Unleashing The Black Truck! Patriot Campers’ Land Cruiser SuperTourer

Bigger usually means better when you’re dealing with the Patriot Campers crew.

I’m in the middle of the desert in Nevada and heat waves are radiating off the dry lakebed. A black dot appears on the horizon trailed by a cloud of dust. The dot gets bigger, and things come into focus. Hurdling towards me is unobtainium on U.S. soil, a 4.5L V8 turbo diesel, manual transmission, 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser double-cab 79 Series pickup. This one is all black, has all the mods, and is pulling a small off-road camper trailer. It’s the weekend after the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas, and it’s five years after ‘The Black Truck’ opened the show. For 2022 the Patriot Campers 79 Series SuperTourer was back at the big show, and prominently displayed in the Toyota booth, alongside two other Patriot Camper builds, the FJ49 and MEGA6x6.

There is little that will stop the Black Truck off road, besides maybe a super off-camber obstacle.

Origin Story

The Black Truck was dreamt up by Justin Montesalvo, director of Patriot Campers in Australia, back in 2016, and has become one of Australia’s most famous 4x4s. Justin’s vision was “a rig that was both aggressively good looking and fully capable on overlanding journeys.”

The Black Truck was dreamt up by Justin Montesalvo, director of Patriot Campers in Australia, back in 2016, and has become one of Australia’s most famous 4x4s.

There is no more quintessential overland vehicle than a 70 Series Land Cruiser, especially in Australia. A 79 Series Land Cruiser pickup was the perfect basis to build The Black Truck upon and launch PCOR (Patriot Campers Off-Road), a 4WD and overland accessory brand that is now well-known for its tray beds and canopies around the globe.

While black on black on black, this truck isn’t exactly stealth.

Pretty much everything on the truck has been modified from stock, but the Patriot Campers team got it so right the first time around that very little has been changed over the years. Wheels, tires, suspension, engine tuning, RTT, and the infotainment system have been updated, but overall, the truck has stayed true to its original build.

Justin says that this is still his favorite build, of the many custom ones he and his team have done over the years. It will forever stay in the family. Even though he actually gave the truck to his twin boys on their seventeenth birthday, it’s still one of his favorites to drive.

Justin says that this is still his favorite build, of the many custom ones he and his team have done over the years. It will forever stay in the family.

Two full size spare tires are mounted in the rear.
Maxtrax Xtreme traction boards, solar, and area lighting fill the roof rack.

Truck Mods

Because the modifications are so extensive, let’s first take a look at the big upgrades to the 79 Series Land Cruiser. The first, and biggest mod, was removing the truck bed, extending the frame 11.8-inches, and adding a PCOR Tray Body. A 3-inch suspension lift and rear coil conversion are probably the next most important mods.

Justin’s favorite mods are the extensive GSL engine upgrades that he says make the truck “pull like a freight train.” Second to the big turbo diesel power are the Recaro seats, for their long touring comfort.

For SEMA Show 2022 the entire truck was refreshed. Surface rust was removed from the undercarriage, bumpers and bars got a fresh powdercoat, and the truck cab got a new vinyl wrap. The truck also went back to 37-inch tires, as it will be in the U.S. for a year and not on Australian roads where 35s are the max allowable size.

The 35-inch tires are the right tools for the job on this truck, but not allowed in Australia.
Even the exhuast on this truck is custom.

Extra Upgrades

Only a handful of other mods/upgrades complete this truck’s refresh. New collapsing and folding trailering mirrors from MSA help keep rearward visibility while also being much more sturdy and foldable to avoid trail damage when the trees and rocks get tight. Inside the cab, a new infotainment system integrates the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and provides a backup camera system that is super handy on the trail and when trailering. Out back a new X-Bar rear trailer hitch system offers a built-in skid plate and recovery points and a better departure angle. Scrub bars at the back corners of the truck protect the undertray storage boxes from damage when the trail gets rocky.

Overland Mods

This LC79 is designed for extended travels off-the-grid and has a full complement of systems to support that endeavor. Think ample water, a full kitchen, a large fridge, a rooftop tent, large awning, and more.

This LC79 is designed for extended travels off-the-grid and has a full complement of systems to support that endeavor.

