“THIS is the perfect touring vehicle.” How’s that for confidence!
That was the bold statement made by Patriot Campers’ Justin Montesalvo when describing this highly modified, matte-black-wrapped 2016 Land Cruiser Sahara dual-cab tourer.
Yep, this thing is impressive, and it should be, considering it is a no-holds-barred example of Patriot Campers’ Super Tourer (ST) modified off-roaders – the end-results of Justin’s ideas of what a modified tourer should look like and, most importantly, how it should perform on- and off-road.
Patriot Campers has produced more than 40 Super Tourer vehicles to date, but this LC200 Sahara is a real stand-out – Justin reckons the build for this beast took an incredible 400 man-hours.
Running your eyes over this impressive tourer, it’s easy to see where those hours were spent, as Justin and his team implemented his original design idea of producing a modified dual-cab LC200 tourer that could handle any off-road adventure around Australia but still retain a ‘standard’ appearance.
“The tray and all mods were form-fitted to retain a factory-style look,” Justin said. “You’d think it was a Toyota-build vehicle.”
Justin also explained his reasoning behind why the LC200 makes such an awesome base for Super Tourer modification. “I reckon all the other dual-cab utes are underpowered in the Aussie market – the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and others.
You really need a big engine and I love Toyota’s twin-turbo V8,” he told us. “I also wanted to build a touring rig that had all the practicalities of a dual-cab ute, along with the renowned comforts of a 200 Series Cruiser.” We reckon he’s succeeded.
The Cruiser’s in-your-face, modified rear tray has had a sensible increase in length to ensure it performs its tourer duties perfectly while still being driveable in urban areas. The rear section of the Cruiser was cut off and the chassis then extended by 650mm, allowing for the tray to be installed out back.
Justin said the customer wanted the ease of use of a ute, as well as maximised storage space and easy access to gear.
Patriot installed one of its mini canopies and a dog-box on the tray to house the Redarc TowPro Elite electric trailer brake controller, along with lithium batteries, 12-volt power outlets and LED lights (this area also includes a slide-out drawer below). The opposite side of the mini canopy contains a well-proven 65L Waeco fridge/freezer, easily accessed via a drop-down fridge slide.
The Cruiser has three batteries – two 100Ah units and a 120Ah lithium jobbie – to ensure there’s plenty of juice for any power requirements, and helping keep power up is a pair of Goal Zero Boulder 90 solar panels.
The rest of the tray includes in-built tool boxes (one of these houses an ARB twin air compressor) and a massive rear drawer (lockable, of course), along with a rear-mount 12,000lb TJM Torq winch that mirrors the same-model Torq on the front bar. At the back of the tray is a dual-mount spare wheel carrier that’s at an easy height for access.
The fit and finish of the tray is incredible; Justin’s aim of making it look “straight from the factory” has worked perfectly, with the canopies and tool boxes all flush-finished (even the two spare wheels sit so they are flush with the roof-line of the canopy) and well-integrated into the tray’s overall design.
Having a front/rear winch combo is a brilliant idea that’s based on common sense. In a lot of recovery situations, you may not be able to access a front-mount winch, rendering it useless.
With the extra insurance afforded by the fitment of a rear-mount unit into the rear bar, you’re covered for 99 per cent of recovery situations (that one per cent would be for a complicated side recovery). Also under the rear tray is a 70-litre water tank powered by an electric pump, and a Brown Davis long-range fuel tank.
Up front, the big bruiser is protected by a TJM Outback bar, with integrated XRay LED light bars fitted to maintain the look of a factory-fit job.
Mounted to the bar is a pair of XRay 220 HID lights with a spot-beam output and, to ensure there’ll be no visibility issues at night, Patriot Campers also fit a 1200mm Quad-optic LED light bar (with a spread beam) beneath the Rhino Rack roof-rack, which is loaded with an awning, Hi-Lift jack and a shovel.
The interior has been kept largely stock, featuring the plush leather seats from the standard Sahara. All the added accessories – GME UHF radio, Hema HX-1 GPS unit, Redarc boost and voltage gauges, floor mats and a Fusion stereo – were fitted with touring firmly in mind.
The LC200’s twin-turbo-diesel V8 is no slouch by any means, but Justin still wanted a little more grunt. So he set to work implementing some major mods to the big oiler that would give it more punch without compromising reliability. With this particular vehicle, the engine was removed and the turbochargers were upgraded to two GCG turbos.
At the same time, the Patriot Campers team added a larger capacity intercooler, a stainless-steel exhaust, a Safari snorkel and a more efficient fuel system set-up, all run by a Unichip engine management system. This resulted in a power hike from 227kW to 250kW.
Of all the mods on this uber-Cruiser, one of the most impressive would have to be the suspension set-up.
The Cruiser rolls on 17x8in ROH Octagon alloy wheels shod with LT315/70R17 Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3 tyres, which are supported by a full Icon Vehicle Dynamics Stage 6 suspension kit that, according to Justin, “is unique – you won’t see it on many other 4x4s that aren’t in a competition environment”.
This kit is oriented to the suspension requirements of comp vehicles – the shocks are fully adjustable remote-reservoir units.
They combine with billet upper control arms, rear trailing arms and coil springs that are rated to the weight of the vehicle (this Cruiser has an increased GVM from 3350kg to 3800kg, and ride height is up four inches), to produce a ride Justin rates as like “nothing else I have ever driven before”. And it’s this statement that sums up Patriot Campers’ LC200 Super Tourer.
Justin and his team have accomplished their goal of the ultimate bush-tourer that retains its factory appearance and ease of use, while offering so much more in terms of off-road touring capability.