79 Series LandCruiser
V8 Turbo Diesel Dual Cab
to receiving so many emails and questions on Facebook, YouTube and various 4x4
forums we have created an entire web page and a YouTube video just for the 79
series Landcruiser (VDJR79).
We have also made an entire page just
on fixes and improvments to the Toyota 70 series Landcruiser, for that page see TOYOTA 70 SERIES FIXES and ISSUES.
For everything else about the 79
Dual cab cruiser keep reading below.
Updated as of AUG
Since 2013 many
videos about my 79 series Landcruiser (Sleipnir) have been made including 8
different stages of the build, my thoughts & 100,000km review on the 79 series
Dual cab and the modifications I have made to it, all due to the many emails,
YouTube questions, Instagram and Facebook questions.
During this time a
lot has changed due to many factors and requirements. Above all my main issue
since the first ‘complete build’ weight and handling has been the issue.
taken 6 years and many variations big & small to get it right. The
following will help save you money and give you plenty of food for thought.
When we first uploaded this page to the
website I had the 79 series Landcruiser for just 3 months (that was from
December 2013, picked up from Toyota dealer Sep 2013), now as of August 2019 I
have had the 79 series Landcruiser for nearly 6 years and just during those
years I have taken Sleipnir to;
The Simpson Desert, Deep into the Pilbara, Broome
to Walcott Inlet, Barrington Tops NSW, Flinders Range SA, The Anne Beadell HWY,
The Australian bight 7 times, and these places countless times: Lancelin,
Mundaring, Bremer bay, Esperance, Julimar SF, Harvey, Brunswick, Outback
stations near Paynes Find, Wedge Island, Grey, Hill river coastal
tracks at Cervantes, North Head Jurien bay, Wilbinga, Seabird, Murchison,
Blackwood, the steep hills of Nannup & Balingup, D’entrecaste NP, Israelite
Bay, Holland track, Gold fields, Adelaide rd, Wellington NP and more that I
just can’t think of right now, I think you get the picture here.
for 6 years with more history than most could possibly count within such a time.
The 79 series
Landcruiser has been through thick and thin over the last 6 years and has
handled all this without being towed home once. BUT things have broken over
those years. Here is a list of those and the causes behind it:
- alternator which has been replaced with a water-cooled 100% sealed
unit. Details here
- Rear factory half shaft axle snap (from wear and tear due to weight)
- Front diff centre (cursed by stupidity)
- Front drive shaft (incorrect suspension by two separate installers)
- Rear drive shaft (ramp over angle taken to the limit causing heavy
contact with a rock step)
- Rear diff and Jamax half shaft axel (heavy wear and tear over time from
weight and towing in extreme conditions, axle broke taking the rear center with it. Still able to drive it home 3000kms while still towing in 1wd/3wd)
- Driver side mirror (tree contact at speed)
- Rear Wheel bearing (too heavy a vehicle)
- 3 steel rims (general stuff rocks and rough terrain)
- 6 tyres in total staked across 4 different brands
It's by far the most torqued vehicle I
have ever driven from stock; off road nothing really stops it.
During a trip from wedge to Grey I
managed to get slightly bogged on the beach, and all I had to do was put it in
1st gear low, lock the front & rear lockers and just let it idel itself
out, that's how much low torque it has!
My previous 4wd was Toyota Hilux SR5 Extra
cab petrol which I had for over 7 years so comparing the two is like apples and
oranges, they are different in so many ways.
There was nothing
wrong with the extra cab Hilux apart from being too small in the seating
department, with a growing family a dual cab was required and I had been eyeing
off the 70 series Landcruisers for a long time, so the day they started selling
the dual cab 79 series Landcruiser I started saving and waiting.
It was not a hard
choice to make, given a V8 turbo diesel in a tray back Ute with solid axles,
what more could you want?! It sure ticks all my boxes and being a Toyota there
was no changing my mind.
So far a fair bit has been done to the 79 series landcruiser and having learnt from the previous vehicles I had I had a modification
plan in place.
