First In The U.S. Maltec Land Cruiser 80/79 Series
1993 Maltec Land Cruiser 80/79 Series Double Cab
If you’ve been to Overland Expo or have been following the Land Cruiser movement, then you have seen the builds by Sackwear’s founder Tim McGrath. His recent vehicles include the ’66 FJ45 Troopy and, most recently, the 1993 Maltec Land Cruiser 80/79 series—the first double-cab Land Cruiser Maltec build to land on U.S. soil.
However, McGrath’s passion for Land Cruisers started many years prior. After spending time in high school working for a local airport and turning wrenches, he picked up his first vehicle, a ’74 FJ40, which he used to plow the backroads of Taos, New Mexico, for extra money. Over the years, he spent time fixing it up, and his passion for Land Cruisers was born.
McGrath has a background in advertising and design. After trying to find a T-shirt with a Landy he liked, he came up empty-handed. That’s when McGrath decided to start Sackwear. Since 2005, Sackwear has quickly grown into a lot more than a Land Cruiser T-shirt company. The e-commerce website now sells many outdoor and off-road items, including patches, bags, and storage solutions.
McGrath says, “For most of us, overlanding isn’t something we can do every day, but it’s something we think about all the time. When I wear a Sackwear shirt, I get a little reminder of what it’s like to be out there with my family and my rig every time I catch a glimpse in the mirror.” McGrath’s designs have gained popularity due to the shared passion of the overland community.
SCHEDULED TO BE BUILT AT MALTEC’S FACILITY IN GERMANY, THE VEHICLE WOULD TAKE BETWEEN 12-14 MONTHS TO COMPLETE.
McGrath’s Majestic Maltec Land Cruiser
McGrath’s Maltec build on the ’93 80/79 series Land Cruiser is unique. He wanted to build a vehicle that he could take his wife and two kids camping in. The vehicle needed to be comfortable and very capable of tackling the destinations McGrath had in mind. McGrath first saw a Maltec vehicle at Overland Expo. He remembers that he “really fell in love with them. Incredibly well built with attention to detail. Some of the nicest builds I have ever seen …Something that I felt passionate about. Something different.” He quickly got in touch with Maltec’s home office in Germany to inquire about the build process.
Maltec Land Cruiser Build
McGrath’s build started with an 80 series chassis that was then built up with a ’93 79 series double-cab body and interior. Scheduled for production in Maltec’s German factory, this build would take over a year to be completed. One of the first modifications McGrath did was ask Maltec to install a 1HD-T 4.2L turbo diesel. This inline six-cylinder with a 12-valve has an upgraded CT26 turbocharger for performance.
To keep the vehicle feeling like its roots, he opted to keep the five-speed manual transmission and upgraded the ring-and-pinion gearing to 4.88 to help accommodate the weight from the soon-to-be-added camper. McGrath also added a heavy-duty clutch upgrade to make sure it could take on the Rocky Mountains’ steep trails—one of McGrath’s favorite overlanding locations.
Before adding the camper, the frame had to be extended. Once completed, Maltec added underbody protection, skid plates, and the carbon-fiber camper shell. The camper is an essential part of the build because McGrath wanted a place to stay warm when camping with his family in the snow.
Suspension and Off-Road Upgrades
The suspension was set up with coils to allow for maximum articulation. McGrath selected Braid Dakar Beadlock 17-inch wheels, paired with Cooper Tires Discoverer STT Pros in 37×12.5 to give him confidence on and off the road during any season. Also, these tires would come in handy when taking on the rocky terrain around Colorado.
The custom Maltec front bumper houses a Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum winch. The winch setup is finished off with a Factor 55 fairlead and Flatlink E with rope guard.
Exterior storage was an easy choice. Starting with the Front Runner Outfitters roof rack over the dual cab, McGrath added a Front Runner Outfitters awning for shade, sand ladders for recovery, and a kayak mount. Two 42L AluBoxes and Halite dry bags were attached to the rack to increase storage.
