When I write about builds, I like to consider how fit for the purpose it is. In this case, Jaime is planning a big trip with his family, so he wanted a comfortable vehicle with plenty of room to safely tow their caravan and explore.
While he will use it for more adventurous trips, like up the Old Telegraph Track, these trips aren’t his primary focus. This main trip style is why he has opted for all-terrain tyres in 33” rather than a larger diameter, a long wheelbase and a full-size canopy.
I’ll share how this LandCruiser performed on the Old Telegraph Track and what it was like to drive a bit later in the article, but first, let’s look at the comprehensive list of modifications.
The vehicle itself is a 2020 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series. To become a 200 Series ute or chopped 200 Series, it has undertaken a ute conversion and 750mm chassis extension at Creative Conversions.
The team at Norweld built and equipped the canopy in Cairns, and Pro Touring Concepts on the Gold Coast completed the rest of the build.
The canopy is a Norweld Deluxe Full Time Canopy – it’s massive! On the passenger, it features a Clearview Easy Slide ES-220 Plus and a large Dometic fridge. Beside this fridge are a large pantry drawer and a sturdy, slide-out, freestanding kitchen bench. There is plenty of room for storage bags on the shelf above the drawer or the long shelf higher.
The driver’s storage is a blank canvas for flexible bulk storage. On this trip, we used the space for an ARB fridge, chairs and swags. In addition, an ARB Twin Compressor is in the roof space – out of the way and with ample ventilation.
The canopy on this chopped 200 Series features a Norweld Enerdrive Extreme Wiring Package, including a 200Ah lithium battery and 2,000W inverter. The electrical system maintains charge from the alternator, main power, or the solar panel mounted on the Rhino-Rack Pioneer rack over the cabin.
Jaime’s chopped 200 Series rear has a good departure angle with the angled toolboxes. A large drawer where he stores his recovery gear and tools. This drawer has easy access on narrow tracks and a low centre of gravity, making it a suitable spot to keep this gear. Above the drawer is a Norweld 25L Diesel Jerry Can, ladder and spare. To increase the range of the vehicle, Jaime switched the factory fuel tank for a 180L ARB Frontier Tank.
JMACX Alpha shock absorbers handle the increased weight of this 200 series conversion. They are a large diameter remote reservoir shock absorber with in-cab adjustability! In addition, JMACX Lower Control Arms, JMACX Pan Hard Rod, KDSS Extension Links, a Roadsafe Diff Drop Kit and Ironman Pro Forge UCAs correct the negative impacts of the suspension change. Falken AT3W 28565R18 tyres are fitted to Method 305NV HD Wheels.
A GME XRS330 UHF radio, Cel-Fi Go mobile phone signal booster and suitable GME antennas significantly improve communications when travelling in this vehicle.
The front of Jaime’s chopped 200 Series Cruiser has an ARB Summit Deluxe Bar. A pair of ARB Intensity Solis driving lights sit above a Warn VR Evo Winch, with two ARB Recovery Points below.
Clearview Power Boards tuck neatly away when not in use, and Clearview Next Gen Towing Mirrors provide visibility wide of the canopy.
Jaime’s chopped 200 Series has a Torqit performance exhaust, DPU Cooler, pre-fuel filter, FFM Airbox, a DPU Tune and Stocklock Torque Converter. It also has ARB diff breathers.
Jaime’s Chopped 200 Series on the Old Telegraph Track
As we started this trip, Jaime’s Cruiser stood out as an outlier of the fleet, with the rest of the vehicles sporting more ground clearance and significantly smaller turning circles.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering how the big 200 Series would handle the trip, and I wasn’t envious of Joel, who was driving the vehicle for most of the trip. Yet, while some of the tight corners required a three-point turn to navigate, and the trickier sections required more careful line selection, the vehicle surprised us all very quickly.
As I took the wheel to experience the vehicle first-hand, I wasn’t expecting to adjust to driving it so quickly. The power steering, automatic gearbox and ample torque certainly made it easier, but so do the unexpected benefits of the more extended wheelbase. When I was concerned the belly of the vehicle would scrape through many obstacles, it didn’t happen simply due to the unique wheel placement of the +650mm chassis.
Impressively, and to our relief, the chopped 200 Series surfaced from the Old Telegraph Track unscathed.
I spent some time back at the wheel on the wide-open dirt of the Bamaga and Pajinka Roads as we blasted up to see Cape York. On this terrain, the combined comforts of the 200 Series, JMACX Shock Absorbers and long-wheelbase truly shined, and I’m sure Jaime and his family will have an incredible time exploring in this vehicle!