maul-crawler Lexus Off-Road GX 470
Chasing the Perfect Memory in an Off-Road Lexus GX470
Most off-road builds are fueled by the fire of hitting trails to rock crawl or heading to the desert to rip whoops and jumps—but not this one. This off-road Lexus GX470 beast does both and looks doing it.
Brian McGee built this import off-road monster to the most remote places in order to fuel his passion for photography. He built this rig to transport himself to the highest peaks and the farthest valleys to take night photos of the cosmos.
Brian’s love of photography and his artistic eye together push the aesthetics of this rig. This is evident in his choice of modifications. The rig has a style that pushes the boundary of the GX community in both looks and performance.
However, this build got away from him and turned into the beast you see before you.
Brian has been into trucks since he could reach the pedals when driving his dad’s 1976 Chevrolet Cheyenne 4×4. That truck started him down his current path. These are the types of memories that sculpt our future, and for Brian, it sparked his automotive dreams.
At first glance, Brian’s off-road GX470 might look like a mall-crawler. However, it’s anything but.
After years of hard work, he was able to combine his passion for photography with his passion for trucks. Now, Brian is a professional automotive photographer who shoots anything from hot rods to domestics to imports, both on and off the dirt, all while using his rig to get him to all those remote locations (or sometimes just to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life). As far as memories go, Brian still hasn’t found his favorite memory with his off-road Lexus GX470, so he’ll continue to trek across the landscape and chase that special moment. We just hope he documents it for the rest of us to see.
maul-crawler: Pushing All the Boundaries
At first glance, Brian’s off-road Lexus GX470 might look like a mall-crawler. However, it’s anything but.
Brian started this build with the idea of being different and, at that time, the Lexus platform definitely stood out in an ocean of Jeeps and Tacomas. While building out a Lexus isn’t very uncommon anymore (because they’ve become a familiar rig on the trail), Brian took things a step further to make his one-of-a-kind vehicle.
Inspired by the off-road rigs of the Hawaiian Islands, Brian built his off-road rig to have a super-tall and extra-wide stance. When his rig passes by, you know exactly who it is. This “off-road rig in mall-crawler clothing” works the trails as Brian pushes it through its paces. So, while he likes his wheels blinging and his accents bright, he also pushes this rig to its limits. In his words: “It hasn’t been clean since 2018.” We respect that.
All the Goodies on this Off-Road Lexus GX 470
This off-road Lexus GX470 is built out with all the goodies. Protection from the elements is provided by Pelfrey in the form of a super-stout steel front bumper with a Smittybilt XRC Gen3 9.5k-pound winch and a set of Pelfrey rock sliders. The 6-inch Rough Country lift meant for an FJ Cruiser tackles terrain, but it was modified for the GX 470, along with an Eimkeith PCK kit and Dobinson 750-pound rear springs. Holding it all up is a set of King 2.5 shocks with external reservoirs and a set of modded Total Chaos upper control arms that allow Brian to hit those desert whoops with some real speed.
This rig also lights it up when the sun goes down via a fog light setup from Baja Designs that includes a set of amber S2s, a set of white S2s and a set of Rigid ditch lights for the A-pillars.
Other awesome mods that set Brian’s off-road Lexus GX470 apart are its full-length roof rack and dual Rotopax mounts from JW Offroad, custom blacked-out headlights with LEDs, a Pedal Commander PC38, muffler delete and a safari-style snorkel … just in case he needs to practice some evasive maneuvers in some super-deep waters.
Brian’s love of photography and his artistic eye together push the aesthetics of this rig. This is evident in his choice of modifications. The rig has a style that pushes the boundary of the GX community in both looks and performance. Very few push their GXs as hard as Brian does, and even fewer modify theirs the way he has. Aggressive in driving style and visual style, this GX470 really pushes all the boundaries of what we are used to with the Lexus platform.
Every Sharp Truck Needs Good Shoes
Brian has yet another passion: shoes. His collection is vast and very eclectic. As a self-proclaimed “sneaker-head,” he’s found a parallel with modding his off-road Lexus GX470.
Yes, you guessed it: Brian makes sure that each set of wheels in his collection makes a statement—a vibe, if you will—and his mean-looking grocery-getter gets better with each new set. Currently, a custom set of 17×9 with -38 offset KMC wheels wrapped in 35×12.5 Nitto Trail Grapplers gives Brian’s “soccer mom” car a super-aggressive look.
At the end of the day, as much as Brian’s Lexus GX470 is an overland machine that catches the eye, it was purpose built to be a hybrid, with form meeting function.
His current set of KMC wheels with highlighter-yellow beadlock rings really sets off the truck. Even so, take your pick—because Brian has added “big-boy” chrome wheels and even a set of candy-red Fuel Offroad beadlock wheels. They share one thing in common. They’re wrapped in super-aggressive, oversized tires meant that grip and rip off-road. They make this GX look like a real-life Hot Wheels creation.
Form Meets Function with This Off-Road Lexus GX470
Brian’s GX470 is an overland machine that catches the eye. It was purpose-built to be a hybrid, with form meeting function. It’s a rig that looks good for photos. More importantly, it takes Brian to the ends of the Earth. He can rock crawl, hit super-secluded fishing holes and be off-grid for days to can capture amazing images (you can see more of Brian’s photography on his personal Instagram: @itsjustbrian).
Brian McGee built this import off-road monster to get to the most remote places to fuel his passion for photography. He built this rig to transport himself to the highest peaks and the farthest valleys to take night photos of the cosmos.
Brian’s artistic style and thirst for adventure will continue to feed his passion for off-road photography. We can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us with his beast-mode, soccer-mom rig.
Off-Road Lexus GX 470
Platform: 2006 Lexus GX470
Engine: 2UZ-FE V8 4.7L with AFE Intake; Quantum solenoid
Suspension: King 2.5 coilovers with adjustable reservoir modded for 6-inch lift (front and rear); Total Chaos UCAs (front); Rough Country FJ 6-inch lift; Eimkeith PCK kit; Dobinson 750-lb. rear springs
Wheels & Tires: KMC Wheels Hex Beadlock 17×9 -38 offset with 3.5-inch backspacing; 35×12.5r17 Nitto Tires Trail Grappler
Exterior Accessories: TEQ badge; Prado LC120 taillights; Baja Designs S2 amber fog lights; Baja Designs Amber and White Squadron; Smittybilt XRC Gen3 9.5K comp; Rotopax 3-gallon tanks; Pelfrey front bumper and rock sliders; snorkel; Rigid lighting ditch lights; Rago Fab ditch brackets; Fog Light mod; JW Offroad full-length roof rack and Rotopax mount; Blacked housing headlights with LED; Pedal Commander PC38; muffler delete; CVT rooftop tent
(Editor’s Note: A version of this story appeared in Tread July/August 2021.)