders for ground clearance or a set of low-hanging side-steps for ease of entrance, Long opted to run both.
The electrically operating steps tuck up nice and high when the doors are shut, then pop down giving easy access when you’re not in the thick of southeast Queensland’s beaches and tropical rainforests. “We sourced them from Tyrant 4x4,” he told us.
“These were the first set that had gone onto a 200 though, so it took a bit of work to get them on there.” That high-speed, low-drag styling has kicked onto the roof as well, with the gunmetal grey Cruiser sporting a low-profile backbone system and platform roof-rack from Rhino-Rack.
The system is also home to a 50-inch- Baja Designs light bar. While the spanners were out, Long took to the front and rear lights as well as the side-markers and removed all traces of orange, giving the big Toyota a more modern appearance – up close and personal it’s clear the LC200 looks a whole lot better than any factory version.
Long’s business, Vogue Industries, builds high-end modified supercars as well as a heap of paint protection like the Pomponazzi glass coatings. Before the Cruiser had gone through a tank of diesel it was polished for a day and a half to get a gloss deeper than anything the factory could ever hope for, then it was coated from head to toe in the glass coating to lock it in.
“The coating itself actually goes on everything,” Long said.
“Even the undercarriage. I do a lot of beach driving so am always worried about the sandblasting effect of driving in sand. The stock paint underneath is thin, so we applied the coating underneath, too, to make sure no rust found its way in. It helps keep the 4x4 clean, too, so unless you get up close and see the bumps and dents, it looks like it’s never been off-road.”
Finishing off the exterior package is a set of some of the most aggressive tyres you can legally run on the road. When the wife stays at home and Long is happy to listen to the roar of mud tyres, the road wheels and tyres come off and in their place slot a set of 35-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers.
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They’re wrapped around a set of massive 20-inch Method MR310 Con 6s which fill the Cruiser’s wheelwells. The form and function mentality has been the theme of the day on the inside as well. The most visually obvious change has been a complete re-trim job.
“I wasn’t really happy with the factory leather to be honest,” Long told us. “It was half leather, half fake-leather; it was disappointing.” While the needle and thread was out Long also had the seats re-bolstered so they grip more like a sports car than a family Cruiser.
From here the centre console, door trips, and all three rows of seats were wrapped in Nappa leather. With the Cruiser spending most of its life on the beach, a heap of touring modifications also found their way inside. There’s a replacement head unit in the dash, and a roof-mounted DVD player in the rear to keep the kids happy.
A GME UHF got the nod, while the rear end runs different set-ups depending on how many kids are loaded up that day. “I’ve got a lot of kids so need the seats,” Long told us with a laugh. “If I’m out I can run just the five seats and the big fridge in the rear.
If the kids have friends over, the Mrs can swap out to a smaller fridge and still use the third row of seats.” There’s no shortage of tough LC200s on the tracks, but it’s pretty clear 90 per cent of them are function over form. Long’s killer Cruiser is proof you can have your cake and eat it too.
A super-capable beach-ready 4x4, drop-dead-gorgeous supercar looks, and a family chariot all in the one package. If his personal Cruiser is anything to go by, you better strap yourself in to see what rolls out the door in the next few months.
A CLOSER LOOK
35-inch Nitto Mud Grappler rubber wrap around massive 20-inch Method MR310 Con 6 wheels.
Baja Designs’ light bar is one of the few bright bits up front. The Rhino bar blends with the matte black of the grille and gunmetal grey body.
Air-bag suspension is a bolt-in system from AirREX, adjusting the ride height above and below factory specs for any situation.
Electrically operated side steps from Tyrant 4x4 pop out to ease entrance and exit. They tuck in under the body when the doors are shut.
A full twin-exhaust system from Spot On Performance & Fabrication runs all the way from the turbos to the bent-down tips.