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Custom 4X4: 200 Series LandCruiser

When your job requires interstate travel, why not use the opportunity to go touring?

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If you have ever purchased a car from a dealership, then chances are you’ve had a salesman try to sell you some form of paint protection for your new pride and joy. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… the majority of them don’t work. Well, not in the way their fancy sales pitch says they will. And for Stewart Paternoster, this was incredibly frustrating.

 

Stewart is a businessman who specialises in car detailing and, being an avid four-wheel driver since birth, the certainty of paint damage while off-road was an unavoidable reality. This was until he discovered Pomponazzi Quartz Glass Paint Protection.

 

Stewart was instantly blown away by the results and knew straight away he needed this for his 200 Series. It was whilst touring the countryside and meeting other four-wheel drivers that he was constantly being asked why the ’Cruiser looked so good. This sparked an idea for Stewart to detail cars while on the road, and applying the Pomponazzi coating.

And just like that, his touring lifestyle became his career.

 

The Owner

With 30 years of 4WDing under his belt you’re safe to assume Stewart has owned a few 4X4s. Every LandCruiser model out there as well as a few Patrols and a couple of Jeeps are on the list, along with many others in fact. His last was a lifted and locked 100 Series ’Cruiser and it was also the most reliable – only ever having an alternator and starter motor replaced in 330,000km.

With a resume like that, I asked Stewart how the 200 Series ranks against the rest.

“The 200 definitely is my favourite one and the best decision I’ve made,” he says. “It really is the perfect platform to build from because it is just so comfortable and capable, and with that twin-turbo V8 it really is unlike anything else.”

 

The modifications

As soon as Stewart picked up the ’Cruiser he had plans to modify it with remote area travel in mind. And with a life on the road being central to his future plans, reliability was key when it came to modifications. Front-end protection is paramount when travelling remote, as suicidal Skippies are not biased about which rig will bring their demise… so Stewart opted for an ARB Deluxe bullbar up-front. The front bar also houses the Runva 11XP winch, twin 617W LED spotlights and the GME UHF aerial.

 

Toyotas apparently have a habit of only getting stuck when there are Nissans around (did I mention I drive a Patrol?) – so for those days Stewart added some ARB recovery points under the front.

 

Under the belly of the beast is some stainless steel underbody protection and alongside that is a pair of SLEE Rock Sliders for sill defence; with a vehicle as immaculate as this it’s no wonder Stewart wants to keep his panels straight. The Kaymar rear bar is also a trick bit of gear – instead of your typical dual wheel-carrier arms being mounted to the bar itself, Kaymar has redesigned its bar so that the wheel carriers are actually mounted directly to the chassis – making them a lot more stable and leaving the rear bar to serve purely as departure protection.

 

Interior functionality has been improved by way of keeping the layout efficient and simple with a twin drawer system, 80L Waeco fridge-freezer and Stewart’s swag permanently living in the back for those spontaneous camping trips. Custom trim leather seats keep driver and navigator riding like royalty whilst all the essential GPS and navigation equipment necessary for Outback travel sits within easy reach of both. The Sahara steering wheel upgrade gives Stewart hands-free access to the stereo and Bluetooth phone controls. And in the rear inner guard is ARB’s twin air compressor for airing-up duties. A pair of auxiliary batteries takes care of the fridge and accessories; and they’re charged by a Redarc Manager 30 battery management system.

 

V8 ’Cruisers are no slouch from the factory; however they’re incredibly restricted – which (mixed with a rather conservative tune) means they benefit highly from a little bit of a tickle in the right places. Don’t we all. In went a 3.75-inch stainless exhaust system from Beaudesert Exhausts and a Safari snorkel, along with a custom ECU remap by Power Torque Engines – resulting in 175kW at the rear wheels.

 

To put all the power to the ground the 200 copped a StockLock torque converter lock-up kit, which fully engages the torque converter at around 80km/h to positively lock the engine to the transmission. This saw a 17-degree drop in gearbox oil temps and much better drivability at highway speeds.

 

“The torque converter lock-up with the extra torque from the exhaust and ECU remap makes towing absolutely effortless,” Stewart tells us. “I can’t even feel my two-tonne camper behind me.” A Provent 200 catch can keeps blow-by gases clean and a secondary fuel filter has also been installed to aid with filtration when filling up from those dirty diesel tanks at some remote roadhouses.

 

Stewart’s 200 Series is set up purely for touring, and every modification done to the vehicle is specifically suited to the harsh conditions of the Outback. Old Man Emu BP51 remote-reservoir shock absorbers keep the ’Cruiser riding over corrugations like a magic carpet. Superior Engineering upper control arms were used for added strength and to correct the camber caused by increasing the lift of the IFS vehicle; and traction is maintained with 295/70/R17 Nitto Trail Grappler rubber mounted to CSA Raptor alloy rims. The factory tyre pressure monitor has been replaced with a 10-channel system to monitor pressures in the four tyres on the two-hundy and the two trailer tyres as well.

 

Up top is an ARB alloy roof rack, which houses the 280W solar panel for those extended camps. Replacing the spare tyre underneath is ARB’s new 180L poly sub-tank – giving Stewart a combined total of 280L of diesel capacity.

 

The Camper

Because Stewart spends so much time travelling interstate, he decided to buy a camper that could sleep two blokes in separate beds for when he has one of his staff working with him.

 

“The Ezytrail Lincoln LX has given the best bang for buck I’ve seen from any camper,” he explains. “Everything about it is big. Big space, big storage, big features and a big trailer!” However Stewart tells me it’s still very nimble.

 

“The ’Cruiser makes light work of the trailer. With its independent suspension and long drawbar there’s nearly no feedback to the 4X4 when the trailer hits a dip.”

 

With heaps of water, ample 12V accessories, storage galore and style to boot the Lincoln LX is certainly up to the task of following Stewart wherever he points the 200. The LandCruiser and camper make such a comfortable and capable setup, we can’t really blame the bloke for travelling all over the country in it.

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