TAKE A look at these photos and you could be forgiven for thinking that Project SuperCruiser is, well, pretty bloody ‘big’? Yep, this six-wheel drive beast is like no other 200 Series Land Cruiser on the planet, and now that it’s starting to take shape there’s absolutely no doubt it’s going to cause a sensation when it hits the 4x4 tracks around Australia, as well as local and international show circuits.
While the bodywork has taken longer than expected, by the time you read this the SuperCruiser will have been spray painted, had its interior fit-out, had an extra axle added, and its Trig Point canopy mounted to the chassis. After these steps, though, there’s still a fair way to go before it will be complete.
Picture: The rear bodywork extension is a seamless flow from the original cab
Last month we outlined why the SuperCruiser was taking longer to finish than anticipated, with lots of detailed bodywork required to ensure the vehicle ended up with a factory look. This involved reshaping the rear corners with neat, wide-radius curves, custom fabricating the rear wall and fitting a custom rear window, as well as adding toolboxes ahead of the centre axle.
There were other unforeseen issues inside, including relocation of the rear air-con unit and rerouting of wiring looms and plumbing. As you can see from these latest photos, even with the body still in primer it’s obvious the extra effort has paid dividends.
“In the last month they’ve done a lot more panel beating to ensure all the panels will line up with the Trig Point canopy,” explains the vehicle’s owner and proprietor of MSA 4x4, Shane Miles. “They’ve undercoated it and sent it around to AEV (Australian Expedition Vehicles), where they test fitted and mounted the Trig Point canopy. With that in place they had to line it up with the sides of the vehicle and ensure that the roofline and all the heights were perfect. They also had to line up the guards, so they aligned properly with the Trig Point.”
Picture: Test fitting the centre axle that will turn the Cruiser into a true 6x6
Mick McMillan from AEV was impressed with how the test fitting of the Trig Point canopy went – after all, this is a one-off vehicle, and the canopy was manufactured off-site. “As far as the fitting of the rear canopy goes, that was a day’s activity where Trig Point came to Townsville,” explains Mick.
“We levelled it off and made sure the length and fit was right, and it was probably one of the more seamless parts of what we’ve had to do on this vehicle, which is a testament of the ability of CAD to do what you want it to do. Our design process is quite robust, which means we were able to supply accurate information so the canopy could be manufactured off-site, without the vehicle, and the first fit proved it was a success.”
Picture: The Trig Point canopy was built off-site using CAD and was sent to AEV colour-coded
With the canopy on, everyone got an idea of what the project would look like. “When you see the photos you think, ‘wow, it’s a bloody road train’, but when you see it in person it’s pretty cool, and it’s really good to see all the body with the rear window in and the toolboxes, and where it’s cut and all the radiuses and stuff, it looks really good, it looks factory … as much as a six-wheel drive 200 Series can look factory, that is,” laughs Shane.
“It looks extremely long, but in fact it’s only seven metres long,” adds Shane. “It’s not that much longer than a HiLux with a body on it – it’s only about a metre longer.”
Custom rigs: Six of the best 6x6s money can buy
Picture: Lifting the Trig Point canopy into place
The six-wheel drive axle was also test-fitted to ensure everything fitted with the canopy in place, but this was removed once more before the SuperCruiser was sent back to the paint booth. “We’ve done the six-wheel drive axle, it’s already been test fitted, but we removed it so we didn’t cover it in overspray,” explains Mick McMillan. “So that will go back in and then we just have to do the final fit-out.”
In addition to relocating the rear air-conditioning unit and rerouting all of the associated plumbing, there was a lot of work for the auto electrician. “All the air-con has been fired up and is all working in the back, and all the electronics inside have been done,” says Shane.
“There was a lot of wiring that had to be removed – it was like spaghetti in there – so the auto sparky rewired everything. And an electronic rust prevention system has been installed; we put in a 10-pad ERPS, so that’s all been wired inside and outside, around the parts where there have been modifications and cuts, so that will keep any potential rust issues at bay into the future.”
Picture: Read air-conditioning unit
With the job taking longer than expected, Mick McMillan is keen to make up time in the next stage of the build. “The process now, we need to compress the timeline, because it’s taken longer than expected,” he says. “Once it’s back from the paint shop, the upholsterer will come through and do what he needs to do, and then we’ll fit up the door cards and the seats, and at the same time we’ll fit up the rear section with its brake lines, diffs, fuel tank and all the other components, and then once all that’s complete the rear module will just pop on.”
“We’ll get it to the point where it’s registerable, so it will drive out of here fully finished, and it will have a Federal sticker on it and a Queensland sticker,” says Mick. “This is because the vehicle is not in accordance with our Second Stage of Manufacture approval; it’s federally approved as a six-wheel drive, but the other components that are on the vehicle are not as per our Second Stage of approval, so we still need to put some Queensland modification codes on it.
“At this stage the Cruiser will be in the heavy vehicle category, which means it will be under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulations VSB6 Version 3. While it will have an SSM (Second Stage Manufacturer’s approval) for the six-wheel drive system, there are still additional codes that need to be put on it, because it’s a one-off vehicle. We need to ensure that we comply with all the requirements to make sure that this vehicle is legal in every state of Australia.”
How long will this take? Not long at all, says Mick: “Once we get it back after painting, we’ve got five to seven days of work on it, maximum, and I’m going to put the manpower on it to get it knocked over as quick as we can.”
With bar work, suspension, brakes and much more still to go, hopefully the boys aren’t being too optimistic, but as you can see from the pics much of the hard work on Project SuperCruiser has now been sorted.