Dylan Smith could start every conversation with “Hello my name is Dylan and I am an addict’… Of course his addiction is a very healthy one, in fact one you are probably nurturing along very nicely yourself. He’s a Landcruiser junkie, and you could say a founding member of the Feldon Family.
How’d you get into having a vehicle that you can sleep in [or on], was it the fishing missions with the old boy?
I am lucky enough to have an old man that took my brother and I camping and fly fishing whenever he had the chance. He was an art director for years in the States before he and my mother sailed from Los Angeles to Opua. They loved it here and ended up selling the boat for a house in Auckland! Both of my parents were in the film industry so they needed solid work vehicles and this meant having cool vehicles at home in the driveway. Dad specifically needed a big vehicle for carting gear to and from set so Mum suggested a Defender. She learnt to drive in an early Series Landrovers on their family station so you could say it’s in the blood! The old boy had various jeeps and vans in the States too. Nothing says 1960’s hippie like a 23 window splitty VW van with a sun painted on the front for a first car. I then learned to drive in his 1998 300tdi Defender and I was hooked.
Seems you live a very busy life, how often do you manage to get away camping…and what would be your dream camping mission?
This is an interesting one and the answers you would get from different people in my life would certainly vary! When I first got involved in Sals (This is where “@pizzaboydylan” was born) it was very hands-on for the first few years until I had my systems dialled and really strong teams in place. Once I had things running smoothly I had more spare time and had very flexible hours. Jesse Peters and Joel Hedges are responsible for getting me hooked on surfing again. This is when I really started camping in and on the truck hunting waves. Adventures up North or down South surfing would be a weekly occurrence, much to my better half’s jealousy. She loves coming along and getting out as much as I do but doesn’t have a schedule quite so flexible. I think our original Feldon Shelter tent would be the most used Feldon in the country.
My dream camping mission would be three months to properly explore the South Island in the Troopy with my wife Brooke, hiking boots and my fly rod. Getting into all of the nooks and crannies I have researched but never had time for.
When we first met you had a very nice Landrover, but what did you have before that?
I remember that well, you had just got that Chevy Ambulance kitted out and were shooting up at Ahipara. Before the Defender I had a couple of Toyota Surfs (I am a Toyota nut if you hadn’t figured) which I had slept in the back of and camped from, but the Defender was the truck that really started it all, especially with the addition of the Feldon Shelter roof top tent.
How long did you have the Landy, and how was it fitted out?
I had the Landrover for about two years. It was basically stock with factory steelies and some slightly bigger BFG Km2s on at the time. Defender 130 springs to lift it up and carry heavier loads helped too. The back was really basic. All I had done was remove the seats and pile in surf gear and food. The Feldon was the 5 star accommodation up top. I am quite a minimalist which helps! I am into touring and exploring and have never been into hardcore four wheel driving, so my trucks have never been that heavily modified and I am quite the purist when it comes to old vehicles.
You had a Feldon Shelter Roof tent very early on, what’s the story there?
There is in fact a bit of a story there…Throughout high school I was right into my Japanese cars and the drifting scene. I had followed Joel and Adam Hedges on their blog “C’s Garage” for years, back when Joel built his first yellow Silvia and then went on to live in Japan. I was a real C’s Garage fanboy and loved their style and attention to detail on their builds which shows in all aspects of their lives. Luckily for me, they both loved Sal’s pizza and the connection was made. After hooking them up with some pizzas for drift days and getting to know them while building a car of mine, our friendship developed and we ended up close mates. I was lucky enough to see Feldon develop and snag myself the second or third production tent and I was stoked to be a part of the early “Feldon Family”. From there I was doing trips most weeks chasing waves and sleeping in the tent!
And you’ve helped with a lot of Feldon’s early trips South aye?
I was such an advocate for Feldon in the early days that people often thought I was working for them or getting a commission, ha!
I just saw hat a great product Joel and Beth had produced and wanted to see them do well. That’s what friends are for, and I was more than happy to push them on social media and give out the stash of Feldon Shelter brochures in my glove box when people asked what was on my roof at the lights or gas station.
There were however plenty of last minute surf trips Brooke and I have done with Joel and Beth in the early days which fuelled the stoke and made us want to get out more and more with the ease of sleeping on the truck. I wouldn’t call this helping them though, because it was them opening our eyes to this new way of travelling!