I made plenty of mistakes on the most
recent 4x4 (the Hilux), I had to redo most of the setup due to various
situations, so a fair bit was learnt about my 4wd setup needs. It really saves
you money to stop and really think about what mods you need and more
importantly how you need the 4x4 setup in every aspect of 4 wheel driving,
touring and camping!
I knew exactly what I wanted to
do and so far this 79 series Landcruiser is setup exactly how I would like it
and the canopy is coming along well with still a fair bit of DIY work to be
BUT guess what!
Although I built exactly what I wanted it was far too heavy. What I wanted cost
a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle and lessened the handling of it.
list above I mentioned the suspension was not done correctly and that didn’t
help much either.
Update AUG 2019
(latest changes and mods PLUS why) On The 79 Series Landcruiser:
The upgrade in bar work on the 79
One of the oldest
parts of the 79 series Landcruiser mods still there is the Opposite Lock big tube steel Bull
Well firstly it looked
the part as it was the only 63mm tube bar at the time and I still think it
looks really tough and robust. Really suits the 79 series Landcruiser look!
Now days every other
big brand followed suit and 63mm bar work for the 70 seems standard. I have
stuck with the O/L because I don’t really like the look of the TJM version and
the ARB version has a centre bar making spottie mounting a bit of a pain and
every other brand I just don’t really know much about or trust.
The exhaust upgrade number 3!
The exhaust was
upgraded from a single 3’ Manta to a twin 3’ inch Red back exhaust which I
loved so much because the cruiser sounded unreal & seemed to breathe very well.
Now however its on its 3rd and here is why: The twin Redback would
not fit with the new fuel tanks and tray so it had to be changed. Not only that
the old twin pipes had been worked hard and where rusting out so either way it
would have needed a change sooner or later.
The third exhaust is a Torquit
single 3.5 inch pipe. The sound is different but after tweaking it I’m now
happy with the note it sings. This to me is important, it has to sound sweet
when hitting dunes at full pace, I’m a bit old school and I like to listen to
the engine and exhaust while driving.
The Driving lights:
LED roof bars:
Previously I had a
cheap Chinese LED bar on the front, it kind of did the job but after a while it
started to fade into a light brown colour; the plastic light cover became a
milky white and was blocking the luminums emitted from the light bar.
Well you get
what you pay for! I then went for Altronics LED bars and
they were OK for spread not for distance.
Now Ive got 2 20 inch
Lightforce LED’s which are spots and fill the gap of light on the roads/tracks.
I’ve slightly angled them to gain a little bit of spread yet kept the distance.
Front driving lights:
In the beginning I
had Lightforce HID’s 70watts.I then changed them to the HTX’s which are a combo
LED 80watt and HID 70watt.
Best lights Ive ever had and they are two in one.
I’ve had them for 3 years I think and I’m happy with them. They do everything I
need and more.
Getting more from you under powered VDJ70 engine:
The boys at Perth
Diesel Performance tuned my 79 Series Landcruiser early on first with a Unichip Q which was
upgraded lter to a Q4 with injector drivers. This changed my cruiser from a slug
to a passenger like car on the highway. It also helped with all the extra
weight I was carrying. Now days its like a rocket as I've taken a lot of weight
off which makes it so much fun on sand now.
I have 5 different
tunes which I helped co test and refine with PDP.
- Tune 1 overtaking and sand dune climbs
- Tune 2 daily driving
- Tune 3 Towing
- Tune 4 High idle from airing up, winching or controlled crawling
- Tune 5 factory Toyota tune
6 years later and
Sleipnir is still running great!
As most other
Toyota’s and some other vehicles when they are released from factory they are
very under powered which is also why they are so reliable, but there is plenty
of ‘safe’ power gains to have from your Toyota 70 series diesel motor.
With the correct
power/torque chips (in my case the Unichip Q4) and the right person to ‘LIVE’
tune it on an actual dyno, there is so much locked power, torque to gain. Not
only that, the engine & Exhaust temperature and drivability have
My 70 was tuned for
drivability not for crazy numbers at high rpm. I don’t want a race car I want
to drive out there and be able to drive home again.
