They all come from Australian and South African tuners.
Few vehicles truly deserve the word "legendary" attached to them, but the Toyota Land Cruiser does. Australian farmers rely on them in the remote outback, explorers trust them driving into unknown areas with the harshest conditions in the world, and observers and aid workers trust their lives with them having to get in and out of war zones. Since it came into the world in 1951, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been a rugged, reliable, and capable off-roader, and that hasn't changed - no matter how comfortable and luxurious it has become inside. Still, that hasn't stopped builders from modifying them in many different ways, including Toyota itself.
Each year, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) puts on a trade show in Las Vegas, and there you can find the most outlandish and tackiest builds America has to offer. In 2016, Toyota showed off a Land Cruiser build that included the V8 engine being fitted with two giant Garrett turbochargers capable of taking the Land Cruiser to 220 mph. The turbos are mounted down in the corners of the bumpers because, well, why not?
"From the outside, the Land Speed Cruiser appears quite normal, quite subtle," said Motorsports Technical Center Manager Chuck Wade, making us wonder if he was looking at the same vehicle. "Every single system and component has been touched. The trick is getting the body back onto the heavily modified frame."
It's not just the Aussies that love a Land Cruiser; so do the South Africans. The South African firm Allers Rods & Customs took a 1976 FJ40 model to the extreme and created an outrageous old-school hot rod. It became a weird concoction after the in-house built suspension as the hot rod FJ40 has a differential from a Land Rover Discovery, the headlights from a MkI Volkswagen Golf, the seats from a Jeep Wrangler, and a 1UZ Lexus V8 making 300 hp. The paint is period correct for the model year and it somehow grounds this insane build.
JMACX is an Australian company that mainly specializes in suspension components and systems but also produces a kit to turn a Land Cruiser into a 6x6. The company turns various models into 6x6s, but this one is a Land Cruiser 200 and one of the more extreme results. It looks like it's designed to survive for some time in a devastated post-apocalyptic world and includes a sleeping area, a 138-liter and a 250-liter fuel tank, and two lithium-ion batteries. The Goodyear Wrangler tires seem like an odd choice, but when civilization has collapsed, 17-inch tires should still be easy to find.
Even at its most comfortable, the Land Cruiser has never been a luxury vehicle inside. Sure, you could get a Lexus LX, but why do that if you live in Bulgaria and Vilner is on your doorstep? Vilner specializes in luxury interiors, and for this commission on a modern Land Cruiser, the customizer used BMW E60 seats and "several tens of square meters of fine leather and Alcantara." The color is described as a "soft shade of Bordeaux," and almost as if Vilner is just showing off, it created a handbag to go with the Land Cruiser in the same leather.
Australia is the birthplace of Bruce Christian's FJ40 Land Cruiser drag racer. Christian built it for road-legal spec racing, which tows a trailer to the track. Obviously, the FJ40 is far from stock, but the body panels are mostly original, but the GM 6.2-liter V8 isn't. And yes, that's a Chevy badge on the front of the FJ40. Complete with nitrous oxide and a three-speed GM TH400 transmission, it lays down 415 horsepower at the wheels. Well, it did. The last reports were that Christian was planning to add a supercharger.
Here's some more madness from the land down under. Sahara is a trim level for the Land Cruiser in Australia, but Colin Byrne did not drive it home from a showroom. Poetically, it was burned out insurance write-off that Byrne brought back from the dead as a burnout monster. Burnouts are what this four-wheeled piece of insanity is built for, and it was a massive feat of engineering to get it there. The chassis and suspension was re-fabricated by a shop and rides on airbags, and the wiring doesn't touch the floor at the back of the Land Cruiser as, we kid you not, the tires are expected to catch fire more than once. The Chevy V8 engine has 8.8-liters of displacement and a Mooneyham 8/71 supercharger on top, providing eight pounds of boost and helping the engine produce 1,200 hp.
Putting this list together is helping remind us that we need to spend more time in Australia. This insane skid car is, amazingly, Tom Beltrame's first. He wanted to do something different, so he took an FJ40 Land Cruiser and went with the rat-rod look while switching out the engine for a Chevy big block V8 bored out to over eight liters and supercharged. A lot of fabrication went into making sure the FJ40 sits on the floor at the back, and it uses a custom four-link suspension setup. It's a wild burnout machine, to say the least.