When it comes to electronics, The Black Truck features the latest from Redarc. The PCOR half canopy contains a full electronics suite, including a Redarc 1000W inverter and a Manager30 control unit. Inside the truck cab a second Manager30 keeps control over all electronic accessories and complete visibility of the power input and draws close at hand. Since this truck sees lots of towing duties as well, it also needs a Redarc Tow-ProTM Elite, for smooth and confident trailer braking for all terrains and conditions.

For the 2022 refresh, they added a rear ladder on to the PCOR Canopy to make accessing the RTT that much easier. The RTT also got an upgrade, to a Camp King Industries Australian hard shell unit. They also added a Camp King 270 awning, which provides loads of shelter from the elements. Also, in the PCOR half canopy is a drop slide that securely mounts a Dometic CFX3 55L fridge/freezer. It conveniently slides/drops out at the optimal height for easy access.

On most adventures this LC79 also tows a Patriot Campers X3 camper trailer. This trailer hauls much of the camping gear and supplies that make super extended travels with a large group of people extremely easy and comfortable.

LC79 SuperTourer Adventures

This truly impressive overland 4×4 has already done extensive travels in Australia and the U.S. On this continent it has mostly done tracks in the southwest, while in Australia it has traveled far and wide. Down under it has done major trips to Cape York, the Flinders Range, the Simpson Desert, and Finke.

The Black Truck is currently traveling around the U.S. with Toyota USA on the trade show circuit. It’s also starring in some off-road filming trips for Patriot Games TV between events. While the crew won’t let us spill the beans on the videos they have coming out, they said to “expect it (The Black Truck) to pop up in some iconic U.S. locations.” While vague, they seem to be checking off the big well-known 4×4 destinations on this continent, so it isn’t too hard to figure out where they’ll likely be next.

Even standing still, the Black Truck looks aggressive and ready for action.

Build Strengths & Weaknesses

With extensive travels across continents, the Patriot Games team has figured out what works and what doesn’t on this truck. The biggest strength they’ve found is the one you’d expect from a Land Cruiser, its rugged reliability. Its wide OEM and aftermarket support in Australia comes in a close second.

Here are a set of Toyota keys that enthusiasts around the world would love to get a hold of.

With all the crazy trips this truck has been on, it has seen no catastrophic failures that have prevented it from driving home under its own power. The only real failures it’s had are a front differential, a loosened steering rack mount, and roof rack damage from some low hanging trees.

The one real weakness of this LC79 build is how tall and narrow it is, which can be tricky in tight off-camber situations. The only thing the Patriot Campers team said they’d try to address if they were to build another LC79 would be to lower the center of gravity and improve articulation. Otherwise, it has proven to be a solid and comfortable travel companion that is also a great tow vehicle.


UPGRADES

2016 LC79 SuperTourer

Platform: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser double-cab 79 Series pickup

Engine: 4.5L V8 turbo diesel

Powertrain/Driveline: manual transmission, GSL Stage 2 Kit, Upgraded turbo, Front mount intercooler, Plus 70 injectors, ECU remap, Twin-GSL 4” stainless exhaust

Wheels & Tires: 17×9 PCOR Signature 261 Alloy Wheels, 37/12.5 R17 Goodyear Wrangler

Suspension: Ironman Foam Cell Pro 3” Lift, JMACX Rear Coil Conversion

Exterior: Safari Snorkel, Outback Front Bumper w/Sidebar Kit & Sidestep, 1,200-lb. Front and & Rear Winches, MSA Extendable Mirrors, Undertray Water Tank w/ Electric Pump, Camp Kings RTT & Awning, Dog Crate Half Canopy, Half Canopy, Fridge Slide w/ Dometic CFX3 55L Fridge, Pioneer Platform Roof Rack, Redarc Solar Panel, Hayman Reece X-Bar, Saber Offroad

Winch Thimbles, Dual Rear Spare Mounts, Full X-Ray Vision Lighting Package, GME 6db Antenna

Interior: Recaro Seats, Overhead T-shaped Storage & Center Console, Twin Compressor Kit, Redarc Manager 30, onX Mobile Navigation System w/ EC Offroad Touchscreen Display, GME TX 3550S Heavy Duty Communications System, Redarc Tow-Pro Elite Electronic Brake Controller


Editor’s Note: A version of this story previously appeared in YOTA 2023.

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