My best advice here
is to tune it safe and not for numbers, it’s a diesel not a petrol race car.
For my review and Experience about the Unichip Q4 see this
About The Unichip Q4 In The 70 series LandCruiser See
As mentioned above I
have recently replaced the Toyota factory Alternator with a Rapid Power
water-cooled 100% sealed alternator in order to prevent the common problem
these 70 series Landcruiser have when encountering mud.
For more details click here for the Toyota 70 series Issues and Fixes
Air intake upgrade (real Snorkel):
The Toyota 70 series factory
snorkel is not a ‘snorkel’, it is just a raised air in-take so be warned and be
careful when crossing water. To see what I did to fix this and why the factory
air intake should not be trusted as a snorkel click here
Since then I’ve been offered to test
the Armax which I have rejected due to the following which is my opinion: I’m
not a fan of the look, I don’t see the point in a 4 inch when the intake is
still 3inch and I’m not a fan of how it mounts to the airbox by cutting and
Again my opinion, I get asked a lot
which is why I explain. This is not me having a cheap shot. Keep in mind I use
a Safari snorkel which is the smaller version of the ARmax Safari snorkel.
The ease on modifying a 70 series Landcruiser:
There are so many
accessories available for the 70 series and everyone so far who has worked on
my cruiser have said how easy and enjoyable it is to work on them as everything
has been kept simple, nearly the entire interior just clips apart carpet and
Being able to fit 35
inch tyres with just a 3inch suspension lift is quite amazing considering most
modern 4x4s are very limited when it comes to wheel size. This is mostly due to
IFS vehicles, which require cutting into the guards and even body work or over
the top lifts.
The engine bay is the most technical area however the rest of the vehicle has
been kept very basic and similar to previous 70 series.
79 Series Landcruiser Ride Comfort and cab
The 79 series
Landcruiser is surprisingly comfy or so I thought up to about 2015. At this
stage the seats began to feel ‘used’ after all the time in them. Long drives
1000+ kms took its toll on my lower back.
I then put some Stratos seats in the 79 Series Landcruiser and it is honestly the best mod I’ve done to the interior of the
vehicle to date! I’ve had those seats for 18 months as of AUG 2019 and they are
still serving well although there is a bit of wear I’m starting to see. (Review
Space on the rear
seats is pretty much the same as any other dual cab on the market; however the
windows are so big on the 70 series and combined with the rear seat height
compared to the window kids absolutely love it as they have a huge window to
look out of. BUT if the kids are teenagers they will not like the rear seat
space if they are any taller the 5 foot 10. Leg room is limited.
Conclusion of the 79 Series LandCruiser:
The 79 series
Landcruiser is produced mainly for mining, farming and towing purposes, however
the V8 turbo diesel ute makes for the perfect base platform for the ultimate
4wd tourer, exploring vehicle or just a tough weekend warrior.
As of 2019 its rumored that the end of the V8 is near, a possible V6 twin turbo is coming or
so the rumors have it…
In my biased opinion
this is the best current new 4WD as a base platform to modify. Like I said
above “It was not a hard choice to make, given a V8 turbo diesel in a tray back
Ute with solid axles, what more could you want?”
For Information About The Unichip Q4 In The 70 series LandCruiser See Here.
