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Africa 105 Landcruiser

The restoration of a 20-year old, tired Land Cruiser 105 in Cape Town, South Africa in September 2019. It was sold late 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic restricted us from travelling to South Africa to use it.

BEFORE

1999 model. The 105 began production in 1998, and continued until 2008. It is essentially, a 80-series chassis, with a 100-series body.

Seat are covered by some cheap-looking covers, but I do know that they hide the seats that are quite shabby. I will replace the covers with Takla covers.

4,2 normally-aspirated diesel six-pot with manual pump and as tough as an engine can be. But sluggish and under-powered. Turbo-charging this engine compromises reliability.

It is based on a 1998, Toyota Land Cruiser 105 GX, 1HZ 4,2 naturally-aspirated diesel engine, five-speed manual gearbox and horizontally-split tailgate. This version was sold in South Africa between 1997 and 2006. It has locking front and rear diffs, two fuel tanks of 45L and 90L, and this will be the third 105 I have owned. This is the same model I used in Africa between 2009 and 2012, when I undertook some of my toughest expeditions, including the search for the source of the Okavango – my longest ever trip – in 2010.

The 105 Land Cruiser remains one of my favourite 4WDs! The video series to follow will demonstrate how an older vehicle can be transformed into a fully capable and reliable platform for overland exploration. This is in contrast to many highest-spec, dream machines that have become the norm on 4WD channels, including our own.

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AUG 25 - Sept 15, 2019.

The cruiser is stripped down. And every time something is stripped, it tells a story. The noise when in reverse is broken teeth in the reverse gear. It will be replaced.

The transfer gearbox has been butchered. Someone thought it would be a good idea to make this a part-time 4WD vehicle. But they didn’t understand how this 4WD system works. So its a mess. Full story to come.

Both axle differentials are in good condition.

Front prop-shaft has to be replaced, because of uneven spline wear, as a direct result of the stupid conversion to part-time 4wd. There is a lesson to be learned here.

The engine has had a rebuild and compression is good on all six cylinders. The rebuild was no doubt required because of the Alpine turbocharger that was once fitted. Of all the turbo conversions, the Alpine was the worst one, often damaging an engine inside 30 000 kms of fitting. This was one of those. But as we stand now, we have a good engine.

Windscreen is cracked, and has been removed. Very little corrosion found.

The chassis is in excellent condition. No rust at all.

Good exhaust, but the turbo people welded one of the mounts onto the chassis! Idiots!

Air conditioner had no belt fitted, but we’ve now tested it and it appears to be functional.

The air-con condenser radiator and engine radiator are scrap.

Steering is good, as is the fuel system, as are the seats and window winders.

As we stand now, Friday afternoon, waiting for gearbox and transfer box to come back, and it and the engine will be re-installed. Axles are being re-assembled after being checked and cleaned. I’ll next be there on Monday to film more of the process.

Sit Rep. October 29, 2019

I have been tallying up the costs of this rebuild. And they are higher than expected, because of the previous owners and how they had butchered the transmission and had not looked after it well. Here are the actual costs, in summary form, of what we spent, and what one can expect to spend if one purchased an ‘typical’ 20-year-old Land Cruiser. This was not a typical Land Cruiser, in any sense! It was almost a worst-case scenario. And the difference in the cost of the rebuild is considerable.

This page is a work in progress.  TO BE FINALISED.

Figures are presented as, ‘normal’, to be expected, and ‘abnormal’, and not average, additional work, specific to this vehicle. Figures are presented in Australian $, which is x10 to the South African Rand.

Some parts, outside work, consumables etc., normal. $3667.
Some parts, outside work, consumables etc., abnormal. $2617.

Labour, normal: $6215
Labour, abnormal: $4307

TT parts replaced, normal: $
TT parts, replaced even through they were not essential: $

SUMMARY:

Vehicle cost: $15000
Normal work: $3667
Abnormal work: $3446
Labour normal: $2548
Labour abnormal: $1690
Terrain Tamer Parts. Required for most major rebuilds: $
Terrain Tamer Parts. Not required for major rebuilds, but we fitted them anyway: 

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WHAT I LEARNED

Considering I bought blind, I got lucky. In the following ways:

  • I am that the engine had been rebuilt as seems in good condition.

  • I am lucky that the chassis had no rust.

  • I am lucky that I had Symans 4×4 who donated a considerable amount of their time and labour costs to the project.

  • I am lucky that I had Paul donated his time and expertise to the project.

  • I got the basic car for a good price, which off-set some of the extra expenses. Had I paid full price – oh dear!

Turning an old vehicle into a reliable overlander isn't easy or cheap, especially when, like this one, it has been brutalised by owners and mechanics short on knowledge. The biggest expense by far, was correcting bad decisions made by previous owners. Above all, this is what I learned: When buying used, the fewer mods the better. After market accessories lowers the value of a used 4wd, because unless they are done well, they are often not assets but a liabilities.

It's sad that we never got to run our 105 on a proper expedition. And the only one's who got to really enjoy it was Kate, on a trip with her husband in the Southern Cape in late 2019.

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