ARTICLE ONE: THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF THE TRACKS 4X4 TAGALONG 6X6 LANDCRUISER.
I get asked all the time about our amazing 200 series Landcruiser 6×6 that we use in our Tracks 4×4 Tagalong business.
So I thought I would write a series of articles on what it is, where it was customised, the electricals, and all the modifications that have been done to the car.
When it was time to update the tag a long touring vehicle we needed to consider the diversity of our destinations. These include the Canning stock route, Cape York, numerous tracks across the Simpson desert, Darling River and then our new amazing Backroads of NSW trip…details coming soon on this one.
So what were our requirements? Firstly, a well known and supported brand in Australia. We have had American imports before and found at the time the knowledge base and spare parts supply chain at times proved to be lacking. Secondly, a comfortable vehicle. We have had Oka’s and Iveco daily 4×4 vehicles before and though they were amazingly capable, they were not as comfortable as I required for consistent off road travel. Thirdly, load carrying capacity. We were chasing a vehicle that could be fully loaded with all the requirements of tag a long touring and still be comfortably under its GVM. This reduces the stress on the vehicle and makes for more reliability. This last requirement excluded vehicles like the 79 series cruiser and the Nissan Patrol ute, so what do you do?
I have a long history of modifying 4X4 vehicles for family touring and tagalong touring, so in 2017 the homework for the 6×6 project began. I had for many years viewed 6×6 as the ultimate touring vehicle but was not comfortable with the conversions offered at the time. Then came Australian Expedition Vehicles (AEV), headed by Michael McMillan. Michael was head of mechanical engineering for the Australian Army so he has a long pedigree working with 6×6 with the Perentie program as well as 6×6 trucks. We had several discussions about the requirements that we had, the process involved, the capabilities of the vehicle, and obviously the price. On this front we were lucky AEV needed a couple of customers early in the program so that they could gain second stage manufacturing on these vehicles. So in March 2017 we put our money where our mouth was and placed the order with AEV to undertake the 6×6 modification of a VX 200 series Landcruiser diesel.
We originally ordered a white one from a local Toyota dealer, only to be told a week before delivery that they did not agree with what our plans were for the vehicle and so they ripped up the contract and returned our deposit…aarrgghh the joys of modifying! Fortunately we were able to source a Merlot 2017 build VX at SciFleet Toyota in Brisbane. Brad McCarthy from Maxtrax fame very kindly visited Sci fleet for me and approved the vehicle for release to Townsville. Brad is well known to Michael from his days in the army but Maxtrax are also the proud owner of the first AEV 200 series modified by AEV. You may have seen this one in a 4×4 Action video or 4WD 24/7.
So we now had a vehicle and AEV were geared up to start the conversion. In the next article we will go into more detail on the modification process.