Long term off-road adventures in Outback Australia are the stuff dreams are made of. Expedition vehicles, like kitted out 79 Series Landcruisers, are the steeds which can take us there.
To make the dream happen, you really need an 4×4 expedition vehicle ready for rough, challenging, exciting yet strenuous Australian travel. For this, a heavy duty off road vehicle is almost a necessity, and an upgraded single cab 79 Series Landcruiser is just about as heavy duty as it gets, and a common choice people ready to take on the challenge.
Throw a Trayon slide on camper on the back and you have the beginnings of a full swing 4×4 expedition vehicle worthy of Australia’s roughest tracks (think the Canning Stock Route, Gibb River Road, or the Cape York Telegraph Track! Or even a global expedition!)
The cruiser is known in Australia as King of the Bush, the Killer of Outback roads. In fact, the 70 Series Landcruiser is so synonymous with Outback Australia, that remote regions are often called ‘Landcruiser Country’. Mike Breen, manager of PR at Toyota Australia says: “Over the 60 years in Australia, Landcruiser has become an integral part of rural community life. Landcruiser has helped rural communities take on life in the demanding outback with confidence.” It is a legend and has been a staple for Aussies for 6 decades!
However, one of the main problems people run into with a single cab 79 Series Landcruiser is their limited in-cab storage space, as in, they don’t really have any! There is no super cab or extra cab options. The single cab basically holds two seats, a dash, steering wheel, all the safety features we have come expect and a whole lot of nothing else. Despite today’s plethora of in-cab storage upgrades available, like floor consoles (with cup holders!!!!), yet storage space is very limited.
Often, a shortage of storage space is a huge cause for concern in the when on an expedition in the Outback, where gear can seriously save lives when you are thousands of km’s from civilisation.
This was key the motivator for Trayon’s new custom ‘Gullwing Cruiser’ turn-key expedition vehicle design. An expedition vehicle based on the tried and true 79 Series Landcruiser, with a customised tray that provides heaps of extra, compartmentalised, lockable, dustproof storage space, capitalising on a design employed to maximise the off-road abilities of Outback travel with a Trayon camper.
The extra space is provided by a storage box sitting behind the cab directly on the chassis, with swing up seagull wing-like doors that give the expedition vehicle its name. The entire vehicle, tray, box, and slide on camper rig is custom-designed to seamlessly create one off road unit.
In this article, we discuss Trayon’s Gullwing Cruiser for your expedition, including how it is built, what it includes, and why it is a great option for long term overland travel (often called Touring in Australia).
A Gullwing Cruiser is simply a uniquely customised 79 Series Landcruiser, perfectly designed for convenient, safe and capable outback or global travel, made right here on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Trayon – who have been building an industry-leading off-road slide on campers for over 25 years (to check out the last 25 years of Trayon history, go to our recent article called “25 Years of Trayon”) puts these awesome rigs together on behalf of their customers.
The storage box creates extra space similar to an extra cab ute, only the extra space is outside of the cab, not on the inside. The external storage can be designed to hold slide-out fridges, draws, spare tyres and storage shelving. It also provides extra ‘on roof’ storage space, while leaving sufficient space behind for a Trayon slide on camper.
Sounds simple and easy right? Well, its not. It needs to be precise, strong, and lightweight, encompassing all of the key principles of Trayon engineering.
A more detailed process can be found in our article about our ‘turn-key’ expedition development service called “Trayon Campers – Turn Key Solution – A Case Study”. The turn-key service can be applied to any type of ute (it must be new, not used), but the Gullwing Landcruiser is a more unique service usually provided for Landcruisers only. We offer the Gullwing option to both new and used Landcruisers.
Trayon has been involved in putting Gullwing Cruisers together since about 2006, when they were still made down in Victoria. Today’s Gullwing are another, better, more refined breed. They are the pinnacle of many years of design and testing, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.
The next Gullwing Cruiser design we’re hungry to test is an expedition vehicle with portal axles. This will lift the vehicle right up, on bigger tyres, and will give it some real presence. Ground clearance would be huge, making for an all-round fantastic expedition vehicle. We just need a customer willing to trust us to put it together for them!
It’s basically about off-road capability and the amount of space and convenience you have to do the kind of travel you desire. This is a tricky design challenge for expedition vehicles, it’s a compromise between weight, having everything you need and manoeuvrability. For example, something nimble that can carry all your gear for long stints in the middle of nowhere, yet still nimble enough to allow you to duck into metropolitan carparks to collect supplies and catch up with family.
Many expedition vehicles based on a light truck platform are limiting in these areas because they are often very wide and tall. So let’s take a look into why the Gullwing Landcruiser is a good match for those looking for a multi-purpose expedition vehicle that they can use all year round without compromising on space, comfort, power and off-road capability:
We use the skinniest gullwing style box we can make while keeping it light, useable and extremely strong. The box replaces the standard tray headboard which comes with a stock single cab 79 Series Landcruiser. This means we immediately gain about 100mm of space behind the cab. This headboard space is extremely valuable tray real estate.
We go to extreme lengths to maximise space. Because every cubic centimetre counts!
For example, we use 35mm fully dustproof gullwing door seals instead of the industry-standard 40mm. This allows us to keep the storage box as skinny as it needs to be so that the Trayon slide on camper can be loaded up nice and close to the cab, which has huge benefits for off-road stability and safety in the way of proper load distribution.
