Article from WhichCar.
If you’re in the business of building next-level 4x4s for customers, then your demo vehicle better be a head-turner.
Building a 4×4 is fraught with perils. From newcomers not knowing what they’re trying to achieve, or seasoned veterans knowing what outcome they want but not knowing the best way to get there.
People have wasted tens of thousands of dollars building their dream set-up on the wrong vehicle, or replacing gear they’ve already bought when they find it doesn’t quite fit into what the end result became.
Queensland-based Rambler Vehicles has set about making the process easier and more cost-effective with turnkey solutions, and if the demo LC200 is anything to go by, they sure know what they’re doing.
Starting off with a stunning black 2021 GXL LC200, the team at Rambler set about designing a fitting send-off to the 200 Series Cruiser, and showing off what they can do with no restraints in the process.
First cab off the rank, so to speak, was taking the Cruiser to ASG Vehicle Solutions to chop the body in half. A dual-cab conversion offering all the comfort and ride quality of the big wagon, with the camping practicality of the booming dual-cab market.
ASG expertly stitched the cabs sheet metal back together for a factory look, then climbed underneath and did it all over again with the chassis. The end result is a 350mm stretched wheelbase that has ample room for a touring set-up, and feels far more planted in steep terrain and towing.
Before the 200 was registered, Rambler spec’ed up the suspension with a full 4-inch lift second-stage manufacturing set-up from Superior Engineering. The kit is hands down one of the most extensive on the market and painstakingly upgrades multiple components to help increase the 200’s maximum gross vehicle mass.
Up front, the kit uses 4-inch taller coil springs on optional 2.5-inch body Superior Engineering remote reservoir struts. They’re matched with billet upper control arms to dial caster and camber back in after the lift. The front diff has also been lowered 50mm as part of the kit to help flatten the CV joint angles.
Up the back, a matching kit has been fitted with a few extra additions: 4-inch taller Superior coils sit on the live axle, with 2.5-inch remote res shocks reining them in. Superior upper and lower control arms dial the pinion angle back in, with a healthy strength upgrade in the process. A Superior Panhard rod recentres the rear diff, while longer brake lines and a sway bar relocation let the Cruiser make the most of its new travel.
As part of the legality process, the kit also included larger side indicators, wheel-arch flares and a speedo correction module to suit larger tyres. A helper airbag set-up from Polyair was also installed to help with varying load requirements. Rambler’s made the most of the new-found real estate in the guards by fitting a set of 35-inch Toyo Tyres Open Country MTs wrapped around Method Race Wheels 312s.
To ensure the Cruiser would have enough get up and go once the additional weight was added, Rambler loaded into the ECU one of its custom tunes, with fresh air being sucked in through a Safari Armax snorkel, and spent gases pushed out the rear through a full stainless-steel exhaust system from Legendex.
Moving to the back of the now dual-cab Cruiser and there’s an extensive touring set-up in the form of a ‘Midi’ canopy from Spinifex Manufacturing. The 3/4 canopy design aims to provide maximum storage space without having the twin 35-inch spare hanging out the back. Custom built from aluminium and with a 300mm covered rear deck for the tyres, the Midi canopy has an extensive touring set-up packed into a compact package.
On the passenger flank there’s a 130L upright Bushmans fridge and full pull-out pantry. The slide-out section also features a Road Chef oven up top and a 2000W induction cooktop on its own slide. Hiding behind the fridge, there’s a huge 200amp/h lithium power set-up using quality Enerdrive gear. The Simarine unit controls all the functions of the canopy including monitoring water levels in the 70L tank, while a 2000W invertor powers 240V power points spread throughout the canopy. On the driver’s flank, a custom storage system from RV Storage Solutions is built to Rambler specs. Rather than a typical trundle tray, sliding out the back of the canopy is a pull-out sink with running water.
Back out on the outside the Cruiser is sporting a full custom paint job. The ‘Urban Khaki’ colour was lifted straight from the Toyota paint chart and is most known for the USA Tundra. It’s protected up front with a TJM Venturer bar armouring up the front end. Hidden inside is a matching TJM 12,000lb winch wrapped in synthetic rope, while five Lightforce Venom driving lights sit proudly atop the steel bar.
Moving towards the back and Rambler has fitted up matching TJM side-steps, and then extended them to suit the stretch. The bar work is all powder-coated in a rich Manix black. Up top, a Rhino-Rack backbone system houses a modified flat rack with a slimline LED light bar filling the gaps.
Moving inside and it becomes all too obvious the extent Rambler goes to make this build a step above the rest. It’s decked head to toe in what Rambler dubs as its ‘sports’ interior, a full custom retrim in Napa leather with black and artichoke leather matching the exterior paint scheme.
The seats have been heavily rebolstered to give a far more sporty feel to them and extra support when off road. There’s an Alpine 9-inch stereo taking pride of place in the dash and it feeds into a full R Spec speaker set-up with a matching amp. Comms are taken care of with an Icom UHF sitting in an Outback roof console, and the aerial is tucked in tight to the body on a custom Rambler door bracket.
Speaking to the team at Rambler and it’s clear how much passion they have for things working together seamlessly, and the vehicle they’ve built to showcase their work is clear proof of it. Each individual component carefully selected and considered to how it’ll affect the end goal and how well it’ll all work together. With the 200 Series platform wrapping up, it’s a fitting send-off to one of the most popular 4x4s of all time and will be right at home parked up in a 4×4 show, or a remote beach campsite.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘second-stage manufacturer’ by now and if you’re not a walking dictionary you may have scratched your head at first. It’s a relatively recent term that’s popped in to use as more and more manufacturers are finding ways to work-in the system.
Essentially, it’s a legal framework that allows a vehicle to have a second round of manufacturing going into it. Think things like bulk fleets of motorhomes for rental companies based on popular van platforms and you’re on the right track. The 4×4 aftermarket has managed to utilise this system to essentially do the same thing, but instead of turning vans into motorhomes, they’re doing road oriented 4x4s into something far more capable.
The catch is, the work and certification needs to be done before the vehicle is first registered, but if using a kit like Superior Engineering’s SSM suspension kits as far as the government is concerned, your new LC200 was always lifted 4-inch with remote res shocks and an upgraded GVM.