Part 1: Uptown Cruiser Meets Backwoods Boys
2008 brought many great things to the world. We can't remember most of them, but we remember the winner of the 2008 4x4 of the Year, the Toyota Land Cruiser. Toyota has been building Land Cruisers for longer than many of our readers have been alive, and Toyota sold its first one in the United States in 1957. These trucks have gained a worldwide reputation as rugged wheeling machines straight from the factory floor, and last year we recognized that when we awarded the Cruiser our top 4x4. Toyota thanked us in a special way by offering us the keys to a Classic Silver Metallic 200 Series Cruiser as a project truck. When this $70,000 luxo ute arrived at our doorstep, we weren't sure they realized the types of things we do to trucks-and we certainly weren't going to tell them.
Truth is we are hard on equipment here at 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Our trucks are used for everything from hauling parts to towing projects to filling in as hotel rooms when we're on road trips. Yes, we treated this high-brow ride like any other wheeling rig in our quiver, and it didn't seem to mind one bit. Plus we worked with some of the leading aftermarket companies to modify the Silver Bullet into a great all-around wheeling, camping, towing, and junk-hauling machine. And when we say wheeling we mean wheeling-this 4x4 followed along on Ultimate Adventure as the home base for two of our field photogs, and it only came back with a handful of scratches, dings, and windshield chips.
We're sure there is some Toyota PR guy that might be forced to perform hara-kiri for ever giving us this extravagant vehicle to drive, but for the sake of you readers we're not going to lose sleep over it. Trucks and 4x4s are meant to be used. Like the millions of Land Cruiser drivers around the world hauling sheep and calves on ranches, exploring African vistas, and bombing through powdery bull dust across the Australian Outback, we plan to work this truck hard, no matter how much fun we have doing so.