The ultimate LC79 tourer with more to come...
DREAMS rarely come true, unless you’ve got plenty of time, you plan properly and you’re prepared to put in the hard yards; which is precisely what Allan and Kathy Huxtable did. The end result after nearly six years is this tough-as-teak, fully kitted Toyota LC79 single-cab.
Their dream was one we all share, to escape the rat race and disappear over a dusty horizon on the Big Trip, exploring every remote campsite, rutted track and waterway in this awesome country of ours – and not worry about time. Yep, we’re already envious.
GOTTA START SOMEWHERE
ALLAN and Kathy initially built the Cruiser for shorter escapes: a few weeks across the Simpson Desert, a month doing Cape York, etc. The vehicle already had the schmick canopy (built by MFI Service Bodies in Warragul, Victoria, but designed by Allan), rooftop tent, kitchen, fridge and electrics. Circumstances changed when Allan accepted a redundancy from his job, which led to a re-evaluation of what they wanted to do, and the couple sold up everything (yep, including the house) and hit the road on a more permanent basis, alternating between work periods (to fund travel) and heading out exploring more of Australia.
They just needed to add a few things to their touring kit first, such as a caravan and a tinny, which, in turn, meant more mods for the Cruiser – the perfect excuse for Allan, who takes any chance he gets to improve on what’s already a pretty awesome touring rig.
GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT
“THE Cruiser’s six years old, but it’s an ongoing transformation,” Allan said. “I wouldn’t say it’s finished yet, it’s still a work in progress.”
For a work in progress, the Cruiser is impressive. The canopy and its internal setup has been tweaked slightly over the years, but the setup (two side doors and one large rear slide-out tray underneath) retains all the essentials, with the kitchen, fridge, cooker, lights, food and allimportant beers on one side, accessed via a large lift-up door. The drawer setup on this side is excellent, with the larger items positioned lower down, and the lighter-weight plastic drawers capable of holding food, condiments and smaller utensils. Allan has also utilised one of MSA 4X4’s excellent drop-down fridge slides for the Waeco fridge, maximising cargo space on that side and ensuring everything’s close to hand.
The opposite side of the canopy is where larger gear is stored, as well as tools, a gas bottle, a Coleman hot-water camp shower, and drawers loaded with recovery gear and other equipment. Also fitted inside the canopy is the power system, comprising two 120amp/h deep-cycle batteries, an ARB air compressor and a Redarc 1000-Watt inverter; while Redarc’s excellent Manager 30 battery management system keeps it all running smoothly. Hidden underneath is a 110L stainless steel water tank, accessed via a 12V pump.
A boon for the couple is that rooftop tent (also built by MFI Service Bodies) on top of the canopy, with Allan stoked that the unit can fit a double mattress inside it.
“The first time up in the Cape we (had) a tent and inflatable mattress,” he said ruefully. “Then across the Simpson we had stretchers, which didn’t really work, so we thought, ‘something had to change’.”
The rooftop tent features a heavy-duty PVC outer with a full-mesh inner, allowing use in any conditions, be it chasing additional crossflow ventilation on balmy Cape York nights, or when you’re zipped closed for chilly desert evenings.
The rooftop tent’s solid top incorporates a boat loader for the couple’s Sea Jay 3.9 Nomad tinny, along with a permanently affixed Redarc 200W solar panel. Cleverly, Allan has built a unique boat-loading system that uses the Cruiser’s Runva 11XP winch (a waterproof jobbie), which is housed in an ARB bullbar.
“I have a bracket that fits onto the bullbar, so the winch rope goes straight up onto this bracket that’s about a metre high,” Allan explained. The rope then goes across to the back to hook onto the boat. This way, the rope doesn’t get wrecked on the bullbar and doesn’t mark the bonnet.
“You only have one winch and they play up when you don’t use them, so putting the boat on and off means you know it works!”
LIFTED AND LOADED
THE rooftop tent gets plenty of use, but Allan and Kathy also tow a caravan for when they’re staying in one place for