One cold winter’s night Brooke and I met the both of them at Bombay Hills after I had finished work and they finished up at a wedding. Five hours later we were camping in the snow, five odd degrees below zero…this started my obsession with the cold and pushing our camping a bit further chasing snow.
Why’d you sell the Landy and move over to Landcruisers?
I’m sure this will ruffle a few feathers…but at the end of the day, Land rovers are “British crap” as my old man would say and Land cruisers are Japanese. The craftsmanship and build quality are far superior. I won’t even dive into reliability and servicing costs.
My Grandmother is Japanese and was born in Kobe, so I have always been fascinated with Japanese culture and have a close connection there too. I recently talked my old man into a 200 series after selling his Defender and he would never look back now. That being said, I will always have a soft spot for Landys and would certainly own another.
How many and what Cruisers have you owned now?
As of now we only own our HJ47 Troopy after having just sold Brooke’s awesome BJ70 to put towards a house.
I started with an awesome red HJ61 and in hindsight I should have never sold this and it was the best one I’ve come across so far. I then moved onto a brown HJ61, then a different red HJ61. At the same time as this red HJ61.I bought an old FJ45 ute that had a diesel conversion. We then got Brooke’s BJ70 and realised three was too many so I sold the FJ45 ute to a buddy of mine. After selling the ute, we flew to Australia to pick up the HJ47 sight unseen after buying it over the phone when I saw a listing pop up in an Australian Facebook page. It was then I had to sell the red HJ61 too!
While waiting for the Troopy to arrive and only having Brookes BJ70, a FJ55 popped up for sale, the first one in NZ I had seen so I had to grab it. Not the smartest move but I couldn’t help myself! We ended up selling the FJ55 to put towards the house fund as well so now we just have the one. Much less admin and I enjoy having only one old truck to put through a warrant!
1985 Land Rover 110 county
2008 Defender Puma
Then I saw the light…
1984 HJ47 – the only one out of the lot with factory working aircon!!
The OLD Troopy ..now that’s a project. What’s the process like of finding an Aussie vehicle, buying it and then shipping it to NZ like?
It all started at the dinner table while staying at the fishing club in Turangi. I was being rude and checking a notification at dinner when I saw “might be selling this” and a photo of the truck posted on the comments section of someone’s wanted post.
I quickly found the guys Facebook page and we started chatting right away. A lot of the time the Aussie’s don’t like their nice ok’d trucks getting shipped offshore and I don’t blame them! However because of this, I was quick to point out all of my family lives in Australia and it turns out my Aunt lives just down the road from him.
I gave him a call and after talking about the history of the truck and it’s three owners, where he had taken it and everything else I might need to know, I gave him a deposit right away. I knew it was an absolute steal because I had been watching the market for quite a while and was willing to take the risk!
I’m glad we flew over to check it out and pick it up ourselves. This meant we could give everything a great clean before it got loaded on the boat and avoid extra cleaning costs in NZ. I have heard horror stories of people importing cruisers sight unseen. It was well worth the thousand odd dollars to fly over for a night.
The repair certification process is tedious and patience/money is required should the vehicle need one for rust or any repairs the compliance inspector finds. Other than that, it’s not all that bad but is a relatively costly experience. The truck was 50% of the overall cost once registered and the shipping, compliance, repair certification, panel work and overhauling it mechanically made up the other 50%. Of course, if you get something that won’t need much work you will fly through compliance; think of it as a strict WOF!
The Troopy went great on our New Years, South Island trip. I had just had the fuel pump, all hubs and axle seals, all wheel bearings, tie rod ends, diff rebuilt with brand new crown wheel and pinion and she was ready to roll! The only mishap was some snapped wires from opening and closing the barn doors too much and leaky weather strips that the west coast rain made very apparent!
I just replaced the 100amp/h battery with a brand new one because the old one had given up the ghost. I am running a totally stock truck mechanically and cosmetically with the addition of BFG Km2 tyres in a factory size. The 12v system is charged with a Redarc dc/dc charger and I am using this to power our 55L Dometic fridge which was an absolute game changer!
What’s the plan with the Troopy?
Drive it! It’s been a dream to get the Troopy around NZ as it’s done a loop of Aussie in its life already!