A 4×4 on the floor, how could you want more?
When you think of a Toyota Land Cruiser, you usually imagine it conquering a massive dune, or a crazy dirt trail full of rocks and loose ground being traversed. Big wheels, lifted suspension, roof racks, you get the idea.
When you hear word that someone has created a Land Cruiser that’s slammed to the ground and hot-rodded, your first reaction is shock and awe – and then curiosity.
Andre Allers of Allers Rods and Customs actually completed this build as a personal project in 2014. I had seen some photos of it before, but seeing it in person is really something else. It is completely awesome and turns heads like nothing else.
The truck took 1400 painstaking hours to complete, by Andre and his crew, and it’s actually his daily driver and shop truck. Since the transformation, it has traveled just under 100,000kms (62,000 miles), which is really impressive for something so low and with so much custom work.
The truck was originally a 1975 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser pick-up body, which was in dire shape when the project started out. It was covered in rust and pretty much rotten. The body was first rust repaired, and then a 200mm (8-inch) roof chop was carried out, which is quite a substantial amount. They then built a station wagon rear section onto the truck, while the floor, roof, doors and tailgate were all custom fabricated parts.
The main design inspiration behind the build was 1930s American four-door, open wheel, solid front axle hot rod style, with a South African twist. Although it’s a Japanese truck, nothing is more South African than a Land Cruiser.
The chosen colour is a period correct and timeless hue, which suits the truck to a tee, while the door vinyl definitely lends to the bad-ass-ness of the build.
The glass and window rubbers for the entire truck had to be specially made, and as anyone building a custom car would know, this is quite a difficult part of any build to sort out. But Allers Rods and Customs got it done so well that you’d swear they are factory items from the Toyota parts bin.
Other touches on the exterior cosmetic side of things include custom rear lights, an externally mounted Jerry can, rear spare wheel mount, and even custom window wipers.
The chassis was constructed completely from scratch using 100mm x 50mm x 3mm rectangular tubing. The guys settled on a custom solid front axle with a set of adjustable coilovers, as well as another set of standard Land Rover Discovery shocks and coils to accommodate the heavy wheels and tyres, and lightweight body.
The rear axle was scavenged from a Land Rover Discovery, widened by using both the standard, longer side shafts and housing.
18-inch wheels finished in black were chosen for the build and then wrapped with 305/60/R18 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tyres, selected for their durability and of course their look.
To power this hot rod, Andre wanted to keep it in the family, so he opted for the tried and trusted Lexus 1UZ VVTi 4.0L engine. A custom intake was fitted, along with Samco hoses and an oversized radiator to keep temps in check. It purrs along happily with standard Toyota engine management and chucks out around 300hp and 405Nm of torque through a standard 4-speed automatic gearbox, that turns a custom made propshaft to get it moving.
This little monster is no slouch – Andre has run a 15.1-second quarter mile at 159km/h (98mph) on the same off-road tyres that are always on the truck. He’s even done a top end run, achieving 206km/h (128mph) on GPS, but he says that at that speed the tyres – which are only rated to 160 km/h (100mph) – were expanding like drag slicks. So, it’s not the safest thing to do.
The truck has been pretty much bulletproof since it was finished and it’s used extensively to tow the caravan to hot rod events and custom car tours. It’s been abused on numerous drag racing events at Tarlton Raceway, towing the caravan to the event, racing the whole weekend, and then returning back home.
It’s also competed on the salt pans at Goerapan – again with the caravan in tow – which is 1,000km (620 miles) trip one way from Pretoria.
Andre has toured the country extensively with fellow rodders and their teardrop caravans, covering the East Coast, South Coast and West Coast numerous times, including all the gravel roads.
The Toyota has attended all the major hot rod events around the country, including the rockabilly festivals in Cape Town, and has never been on a trailer once.
The inside is quite a rad place to be and carries over the whole beige theme from the exterior. Two different colour tones were used in the cabin, with even the Momo steering wheel undergoing a repaint. There are custom door handles, which look similar to something you’d find in your grandma’s kitchen, and air-conditioning was also installed and integrated into the vent system using original knobs.
The screwdriver key has quite an interesting story around it. Andre always gets stopped by the police when driving the truck, not because of any violations, but simply because they are so interested in it. So, he had the screwdriver key made up and always tells them it’s a stolen car, which usually results in a laugh.
A digital instrument cluster was installed and sits in front of the steering wheel, displaying all the vitals you’ll ever need. A half-cage was also custom built for the Land Cruiser, and attached to this is a 2-way radio system with 3-way overhead speakers, which really come in handy on all those long road trips, as all Andre’s friends run them in their vehicles, too.
There’s a B&M shifter in the center console, and lastly a set of custom seats.Campmaster
I’m sure you’ve been wondering about the cool little teardrop caravan attached to the back of the Cruiser, and damn it’s awesome. Andre builds and sells these funky little things as well, and this one’s called Tears of Joy.
Andre says it’s basically like a caravan from the past, for the future. The design is an all-road, lightweight, aerodynamic, compact, touring caravan with the exterior able to match its specific tow vehicle. You can get it varnished, colour-matched, or with aluminium cladding, like a mini Airstream. They can be built more old school for hot rods and muscle cars, or more modern for light SUVs, 4x4s or even small hatchbacks.
The inside of the caravan has been fully isolated with his and her doors and it fits a queen-size bed, cupboards for clothing, as well as a cell phone and magazine shelf. LED interior lights are ideally placed for reading.
Tears of Joy even has its own little kitchen hidden underneath the rear of the caravan, which then opens up vertically. It comes with a two-plate gas stove and bottle, as well as a sink with running water, lots of storage space for cutlery, crockery, a kettle and so forth.
The caravan can even have its own custom-built tent made to make it even more versatile. The suspension is a rub axle, and the wheels are also customized to whatever you want. Furthermore, the whole thing hits the scales at 470kg, so it really doesn’t weigh its tow vehicle down at all.
It might just be my opinion, but I don’t think there can be much cooler things in this world than taking a cross-country trip in something like this.
It looks damn cool, it’s fast, and it can still go everywhere. And when you’re tired of driving you just park it and you have a holiday home pretty much anywhere.Cutting Room Floor