From Boulevard 'Cruiser to Adventure 'Wheeler
The 100-series Land Cruiser, manufactured from 1998 to 2007, is a very capable adventure vehicle. These days, you can find a clean specimen in the Web classifieds for around $12,000. The 100-series comes equipped with a powerful 4.7L V-8, full-time 4WD with locking center differential, and a very luxurious cabin. Plus, it hauls people and cargo through the roughest terrain just as easily as it hauls them to a night at the Roxbury.
All spoken, this vehicle was meant to be driven off road. Even at stock ride height, the 100-series, with independent front suspension and rear coil springs, tackles the harshest terrain with ease. Over time, though, we've identified two areas in need of improvement: added cargo capacity and heavy-duty rocker protection.
Loaded to the gills with camp gear and two dogs, interior space becomes very limited. We were looking for a solution to our lack of cargo room and looked up! The factory roof rack is rated to hold a maximum load of 150 pounds but lacks a solid base and only a few tie-down points needed to secure extra gear. So, we contacted the rack experts at BajaRack, headquartered in San Diego, California, with manufacturing in Ensenada, Mexico. The full-length frame that's specific to the 100-series is made of 1.5-inch steel tubing, features a zinc primer, and a durable, black powdercoat finish. It measures 82 inches long by 51 inches wide. The BajaRack can accommodate up to 600 pounds and secures our rooftop tent, utility boxes, and fuel and water containers safely.
The next order of business is to remove the "customized" (i.e., crushed) factory side steps and install off-road–capable rocker guards. There's one rock slider on the market that is unique from the rest, built by the Toyota specialists at Metal Tech 4x4, located in Newberg, Oregon. Metal Tech builds armor for FJ40s, Tacomas, 4Runners, FJ Cruisers, and 80- and 100-series 'Cruisers.
Metal Tech 4x4's signature two-stage rub rail design is U.S. federally trademarked and is the ultimate quarter-panel protector. The aft portion of the rail extends an extra 1.5 inches further outboard from the main rail, which helps push the rear quarter of your vehicle away from anything you are traversing. The main body has an “aircraft wing” style construction, with solid outer shell and ribbed inner supports, giving it high strength with reduced weight.
BajaRack's stout utility rack and Metal Tech 4x4's extreme rock sliders transformed our Toy from a boulevard 'Cruiser to an adventure 'wheeler.