GoTroopy - A Dubai Troopy Build

Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
55
Location
Dubai, UAE
So here we have it. A completely stock 2018MY (registered 6th March 2019) 1VD Toyota Land Cruiser 78 Series. The vehicle is 'Rest of the World' spec, Euro3 engine and pretty much as basic as they come.

  • No electric windows
  • No central locking
  • No DPF
  • Manual aerial
  • AM stereo with one speaker, not even a cassette
  • Vinyl floor coverings
  • 9 Seats
  • Has amazing AC
... and it's perfect!

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This thing has been in the planning for a few years now. Registering diesels in the UAE is often difficult, with the fuel type specifically associated with commercial vehicles, which Expats haven't been allowed to register, unless they have business licenses. Luckily for me, a few other people I know have registered them over the past year, making my route to owning one a little easier.

Some background.

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It all kind of started almost three years ago to the day. We had some epic storms which resulted in my Golf getting flooded out. The water was up to the bottom of the windscreen and there was no chance it was ever to recover.

Roll on a couple of months and my Dad was planning his Dubai exit strategy. With a 2010 Prado he was looking to offload, and a fist full of insurance cash from the Golf, a deal was struck. I'd been driving the Prado since I moved out here in 2011, so knew it well, and had explored quite a bit of the UAE in it, so it made sense to keep it in the family.

The Prado has served us well since new. I got rear ended it in back in 2012 (not long after I arrived in Dubai) and the dealer decided to change the chassis (I still don't know why the old man dandy push back for a replacement/write-off), so the car is essentially worthless to sell, but been ultra reliable. During 2017, the touring upgrades started, with some KO2's, then a drawer system in the back, and eventually a roof rack and ARB Simpson III tent.

Introducing the wife to the tent (she hated the idea of ground camping, as she worried about scorpions) was a revelation. I've probably spent over 50 nights in it since summer 2017, and she's spent probably 30, happy to go away for single nights, or multi-night trips to the Oman mountains. This then got the discussions and ideas going for something a little more built for purpose as the cover over the RTT was becoming more frustrating, and the 2.4m vehicle height of the Prado and tent was difficult with all car parks in the UAE being underground/covered.

So, this lead to the Troopy, with the Hercules conversion. There is a local company here who've ripped off the Hercules design, but unfortunately (or more likely fortunately) they've proven unreliable with manufacture. I'm of the opinion, if it's difficult to give someone money to buy something, what are they going to be like when they have the money.

Over the coming year(s), the vehicle will be slowly built to take on tours of the UAE and Oman, plus hopefully Saudi one day if Visa requirements relax a little more to allow self-drive without a guild, then eventually taken back to the UK.

First things first, to address some of the creature comforts. It's currently having dealer fit central locking and electric windows fitted. As this will eventually become my daily, as I will have to sell my Prado J150 to fund part of the build, I'd like some things to make life with it easier.

Over the past year I've been collecting some bits and pieces to kick start the build. I'v already fitted some standard 16x7 Toyota alloys with 285/75R16 KM3s, and will kick off the build properly with installation of a PDP secondary diesel filter, diff breathers and cruise control, plus factory rear locker then ARB BP-51 suspension, house power system based around the CTEK 140 Off-Road kit, and fitting of the Hercules should all happen at once.

Final piece of the puzzle, which selling the Prado will have to fund, will be the interior fit out. Luckily, this gives me enough time to use the vehicle and better understand what I want built, and how it should be build, keeping weight as a high priority.

Anyway, I'll share some more photos soon once it's back from the accessories shop.

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Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
427
Location
Milano - Italy
super nice car .
especially with the 8 cil. diesel motor .
good choice :
rims , diff rear locker , cruise control.second diesel filter , diff breather .

iffy choice :
electric windows , they will jam in 4-5 years , and making them work properly is a pitta , and €€€

what is Hercules fitting ??


bye Renago
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
55
Location
Dubai, UAE
super nice car .
especially with the 8 cil. diesel motor .
good choice :
rims , diff rear locker , cruise control.second diesel filter , diff breather .

iffy choice :
electric windows , they will jam in 4-5 years , and making them work properly is a pitta , and €€€

what is Hercules fitting ??


bye Renago
I’ve not had a problem with the electric windows in my Prado over the past 9 years and 230k km here in the desert, so hoping the LC78 will be equally as reliable. I have the winders still, should I decide to go back.

The Hercules is the Alucab pop top roof from South Africa.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
427
Location
Milano - Italy
pls consider that Prado and 78 are same brand , but 2 very different cars .
78 , is down to the bare minimum , but over engineered and fully tested in the most severe condition since 30-40 years .
but some features or details are sub standard , such as seats ,suspensions are crap , but never fail .
window rails are iffy , if you blow them and keep them clean , they might last .
you will be a happy owner , especially in your area-

bye Renago
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
55
Location
Dubai, UAE
1,000KM under it's belt in little over a week and it's been so much fun to drive. Yes, it's not particularly fast (especially while running it in), and yes, it's noisy, but there's just something that makes all of it's faults (compared to much more modern cars) forgivable.

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Modifications so far have been purely aesthetic. Some standard Toyota alloys to replace the steelies, and some 285/75R16 KM3s for a bit more traction up in the mountains and down in the wadi's. Road noise is no different to the standard pizza cutters.

Capped off with some arch extensions to cover the additional width the new tyres provide.

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Finally got some time in the workshop booked to install the on-board compressor, upgraded stereo (bored of AM static now), OEM rear diff lock (front will come later, when budget allows), about 30kg of sound deadening ready for the interior fit out, plus remove the rattling rear seats. Then I'll focus on the vehicles house power needs and build.

The Hercules roof has been paid for finally, and production should start imminently. Delivery scheduled around end of April, ready for May installation and a jaunt down to Salalah, Oman, for the Khareef.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
55
Location
Dubai, UAE
Sub'd.
BTW, Saudi has started to issue visitor visas.
The caveat to this rule is that you have to be part of a guided tour and they organise your entry, hotels etc. It doesn't work for someone driving across the border in their own vehicle, who makes to make their own way around - same as Iran for UK passport holders.
 
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