Engine: 1VD-FTV, 4461cc, V8, 32 valve, Turbo Diesel
Power: 151kW @ 3400rpm(at flywheel) With
Unichip: 129kW @ 3200rpm at rear wheels
Torque: 430Nm @ 1200rpm (at flywheel) With
Unichip: 472Nm @ 1600rpm at rear wheels
5 Speed manual
GXL vs. Workmate
- VDJ70 GXL 2012 onwards roll out with front and
rear lockers standard (a massive bonus)
- Factory flares
- Power windows
- Keyless entry
- Vinyl seats
- Rubber flooring
- Steel rims
- Slightly bigger stock tyres
- No flares
- No power windows
- No Keyless entry
- No factory lockers
- The GXL is well worth spending the extra coin on
especially if it has factory lockers
PART 2: March 2019
The rear tray/canopy evolution:
The rear evolution is
a long and big one! I’ll start from the beginning and work my way to Aug 2019:
Stage 1; The beginning of the long road, I had
a solid plan well before picking up the Cruiser. The plan was to fit an alloy
canopy on top of my heavy steel tray. A few lessons were learnt here. You pay
for what you get! I got a good cheap price for a canopy from a local Perth
business $4500. It wasn’t the best built canopy but it did the job, it was a
heavy box and wasn’t really what I wanted. On top of that I put an Ostricwing awning
at the time which was awesome but also very heavy. This I had for 2 and bit
years before I sold the canopy because #1 it was far too heavy, #2 with all
that space I seemed to bring way too much stuff with me & #3 it was a poor
Stage 2; After selling the canopy I was back
to a flat tray with toolboxes and my fridge on the outside, this was nice and
light plus very simple BUT not great for creating content. I didn’t have
anywhere to charge things etc. so plans for a new half box started. Before that
happened, I was rear ended and my tray got replaced via insurance.
Stage 3; I went to On Track Fabrication and
got them to build a new tray with my design and it looked mint and wasn’t too
heavy but was heavier than my previous tray. This then later had a frame
attached to it to enclose the tray and act as a roof rack plus solar panel
Stage 4; By this stage I got a custom half box
made up by C&S canopies, this was a design to be a kitchen/charging station
for camera gear and a drawer system on the opposite side. Guess what!? It ended
up so heavy again and the cruiser was back to handling like a boat off-road. I
sold the drawer system to reduce weight after one single trip to the Kimberly
but was stuck with the heavy half box as I had no funds and time to change it.
Stage 5; A bit later I had been chatting a lot
with Jakkie from Quickpitch campers and together we designed Project Black, a
new style of halfbox/drawer system that ticket all the boxes. The boxes ticket
were the ones from learning from mistakes previously.
Project black only
weighs 50kg compared to 200kg from the previous half box. No welds! All rivets
and glue, super light yet super strong. This was the biggest improvement and
best thing I’ve done to date. Most of the design credit here needs to go to
Jakkie as he transformed my needs into this clever light weight build. I’ve
tested it for 18months with only one minor water leak that has been sorted. No
cracks, warping or damage to report.
Stage 6; a bit later I got the opportunity to
test and fit a new light weight PCOR tray from Patriot Campers which is only
220kg far lighter than anything else I’ve ever had. All alloy, rivets &
glue. This tray I had zero input into the design but I was sold on the weight
and the unique steps & looks. I then added project black to the tray and
it’s the best setup to date. I guess only time will tell but as of August 2019
this is the best and 100% lightest setup I’ve had to date.
Is the 79 Series Landcruiser
If I told you it was completed,
I would be Bullshitting you. There is always room for improvement but as for the
rear I can say that unless something goes really wrong I won’t be changing the
in any BIG way because its taken me 6 years to get the weight right. It handles
so well now unlike ever before and that is a balance I don’t want to mess with.
As for the rest of
the 79 series Landcruiser. Well, I like to try new things and change things up when they
don’t really work or wear out.
Evolution of the 79 series
Landcruiser V8 Turbo Diesel VDJR79:
Stage 1: Stock.
Stage 2: Bar Work.
Stage 3: Lift & Tyres on the 79 Series Landcruiser.
Stage 4: Lights and Storage Solutions.
Stage 5: The face-lift with new big tube barwork.
Stage 6: New custom tray
Custom tray with frame
Halfbox and drawers added
Stage 7: Project Black
Stage 8: PCOR tray with Project Black plus new fuel tanks, rear winch, new
Thanks for reading, any other questions or comments please
Landcruiser and off road nut!
See Also Toyota 70 Series Landcruiser Fixes & Solutions.
Thanks to the following sponsor who have helped and been
involved with my 79 series Landcruiser:
SS Autorepairs (Unichip Perth Agent)
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