THE MIGHTY 79 COPS AN EPIC SHAKEDOWN
(PHOTOS: CHRIS & NICOLE MCINTOSH)
Many readers will remember Chris and Nicole McIntosh’s tricked out 79 Series LandCruiser ‘DTOUR’, as featured in the July 2019 issue of 4WD Touring Australia.
When we first spoke with Chris and Nicole, they’d recently completed the fitout of their head-turning dual cab Cruiser, and were in the process of gearing up for some large-scale adventures after knocking over a few shorter local trial runs.
After owning a string of earlier vehicles, they’d figured out exactly what they wanted in a 4WD and set out to build their own version of ‘the ultimate tourer’.
To recap, they picked up their 2019 model 79 Series dual cab a clean slate, and rendered the services of TJM Hunter Valley and MITS Alloy in Newcastle to help realise their dream.
A standout feature was the removable camper canopy constructed and fitted by MITS Alloy, housing a state of the art 12V system, a ClearView kitchen setup, Waeco fridge, Travel Buddy oven, water tanks, camp lighting and more.
The other most marked addition was DTOUR’s corrugation-crushing 4” suspension upgrade. A JMACX rear coil spring conversion allows for superior axle articulation while correcting the dual cab’s wheel track.
Matched with a set of Kings remote reservoir shocks plus a set of AirBag Man high-pressure airbags controlled via onboard inflation kit linked to a hardwired compressor and reserve tank. The setup boosts the Cruiser’s GVM up to 3,900kg and manages to marry brute force capability with unbelievably refined onroad manners.
POINTS OF DIFFERENCE
DTOUR is a handsome rig by any metric, and with hordes of high gauge playthings and some less common upgrades, it’s an obvious conversation starter when traversing tracks and posted up at campgrounds around the country.
Chris reckons that the most common queries pertain to the JMACX kit, dual UHFs and the removable canopy.
“We often travel in a convoy, so we use one UHF for a channel for our group and we use the other UHF to listen out on the common channel for any road obstacles or oncoming oversize vehicles.
“It’s come in handy more often that you’d think. Also, if we were to have a problem with the primary UHF in a remote area, then we’ve always got a backup unit on hand.”
The removable canopy was at the top of Chris and Nicole’s wishlist when setting up their rig, and it’s become an integral part of their travelling setup.
“It’s a must for us as we’ve always wanted the option of setting up camp at our desired location, then having full use of the car to explore the area. Also being able to ditch the weight when we’re at home and having full use of the table top tray is a bonus.”
LEARNING TO LOVE
After a few months of serious use and with a couple of hardcore remote touring missions in the bag, Chris and Nicole are starting to feel more in tune with their rig and have fallen in love with all the features they were dreaming of prior to and during the build.
“We’re loving how much we use the onboard airbag adjustment feature, whether it’s adjusting the pressure on the fly to a change in the terrain, effortless load levelling or assisting in levelling up the vehicle at camp.”
When we picked their brains regarding potential future adjustments or upgrades, they admitted that they might be finally satisfied with the state of the build.
“We’ve been trialling using a new rooftop tent for shorter overnight stops due to the quicker set up and packdown,” Chris mentions.
Other than that, the big 79 is a completed thought. The finished expression of the dream to build ‘the ultimate tourer’.
HIGH COUNTRY TOURING
With modifications and upgrades completed, accessory lists ticked off and practise trips in the bag, it was time to put DTOUR through its paces on its first long range offroad touring mission.
On their return, we caught up to get a rundown on their travels.
“We loved every destination and all aspects of the trip, so it’s hard to single out trip highlights… but the Victorian High Country was definitely unforgettable!” said Chris.
“During our time in the High Country, we visited Craigs, Lovicks and Howitts Huts, plus a few other old High Country relics.
“We tackled the Billy Goat Bluff Track, splashed through multiple crossings of the Crooked River and ticked off the famous Blue Rag Range Track.
“Our goal was to embrace rough conditions and to tackle the toughest terrain we could find. We wanted to put the Cruiser to the test and use it for the purpose we built it. We were blown away with its performance and just how capable it is.”
Chris mentioned that although they were hugely excited to visit the High Country and that the clear alpine landscapes did not disappoint, the rugged Flinders Ranges also gave him a solid punch to the solarplexus.
“For anyone planning on travelling through the Flinders Ranges, we’d really recommend doing the Skytrek tour from Willow Springs.
“You can do a self-guided or a guided 4WD tour. It takes you through the family owned property and brings you up to speed on the history of the property and surrounding area.
“There are some challenging tracks along the way which you can choose to attempt or bypass. If your vehicle’s up to it, we’d really recommend having a crack at these, as you get to experience some unbelievable views of the ranges.”
Back at home in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney, Chris reckons that they’ve just about cleared the last of the red outback dust from the deep corners and crannies within the rig.
You might eventually be able to clear the physical traces of the outback from a vehicle with enough deep cleaning and elbow grease, but clearing it from between your ears is another story altogether.
“Our next big trip for 2020 is up to Cape York and the across the Top End,” Chris grins.
“It’s our second honeymoon and we can’t wait!”