FOR MOST OF US, OVERLANDING ISN’T SOMETHING WE CAN DO EVERY DAY, BUT IT’S SOMETHING WE THINK ABOUT ALL THE TIME. —TIM MCGRATH, SACKWEAR
Choosing lighting came down to efficiency and maximum lumen output. The final choice was the Baja Designs LP9 Pros up front, along with Baja Designs S1 flush mounts in the bumper for wide-cornering illumination. Two AGM batteries power everything that is charged off the alternator and dual 100Wp SunWare solar panels. A Victron Energy 2,000-watt power inverter inside keeps portable electronics powered up.
The interior shows even more of a custom touch. The double cab features four Recaro Sportster CS seats to keep everyone comfortable and safe on and off the trail. These seats combine a racing shell and sports seat, adding much-desired cushioning for long-distance travel.
McGrath wanted to make sure the Maltec 80/79 series could get his family to places other people couldn’t, allowing them to enjoy truly wild areas. Maltec built-in custom storage cabinets in the camper to help accommodate the family’s personal items. McGrath also felt the need to make sure there was enough storage for food, drinks, and snacks to keep everyone happy. The family installed two Dometic fridges. One was a topload, the other a drawer-style unit.
There is also a Webasto heater to keep the McGraths warm when camping in the winter. There is an impressive 15-gallon water tank with an indoor sink and outdoor shower that offers both hot and cold water. Accompanying the sink is a three-burner stove. The interior of the camper also boasts the ability to sleep four with dual beds.
A special feature, which is also McGrath’s favorite part of the build, is the camper’s pass-through. “It’s nice to be able to crawl into the back, turn on the heat, grab a cold beer, and chill,” McGrath explains. A Simarine PICO on-board information panel controls the entire camper’s systems. The finishing touch to add a bit of style are the Teak floors throughout the camper.
MCGRATH WANTED TO MAKE SURE THE MALTEC 80/79 SERIES COULD GET HIS FAMILY TO PLACES OTHER PEOPLE COULDN’T, ALLOWING THEM TO ENJOY TRULY WILD AREAS.
After the 14-month build process, the McGraths took possession of their vehicle on U.S. soil. Now that the Maltec vehicle is complete, the family plans to use it for six to seven overland trips a year. They just got back from one of the first trips with the vehicle to Colorado, where McGrath says, “We took it up a few trails and camped. Up to 11,000 feet. Found a great spot above the tree line with incredible views. We saw a lot of rain, which was nice to be able to stay inside the camper where we were warm and dry. We loved it.”
Maltec Land Cruiser Magic
This custom-built Maltec 80/79 series Land Cruiser fits not only McGrath’s passion for Land Cruisers but also all his family’s needs. The rig has already started taking them to new and breathtaking places to experience the outdoors hands-on.
You can follow Tim McGrath’s adventures on Instagram @Sackwear.
MALTEC LAND CRUISER UPGRADES
Maltec Land Cruiser Overland Camper
Engine: 1HD-T 4.2L turbo diesel, inline six-cylinder, 12-valve, CT26 turbocharger, heavy-duty clutch upgrade
Suspension: Maltec coils (front and rear), extended frame
Wheels & Tires: Braid Dakar Beadlocks 8×17 (front and rear), Cooper Discoverer SST Pro 37×12.5R17s
Interior Accessories: Recaro Sportster CS
Exterior Accessories: Baja Designs LP9 pro and S1 flush mount wide cornering lights; Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum with Factor 55 fairlead and FlatLink E with rope guard; two 42L AluBoxes; Halite dry bags; Maltec skid plates and front bumper; two Exige AGM house batteries; two 100Wp SunWare solar panels; Victron Energy 2,000-watt power inverter; Front Runner roof rack and awning; Sand ladders that fold down to make a table; roof rails for kayak or paddle boards; Shore power plug-in; Step 22 Sting Ray flat boxes
Camper Accessories (installed by Maltec): two Dometic fridges, Webasto heater, warm water boiler, outside shower with hot and cold water, fresh filtered 15-gallon water tank, sink with hot and cold water, three-burner stove, LED camper lighting with charge ports, beds to sleep four, pass-through cab, Teak floors, Simarine PICO on-board information panel, touch-screen