Manual, tractor-like, narrow rear wheel track; the 70 Series LandCruiser range is a vehicle you’ve got to want. It was the vehicle for me (and still is), and before collecting it, my biggest concern was how I would handle the comfort on long days of dirt road driving.
When I purchased my 76 Series LandCruiser, remote reservoir shock absorbers were available but not a common choice. Still, I decided to fit a set of OME BP51s to add comfort and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t regret not buying the comfier 200 Series.
I chose to upgrade the GVM from 3,060kg to 3,660kg pre-registration, and in the rear went with the middle of the load range 600kg constant load leaf suspension option.
I also installed an Airbag Man Helper Kit that I inflate to assist with heavy gear, fuel, water and food loads when travelling remotely or towing our camper trailer.
My wife and I drove from Perth to Alice Springs up the Great Central Road, down the Hay River Track, and back across the French Line in the Simpson Desert for the first trip with this suspension setup.
It was a massive trip, and to our relief, the OME BP51s added the level of comfort to our 76 Series that we hoped they would.
We’ve since travelled extensively in the vehicle – East and West Arnhem Land, Kakadu, Gibb River Road, West Coast, remote Great Australian Bight and more and the comfort off-road has been far better than I’d even hoped.
At 51mm diameter, the OME BP51s are much larger than standard shock absorbers, plus they also have the extra oil capacity within the remote reservoir.
This large oil volume allows the shock absorbers to dissipate heat, and from my experience, they have performed consistently even over a full day of driving rough corrugations.
The race-style of the BP51s, and their compression and rebound adjustability, means they absorb bumps exceptionally well. This extra shock absorption adds to the general comfort, but it is especially beneficial when you don’t spot a pothole or gauge the depth of a washout. Instead of a brutal hit, it is a much softer landing in these situations.
Knock on wood, but when I have previously hit the limits of standard shock absorbers and damaged them, the BP51s have absorbed similar impacts with ease and emerged damage free.
While I’m yet to need to repair or replace a shock absorber, the ease of doing so is always a key consideration for me when choosing gear, especially anything that is trip critical, like suspension.
Old Man Emu is a well-known suspension brand, and their BP51s have become a common choice for the 70 Series LandCruiser, which translates to the wide availability of spare parts and expertise, which is ideal if something is damaged.
Old Man Emu is an ARB company which means BP51s have the support of the global ARB network. So again, this is beneficial if you need a replacement in the remote places many of us love to travel.
Like many that own a 70 Series LandCruiser, I chose the 76 Series for the ruggedness, simplicity and the hope of longevity. But, in most ways, they are an old design and are less comfortable and noisier than modern vehicles.
While for travelling short distances on farms and mines, comfort and noise are less of an issue, but for travel, some sound deadening is essential in the cabin, and remote reservoir shock absorbers like the OME BP51s make a world of difference on the tracks.
There are many reasons to choose a modern vehicle and make it more rugged likewise, selecting a 70 Series or similar and making it more comfortable has its merits.
The factory fitted suspension is usually comfortable but ill-equipped for heavier loads with modern vehicles. Adding more serious suspension setups will address the load issues but often equates to an uncomfortable ride. Bypass shock absorbers on these vehicles offer an incredible ride. I’ve driven several 200 Series LandCruisers with the OME BP51s, and the ride is hard to beat.
On the long list of possible modifications we can do to our vehicles, I’ll always put quality suspension for ride comfort near the top of my list.