The gullwing box also sits directly on the chassis, not the tray. This means you gain a heap of extra low down space, which makes it easier to store heavy things and get them in and out, or slide out a fridge.
The gullwing box design, which hugs the cab, means we can still utilise 70% of the weight of the slide on camper above or in front of the rear axle, so the vehicle’s suspension can operate at maximum efficiency and capacity. The further back the slide on camper has to sit, the more pressure over the rear axle, lifts off the front axle.
Because the storage box sits directly on the chassis, heavy gear can be stored in the box and the vehicle will retain a nice low centre of gravity.
Due to the Gullwing expedition vehicle design, the Landcruiser can operate with high loads at maximum off road capability. Add some vehicle upgrades (which are discussed shortly), and you can turn it into a real long lasting off road weapon.
At the most basic level, a Gullwing Cruiser setup adds the following to a stock 79 Series Landcruiser:
The Gullwing tradition is that at least one gullwing door comes with a set of steps to help you access the rooftop storage, or things stored at the top of the storage box. It means you don’t need to cart a step ladder around Australia with you!
The extra add ons you can ask for include:
The door sensor ensures that you won’t drive off with a door slightly open, risking it getting knocked off. The sensor is connected to a buzzer inside the cab, which will go off while the ignition is on if a door is left ajar or completely open.
LED lights can be fitted inside the doors to help you see what you’re doing at night.
Two spare wheel options are provided.
The first option is a spare tyre holder which can be fitted inside the main box (see picture at begining of this article), on the drivers side above the slide out draw (if that has been asked for).
The second option is a split rim tyre which can be fitted underneath the tray. The split rim tyre has the same rolling diameter and stud pattern as a normal Landcruiser tyre, but it is skinnier so that it fits nicely under the tray without raising the height of tray. This is a good option for a permanent spare, with extra spares available for longer expeditions.
There is even space for a third spare on the roof if needed.
The morale of the story is that you have many options to suit whatever type of travel you are planning.
The best spot for a pull out drawer is usually on the driver side. Because the box sits on the vehicle chassis, the drawer is nice and low, meaning heavy things can be stored there while keeping the vehicles centre of gravity low, so that the vehicles off road capabilities are not compromised.
This includes the option for a tool box attached under the tray behind each rear wheel. A very handy spot for bits and bobs.
This is a good option if you intend on using the tray for other purposes while you’re not in expedition vehicle mode.
The best spot for a fridge freezer is usually the passenger side of the behind cab storage box. Again, because the box sits on the chassis rails, the fridge can slide out nice and slow making it easy to access.
The ideal fridge size is 40L. The Gullwing design does not cater for any larger, because this would require a wider storage box, which would then push the slide on camper further back, reducing off road stability and placing more pressure on suspension and running gear. And since the entire rig is about maximising off road capability, we don’t cater for any larger fridges in the storage box than that – remember the Trayon Camper has a 100L fridge/freezer in it.
You have two water tank options.
If you have not opted for the undertray split rim spare tyre, we can insert an 80 L water tank with a pump (The pump switch is placed inside the Gullwing storage box with the other electrics).
If you do opt for the split rim undertray spare tyre, we can add a 60 L tank instead (still with a water pump).
If you don’t want to go with the aluminium finish, we can match the colour of the box and even the tray with the colour of the vehicle.
In addition to the customisable Gullwing storage box and tray, we can also arrange Landcruiser upgrades and accessories.
This includes things like a bullbar, snorkel, axle widening, suspension upgrades, winches, secondary batteries (lithium if desired), auxiliary tanks and fuel filters, roof racks and the rest.
We highly recommend getting a suspension and gross vehicle mass (GVM) upgrade. Most customers choose full 4.1 Tonne GVM upgrade, which gives you an extra 900kg payload above what a stock Landcruiser can legally carry! For more information on what kind of suspension upgrades are recommended for off road Trayon travel, check out our recent article called “Slide on Campers: Do I need a 4WD Suspension Upgrade?”.
Axle widening is also a very handy modification to ensure both the front and rear wheel tracks align. We recommend JMax for this, but it’s really up to you.
At the bare minimum, we recommend an ARB rear sway bar. This is the best upgrade there is for a 79 Series Landcruiser. It stabilises the load and provides better stability in off road conditions. ARB is, without doubt, the best rear sway bar provider.
The Gullwing tray upgrade clocks in at between $10,000 and $20,000 depending on what extras you desire. On average, the tray and box hover around $15,000. You need to allow $350 for tray removal as well if you already have the cruiser and want to turn it into a Trayon Gullwing Cruiser.
The Gullwing is not the cheapest option, but it’s just about the best you can get, turning a single-cab Cruiser into a full expedition vehicle ready for long term Australian adventures.
It may seem like a stretch, but when it comes to achieving your dreams, why spare any expense, particularly when it could be the difference between success and failure, or comfort and discomfort.
There is no day like today to kick start the Australian touring dream. Build an expedition vehicle you are proud to drive.
If a 79 Series Landcruiser expedition vehicle is something you’re interested in, contact us to start designing your custom Trayon Gullwing Cruiser.
And please, please, give us an excuse to test out the next step in Gullwing Cruiser development: portal axles, big tyres and bucket-loads of clearance and one mean looking rig!