Since 1951, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been a symbol of practicality, reliability, and durability the world over. It's said that when Toyota enters a new market they first sell the Land Cruiser to build a solid reputation, progressively adding other vehicles as time goes on. Being the longest running vehicle series in the Toyota line-up, they must be doing something right. The 70 series is the purest modern form of what the Land Cruiser has always been. When Expeditions 7 was looking to take two vehicles to every single continent, the choice was simple - the 78 Series 'Troopie'.
A Note from Scott Brady, E7 Expedition Leader
For Expeditions 7 we wanted to select the vehicle with the best combination of durability and capability. Given that the expedition spent little time in North America, we were not constrained to purchase a North American specification vehicle. After a series of discussions amongst the team, we decided upon the VDJ78 Land Cruiser. Certainly Defenders and G-Wagens are worth consideration, but no other vehicle has the reputation for ultimate reliability as the 70 Series, and in the rare event that one does have a mechanical issue, Toyota has the most extensive dealership network on the planet. I am sure that those reading have the question: How do you get a VDJ78 into the US? The simple answer is that you do not. The expedition trucks are registered and insured in New Zealand. They will only be in North America for the duration of the modifications and the segments from Prudhoe Bay to Arizona and then Arizona to Cape Spear, Canada. Having traveled on six continents in vehicles a varied as Unicats, Defenders, and Jimnys, I am confident that the Land Cruiser is the right choice for this unique adventure. We will operate in -70 to +120 and on all seven continents, from crossing the largest glacier in Europe to the Kalahari in Africa, we will test the limits of these legendary trucks.
Even though the Land Cruiser is sold in America, the 70 series remains the elusive rare animal. It's been decided that there aren't enough people in the United States that would actually put down the cash to own one so they've never made it to the US. Since we couldn't just head down to the Toyota dealer for these specialized vehicles, the journey for our brand new Land Cruisers starts in Toyota City, Japan, where the team flew to pick them up right from the assembly line.
It's a misconception that any Land Cruiser sold outside of North America is by default a Rest of World specification vehicle. These two troopies happen to be a New Zealand/Oceania specification. It allows the vehicles to still have the simplicity and durability the 70-series offers with slightly more comfort, as the vehicle has air-conditioning and additional safety features such as airbags and side impact protection. The main benefit of the New Zealand Specification is the inclusion of Toyota's all new 4.5 litre V8 common rail diesel engine, which produces 430Nm of torque from an impressive 1200 rpm.
In addition to the New Zealand Specification, there were several additional options available to the team. Here's the exact delivery specification for the vehicles:
- 78 Three Door Configuration
- LX Package
- White Color
- 4.5L Twin Turbo V8 Diesel
- 5 Speed Manual Transmission
- 16” Split Steel Wheels
- Air Intake Snorkel
- Air Conditioning
- Dual Airbags and Side Impact Protection
- High Country Pack with Front and Rear Differential Locks
- Factory Sub Tank with Twin Fuel Gauges (180L total)
- High Idle Switch
- Twin Bucket Seats with Center Console
- Radio Delete
The New Zealand registered Land Cruisers shortly after arrival in the United States.
The Land Cruisers were loaded with some gear and essential spares that would be hard to source for the Americas leg of the trip.
The 'Holy-Grail' of Land Cruiser aficionados - Factory Electric Cross-Axle Locking Differentials.
The vehicles are right-hand drive with a 5 speed manual and front and rear cross-axle locking differentials.
The rear fuel tank visible here is one of two 90 liter units onboard, with factory gauges.
The team decided to elect the 'Radio Delete' option.
The speedometer on the NZ Specification 78 Series is in KM/H, note the duel fuel gauges.
Isn't this great on a 2012 model year vehicle?
The Idle Up option tells the computer to increase the engines idle to allow for more power under periods of demand such as winching.
You never know if you'll need it, but it's nice to have factory touch up paint for a 70 series!
Stay tuned as over the next few days we'll be bringing you Part II: The Modifications.
Specifications of the 78 Series Troop Carrier:
- Overall length: 5210mm (205”)
- Overall width: 1790mm (70.5”)
- Overall height: 2115mm (83.2”)
- Wheelbase: 2980mm (117.3”)
- Minimum ground clearance: 235mm (9.25”)
- Approach angle: 38˚
- Departure angle: 25˚
- Wading depth: 700mm (27.5”)
- Turning circle: 13.6m (45’)
- Gross vehicle weight: 3300kg (7,255 lbs.)
- Curb weight: 2245 – 2355kg (5,191 lbs.)
- Payload: 945kg (2,064 lbs.)