EAGLE-EYED readers may have noticed my Toyota Landcruiser 60 has been absent from the mag over the last few months. There’s a good reason for that: I cut it in half.
But it’s not my fault. Over the last few months it’s had a few re-occurring mechanical gremlins anyone stupid enough to try and daily drive an old 4WD would be more than familiar with. It’d run perfectly for weeks on end then leave me stranded in the rain while I flailed spanners and pliers trying to work out why it wasn’t getting fuel.
It got to the point I figured I’d roll the dice and see if the banks were foolish enough to let me drive one of their new cars and pretend I owned it. I’ve got the financial sensibility of a drug addict in Colombia, so I rightfully expected a polite letter telling me to stop bothering them. A mate even asked what I’d do with the 60 if I got approved, and I jokingly told him I might as well cut it in half and go racing. It turns out the banks are as bad with money as I am, because they handed over the keys – and, sure enough, my mate came knocking, grinder in hand.
I’ve always accepted there’s at least a few screw loose inside my head, and the idea of racing for a week in the desert at something like The Outback Challenge, carrying all my spare parts and camping kit, sounded like the exact kind of adventure I’d been craving. I’ve also been eyeing off a few of the new go-fast rock crawling races like the Aust4 series. So, I’d need a versatile rig.
Now, the wagon body would probably resemble a dropped meat pie about half a lap in to the race, and it offered poor storage options for the gear I’d need to carry. So the decision was made to turn the 60 into a space cab and stretch the rear axle back a foot or so with a heap of tube work holding the fuel cell, spare tyre, space cases and shocks.
The lethargic 3F engine will soon be up on Gumtree, and there’s an LS1 sitting in my workshop about to go under the bonnet. To make sure the driveline will be up to the task, I’ve ticked the box for a huge 4L80E gearbox normally found in Chevy Suburbans. This’ll be backed up by a Chevy NP205 transfer case, a huge cast iron beast from a mid-80s Blazer.
Most of the work so far has been tracking down info, planning suspension geometry, and studying rule books for loopholes I probably shouldn’t publicly admit to. With the interior stripped and the back wall out, the next step is to start building the roll-cage, which will allow me to start mounting some of the expensive parts sitting under my desk.
Hopefully the neighbours will stop giving me dirty looks and the poor old Cruiser can start looking less like a pile of junk in my yard and more like a race-ready 4x4.
All that’s left is everything.