How To Build A Toyota Land Cruiser For Overlanding And Four-Wheeling
Travel, Camp, Off-Road. Repeat.
Building a rig for overlanding isn't just about the bits and pieces you add. You have to start first with the basics: which vehicle to build. In the case of Ben Gardner, it came down to Toyota. He had a '90 4Runner that was used for traveling and four-wheeling, but found it underpowered and it had a manual transmission. Since his off-roading adventures were becoming increasingly more technical, he wanted a solid axle, an automatic transmission, and something bigger. That answer came in the form of the 100 Series Land Cruiser, and he bought this '99 model from a friend. Not only did it tick many boxes, but it also had an electric locker and a "lack of electronics." It also already had a lift and aftermarket wheels and tires.
Then Ben got to work. We were lucky to get him to share some invaluable insight that could help with your own building process: "Take your time. Purchase the parts you want instead of ones that are less expensive or easier to get." For example, he originally bought a set of aftermarket bumpers simply because they were in stock and not with a four-month wait. He was also in a hurry to get the vehicle done for an event, so he had no choice but to buy what was available. "Then turning around a year later and buying the bumpers I actually wanted turned into a pain. Having to remove the old bumpers, install the new bumpers, spend money again on bumpers, and then try to sell the old bumpers was a pain." He also did pretty much everything himself. "I went to school for collision repair and that's how I got my start in customizing cars. I met a few friends who help me and guide me, and that's how I started doing my own thing. It's nice to be able to know exactly where things are or how they are wired/routed. Makes it a lot easier for trail fixes," said Ben. "I like to wrench on my vehicles because I take more pride in them. Plus, I get a sense of accomplishment on the weekends knowing I upgraded or fixed something."
On the one hand, Ben has made a lot of modifications. On the other hand, he hasn't. That's part of the beauty of this Land Cruiser: It's capable off-road, comfortable for overlanding, and at the ready for more improvements—or none at all.
At A Glance
Vehicle: '99 Toyota Land Cruiser
Owner: Ben Gardner
Stomping grounds: Las Vegas, Nevada
Build time: 2 years
Engine: 4.7L V-8
Transmission: Toyota A343F four-spd automatic
Transfer case: HF2A two-spd
Low range ratio: 2.49:1
Crawl ratio: 29:1
Front axle/differential: Toyota 8-in
Rear axle/differential: Toyota 9.5-in/electric locker
Front: Old Man Emu torsion bars and shocks
Rear: Old Man Emu heavy-duty coils and shocks
Tires: 285/75R17 Toyo Open Country M/T
Wheels: 17x8.5 Rock Monster Wheels Hutchinson
Armor: White Knuckle Off Road Products rock sliders, Dissent Offroad bumpers, Slee Off-Road skidplates
Cool stuff: TRD supercharger, Doug Thorley headers, EBC brakes, Raptor liner-paint, Rigid Ind./Pioneer/Golight/Depo/HIDprojectors lights, Kenwood speakers, Pioneer stereo, Cobra CB, Roadwire leather seats, Land Cruiser Heaven leather steering wheel cover, Bubba Rope, Warn Epic recovery kit, Factor 55 Ultra hook/hitchlink, Hi-Lift Extreme 48-inch jack, Rhino Rack spade shovel, Titan exhaust air jack, 4-gallon RotopaX, ARB/Safari snorkel with Donaldson Filtration Solutions precleaner, ARB tree saver/Speedy Seal tire-repair kit/Elements fridge/drawers, Grey Man Tactical MOLLE panels, H3R performance fire extinguisher, Outer Limit Supply 6500 Series first aid kit, Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform/Sunseeker awning/Tagalong tent, Road Shower, Wellvisors window visors, 4x4 sPOD Source SE, Redarc charging system, Overland Solar panel, Viper alarm, Trail Tailor tailgate storage lid, Blue Ridge Overland Gear attic/sunvisor organizers, Wits' End center-console organizer/mat, DeLorme/Gaia GPS, Canyon Cooler