If you’re even mildly interested in over-landing or having some sort of 4WD camper then chances are you’ve come across Alu-Cab.
The Cape Town based expedition company fabricate and manufacture some of the best roof top tents, awnings and racks around. But what they are most renowned for is their pop top kits. The Icarus for Landys and the Hercules for Troopys. The Recreational Society featured Chris Polglase aka The Defenderer HERE. He has the Icarus fitted. Defenders do have an advantage over Troopys in this regard, the roof bolts off. Troopys need a little more commitment, you have to cut the roof off to fit the new lid. It’s a pretty tall order to slice the top off an 80K wagon.
Up until this year you could buy Alu-cab products in NZ. But no one was joining the dots. You could buy the pop top unit but then it was on you to find the installer and get the modification certified. Until 2022 potential installers simply snubbed the work.
Enter Greg and Jane, two keen as Recreationalists who saw Chris’s feature on this site. They were figuring out how to build their perfect 4WD drive camper at the time. They went down the Alu Cab rabbit hole that so many of us have done. They pushed through.
Greg and Jane went straight to the top, bought a new 2021 Toyota 78 Series, the Hercules Alu-Cab and sourced both the cutter and the certifier. And now, under their brand Wild Roaming they are offering Alu Cab products in New Zealand. They are also offering full guidance through the fitting process. Which brings them very much in line with how Alu Cab runs in South Africa and Australia.
Yes Recreationalists you can now pop that top!
Greg; We’re based in Raumati on the Kapiti Coast, we moved from the Uk in January 2011 with the kids in tow – they’re now grown up and living in Welly, and we’re heading towards the big 6-0 at high speed, so thought it’s about time that we got around to exploring NZ properly. Done a couple of round the country campervan trips in 1996 and 2009, but have always owned a 4×4 (Daihatsu Rocky, Disco x 2, and currently with a New style Jimny and Troopy, Daisy and Denzel!)
Initially we started Wild Roaming as we were frustrated in our Alucab quest and felt someone needed to take the bull by the horns and offer assistance and guidance around roof conversions etc, as we had to find it all out for ourselves – just felt that Alucab have a great range of products, but there was a lack of resource available. We are now finding out that many people have had a similar experience and been put off from making the commitment, unsure whether they could get it fitted and certified – that’s where we can offer value, having been through that experience first hand. Would be great to see other Alucab kit around NZ, and I think the Canopy Camper (to go on the back of a double cab ute) is where the largest market is, because you can move the camper to a new vehicle if need be.
Initially started as a hobby, but we’re beginning to realise that there are plenty of people out there who are interested in the products, and we’ve really enjoyed the discussions with existing Alucab users and new clients and we’ll take the business wherever it needs to go. Certainly planning on being at plenty of shows over the coming months to showcase the products – we have a Canopy Camper on order as a show rig, as well as lots of accessories to show off to potential clients. The level of support from people with roof conversions and Chris Polglase in particular has been nothing short of amazing, and we feel very privileged to be in this position.
Like a lot of people, in 2020 we get fed up with watching TV and Netflix and started watching YouTube! What a turning point that proved to be – a whole new world opened up (I did a lot of hiking in my earlier years but the knees don’t cope with that these days, so needed to find other ways of getting to remote places). We couldn’t believe what we found around camping options, and the Alucab roof conversions were just perfect for us. Initially we were looking at Defender, having had a couple of Discoverys in the past and we’re a fan of Land Rover (the older kit). However, when we started looking at vehicles, it was just when prices started jumping up and in the space of 6 weeks, there was a $10k jump in prices for some high mileage stock with lots of potential issues to fix (and I am no mechanic!). We’d watched 4xoverland and started thinking whether a Troopy might be worth looking at (up to that point we didn’t even know they existed).
Trademe favourites got updated and we soon realised that they are not common in NZ. We drove a couple including a mint 1999 one in dark blue with 100k on the clock – it eventually went for over $40k, and a crappy 2011 one with rust all over it, which sold in a day for $50+. Mmm, this isn’t going well, so long story short we took the plunge on a new one (April21), only to be told that there was no guarantee it would get delivered. March 2022 was given as a likely delivery date if it got made, so we left it at that and carried on. Roll on August and suddenly it was scheduled for manufacture, made in September and on the dock in Welly in Oct – we were driving into town and saw the ship in dock and jokingly said that one day we’ll see our Troopy on the dockside. 5 minutes later OMG, there’s a sandy Troopy on the dock – straight onto Toyota, who weren’t sure it was ours. An excited few days later and we found out it was – yippee!!!!
That put us behind because we only ordered the Hercules roof at the end of August and that wouldn’t get to us until January. Time to strip out the new vehicle and Dynamat it, insulate it and start planning the interior, and of course give it a name – for some strange reason Denzel stuck (big brother to Daisy the Jimny). Along with that we had soaked up all the YouTube vids ref mods to your Troopy, and what bloke doesn’t like trawling through the ARB catalogue – it’s the only time we enjoy shopping! Got a bit carried away down at G Guy Motors, and ordered a load of stuff, and it soon became apparent that they knew what they were talking about and felt confident enough to entrust them with fitting the roof (was after someone local who could do the fittings, and it felt right that my vehicle should be the guinea pig – they were excellent, and put up with me looking over their shoulder constantly).
Once done we took it over the certifiers (I had been in touch with LVVTA early on, and found the right man to speak to at H/O and therefore happy to make the commitment with cutting the roof off) and it sailed through certification. Alucab provide very detailed instructions, and as long as these are followed and evidence provided then there shouldn’t be any issue. Where we come in is to provide that link with fitters and certifiers – looking to build a network of reliable fitters, not just for Hercules/Icarus/Thor (the new conversion for Series 76 Landcruisers), but also for canopies, Canopy Camper and Khaya Camper, as well as RTT awnings etc. Not everyone wants to DIY it!!
Current situation is that we are virtually ready to book in for self containment certification, just to provide a bit of flexibility on where to stay around NZ – can’t always be remote. The vehicle is setup for outside and inside living, after all the NZ climate is somewhat changeable and being able to stay warm and dry is a massive bonus to extending the season. We have added a diesel heater for those colder nights.
We always thought we’d end up with a campervan, certainly after our experience in 1996, when you waved if you saw another one. However their popularity has put us off, and we just love to explore, so being limited to mainly sealed roads just wasn’t cutting the mustard. 4×4 it had to be, and if that meant a RTT, then so be it. As mentioned above a Defender or possibly another Disco was the likely option – now that I have a diesel V8 under the right foot, I know the right decision was made for us – just can’t stop grinning at the damn thing.
Check out Wild Roaming HERE, crack open a beer or sit down with a cuppa, you’re going to be there a while.
Here’s the costs for buying, installing and certifying a Hercules roof onto an existing Troopy from Greg;
• Hercules $14000 (current price – expecting this to increase due to shipping costs in particular)
Fitting – allow $2-2500 (have had one client fit his own, so if you have the skills, definitely doable – the instructions from Alucab are very good and simple to follow – we can then assist with the certification, finding the right certifier for the location that client is in, as well as tracking down an installer if need be – we are looking at having a trusted network of fitters for all things Alucab)
• Certification – cost us $850 but that included some other mods as well e.g. suspension, bulbar etc