It is the Arctic Trucks conversion that everyone has been waiting for: a double cab Land Cruiser bakkie with 35-inch tyres. We visited Gary Swemmer at the TJM Pretoria store to have a look at this bruiser of a Cruiser that was built for a client in the DRC.
If there was one 4×4 we’ve been eager to see get the Arctic Trucks treatment, it was undoubtedly the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 – specifically the double cab bakkie.
How so? Well, the Cruiser 79 begs to be turned into an Arctic Truck. It is such a large and imposing bakkie, that 35-inch tyres do not seem particularly big on it. As you can see in the pictures, the tyres look perfectly suited to the bulky Cruiser.
Moreover, it makes sense to turn a Cruiser bakkie into an Arctic Truck. More than just about any other 4×4 or SUV, your average Cruiser does proper off-road duty on a fairly regular basis. People who buy Cruiser bakkies tend to make use of their full 4×4 potential. This is not a vehicle that lives only on the tarred roads of Johannesburg.
Cruisers are used on the waterlogged tracks of Moremi, the high dunes of the Namib, and the rocky trails of Lesotho, so added ground clearance and bigger wheels are very useful.
As you might have noticed, this Cruiser’s steering wheel sits on the left. This is because it was purchased in the DRC, and headed back there as soon as Gary and his team were done with the modifications. In fact, the client ordered two identical vehicles for use in the DRC.
Because of this, not only was an Arctic Trucks conversion installed, but some other must-have overland accessories were also fitted. There is a replacement bumper at the front, as well as a heavy-duty winch. The rear sports a new bumper with a tow bar and a carrier for the spare wheel. Multiple spotlights and a snorkel have also been fitted. The standard suspension has been swopped for a TJM one. The load area has a new cover that can be unlocked with the help of a remote. The last exterior modifications are “Land Cruiser” branded side steps and snazzy Arctic Trucks mud flaps.
Inside the cabin, a fancy Kenwood entertainment system as been fitted, and the standard utilitarian window winders that have to be operated manually have been replaced with electric switches.
The engine has also been beefed up a tad. Sitting under the bonnet of this Arctic Truck is a traditional naturally-aspirated diesel mill, so in order to give it a bit more power, a low-pressure turbocharger has been fitted. It doesn’t change things massively, but just gives the engine that bit of a boost it needs.
Of course, the Arctic Trucks conversion is also available on V6 petrol Cruisers, as well as the new V8 diesels, and there promises to be a steady demand for these models with AT conversions. Cruiser owners look for bragging rights around the campfire are sure to find big-wheeled AT Cruisers very appealing.
We’d certainly love to see what a Cruiser double cab with an Arctic Trucks conversion and a powerful engine under the bonnet can do on the sands of the Namib. It promises to be very impressive…
The standard AT conversion for the Land Cruiser 79 retails at R135 000. The Africa-spec modification, which includes items such as a replacement bull bar and winch, costs R175 000.
For more information, contact Gary Swemmer and his team at the TJM Pretoria store (previously LA Sport Pretoria East) on 012 809-0090.