During our wait for the X3 camper the Travelling Two have been doing plenty of planning and plotting, coming up with a list of destinations and overlanding trails that we can squeeze in between treatment sessions. One of these was a Simpson Desert crossing following the Madigan Line, the path trodden by Dr Cecil Madigan and his party during the first journaled European crossing of the desert.
The Madigan Line is near top of the overlanding list for many Australian off roaders and is usually considered a vehicle only crossing. However as the track has become better defined there is an increasing number of trailers being towed across in the easier (comparatively) west to east direction, driving over dunes on the more gentle western rise before dipping down the steep windblown eastern faces. Given the difficulties of towing in the desert we elected to take the safer option of doing the trip with a group, and signed up for a camper trailers only crossing with Moon Tours in March 2021, led by Trent Moon and his well known father Ron.
When looking at the type of trips we were considering it was clear that the Landcruiser would need some modifications as it was presently set up for solo expeditions of relatively short duration, and without the added burden of a trailer on its hitch. An upgrade list was put together along with a budget that included items such as:
- GVM upgrade given additional payload and hitch load of a trailer
- Long range fuel tank, for the desert crossing but also the long outback stretches we had planned
- Ability to carry extra water, preferably not in jerry cans in the car
- Helper air bags to assist with the varying load as fuel and water are used
- A rear wheel carrier to get the spare out from underneath where it may be damaged or act as a plow
- Ability to carry a second spare wheel and tyre for remote area safety
- Torque converter lock up kit for improved towing and engine braking
These and a few other improvements added up to a hefty bill which would mean over capitalising compared to resale value of the finished car. The 2015 model ‘Cruiser was at 170,000km, so although not old it was a country car that had done plenty of gravel road driving and was approaching a point where maintenance burden and reliability would start to be an added worry on long treks.
One unfortunate outcome of the current COVID situation is the financial difficulty it imposes on people. This has led to some very keen prices for new and used cars, although 200 Series Landcruisers are a bit of an exception due to pending replacement with the 300 Series upgrade. A combination of good luck and decisiveness put us in a position where we have secured a low mileage November ’19 VX Landcruiser that is already fitted out with an ARB bullbar, Warn winch, towing electrical kit and a pre-rego 3,845kg Old Man Emu GVM upgrade. Woo bloody hoo, almost the exact spec I would have gone with. And unbeknown to us, we were bidding against our neighbour for the same car and secured it by a freak of timing.
Although replacement of the Landcruiser is a significant unplanned expense we believe it will pay off in the long run because the resale value will cover the intended upgrades, plus we will gain benefit of a newer higher spec vehicle for the extended overland touring we have planned.
Next task was to get the Onyx Blue GXL cleaned up for sale, including polishing away those Conondale NP pin stripes. I also removed the rear drawer set up and sold them as I planned to build a new set for the next car that would incorporate a few updates and evolutions (more on that soon).
So, that’s how we have ended up with two nearly identical vehicles sitting on the driveway, the same only different. I am presently in the process of swapping most of the accessories across rather than buying new and incurring depreciation on the old gear if it remained with the blue GXL, this is one of our strategies to minimise financial impact of the purchase.
The blue GXL will benefit from nice new 2019 model features like a new exhaust system, black side steps, 18″ wheels and near new BFG K02 tyres, which will give its buyer a pretty smart looking 200 Series at reasonable cost.
Coming across to the ’19 VX is the steel slider/steps, roof rack with light bar, Torqit exhaust, steel bash plates, recovery points, wheels and tyres, cargo barrier, catch can and pre-filter.
And the pièce de résistance – our nearly finished Patriot Campers X3 is ordered in graphite grey, by coincidence the same colour as the Landcruiser we just acquired. 🙂