Wally III – A.K.A. The Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ78 Camper
It gets quite a bit of attention in the States because unfortunately, 70 series Land Cruisers were never imported here. The base truck is a 2000, left hand drive Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ78 two door troop carrier, or Troopie as many people refer to them, with a few options from Toyota- air conditioning, an air intake snorkel, and electronic differential locks front and rear. Besides this, from the factory it’s a stripped down bush taxi with roll up windows, no carpet and minimal gauges.
The engine is a stock 1HZ 4.2 liter 12 valve naturally aspirated diesel with 129 horse power and just over 400,000 kilometers. That may seem like a lot of k’s, but these engines are amazingly well built, reliable as they come and easy to work on. It’s mated to a 5 speed manual transmission from an 80 series Land Cruiser. The axles have electronic differential locks, with the front being a heavy duty closed knuckle Birfield joint style and the rear a heavy duty full floating design. For tires, it’s shod with the now discontinued 255-85-16 BF Goodrich Mud Terrains.
Now on to the good stuff; the most obvious from the outside is the roof, which is a pop-up roof, made by Desert-Tec.
This roof is amazingly well built, I can walk around on the top and there is no flex whatsoever. The slant opening roof, while limiting in space, is preferred by us over the straight pop-up style for its strength and reduced noise in high winds.
On top of the roof is a 100 watt solar panel that charges a 105 amp hour auxiliary battery behind the passenger seat. This battery is hooked to an inverter for charging our various electronics. There’s also an isolator that also allows the battery to be charged by the alternator while the truck is running and the solar panel also charges the main truck batteries when the auxiliary battery is fully charged.
Inside, the stock rear bench seats have been replaced with custom storage cabinets with three compartments on the driver’s side and six on the passengers.
There is also a sink with a water purifying filter, a propane stove built into the passenger’s side cabinet and a single mattress, for sitting or solo sleeping, on top of the driver’s side cabinet. We use removable water containers, stored inside one of the compartments, for ease of filling and to prevent the water from freezing in cold temperatures.
Behind the driver’s seat, which has been replaced with a Recaro (the passenger suffers with the stock Toyota seat), is an Engel refrigerator/freezer. For heating with the engine off, there is a Webasto heater that runs on diesel.
We try to balance the tools and spare parts we carry with the probability of need and ease of acquiring. In addition to the duct tape, zip ties extra fluids and miscellaneous nuts and bolts, we carry extra filters, belts, bulbs, seals and even a replacement Birfield joint. Obviously, there’s also a compressor, hardwired to the auxiliary battery behind the passenger seat, as well as a wide range of tools tailored to this truck to fix most anything. For the how to fix anything information, I have the factory engine repair manual, as well an online electronic parts catalog on my laptop.
Underneath, the 70 Series Land Cruisers don’t really need a lot of work to make them ready for just about anything, but with the weight of this truck (almost 7,500 pounds fully loaded) a suspension upgrade was in order. Old Man Emu 2.5 inch heavy duty springs were added front and rear to boost the GVW to over 8,000 pounds. Old Man Emu shocks and polyurethane bushings round things out and really improve the ride quality.
A 120 liter auxiliary fuel tank compliments the stock 80 liter tank and rides underneath where the spare tire once sat. With 200 liters of diesel available, our range is stretched to about 1,200 kilometers between fill-ups.
For recovery gear, most people notice and remark on the sand plates we carry, which is a piece of military surplus PAP (Perforated Aluminum Planking) cut in half with the locking tabs ground off.
Mounted on hinged brackets over the side windows to protect the glass, not to keep out bears or protect us from bullets, as a few tourists up in Alaska thought, they also flip down to serve double duty as tables. The front bumper is winch free, but has a Hi-Lift Jack mounted to it for lifting duty and with the necessary recovery straps, chain and connecting links we carry, pulling duty as well. Of course there’s also a saw and shovel for campfires and nature calls.
This truck isn’t a weekend adventure vehicle; it’s been a full time home for almost two years and counting. There are many great vehicles that can be made into travel vehicles, but in my opinion, few vehicles match the legendary reliability, global popularity and go anywhere off-road performance of Toyota Land Cruisers.
More photos of the Land Cruiser and the places it’s been can be seen on my Flickr site and on Claudia’s website Wildjourney.de. For those who own one of these amazing trucks, I have the Toyota factory 1hd, 1hz, 1pz-t engine repair manual available for download here.