You’re in for a treat… and/or a healthy dose of envy. Come on in and meet Sam Minnell and his beautifully outfitted 1990 75 Series Landcruiser. She’s a thing of rugged bewty….
Hi my name is Sam, I’m 38 years old, based in Christchurch, NZ, married with two kids, 1 girl 6 years old almost 7 and one boy who is 3. Photography isn’t my full time job at the moment (currently working for a giant American corporate selling medical equipment) but is something I truly enjoy doing and makes me some income to keep sinking into adventures! It came about as a way of documenting what I was doing and has continued to build into more, and something that I will transition into full time as soon as I can.
I have always had some interest in 4wds and have owned a few different ones over the years including one of the original Terranos, mainly for the purpose of getting up ski field roads and going on bike missions etc. Over the last few years as my skiing has evolved into more backcountry adventures I wanted to create a vehicle that I could use as a bit more of a basecamp. That I could drive up somewhere remote with some good options to ski/bike and use the truck as a base with power/tent etc to be able to go from. Also with young kids I wanted to create an easy way to get out into the outdoors to start with and 4wd seemed like a great option for this. I have always loved the oldschool styling of the 70 series and a Troopy has all the room in the world to pack things into haha, while still being capable off road and still having some charm!
I committed to the Troopy purchase about 3 years ago, it’s a bit of a long story but I had been looking for one for ages and a buddy of mine found it for me in a shed having been undriven for the last 10 years so it is pretty much a literal barn find. It is a 1990 HJZ75 and it originally did have the 1HZ motor when I first bought it, but I have since engine swapped it to a 1HDT, [the rare, sort after factory turbo version] Goes a lot faster now!
As far as I can work out it is factory toyota army green, which was apparently a special edition.. So relatively rare I think.
For me it’s pretty much the swiss army knife of trucks, it will be used as a family camper to get the kids out into nature and enjoying adventures, getting me into the back country for some more involved adventures and just my general love of being in the outdoors! A night camping in the truck is one of those happy places. As well as carrying all my camera gear around to document the memories
It was completely stock when I purchased it, had the original split rims and everything on it.. I felt kind of bad modifying it actually haha. But it had sat for 10 years or so so some things need some TLC and it needed some mods to make it more liveable and more capable off road.
This is going to be a pretty long list but the mandatory changes were the parabolic leaves – saved me 300kg in weight plus made the suspension work so much better, especially paired to some Dobinson remote reservoir shocks. Changing the engine to a 1HDT was night and day – it now hauls ass up hills and has plenty of torque to spare. Putting a snorkel on that was actually sealed. And then the rooftop tent as accommodation was needed. The list of other mods is below:
Offset rims and spacers to widen the track so it wasn’t so tippy.
ARB compressor and diff locks
Maxxis Razor 33 inch Tires
Probuilt Fabrication airbox and rock sliders
Front runner roof tray and Feldon Shelter Lo Pro Hawks Nest tent.
Complete sound deadening throughout cabin, new roof liner, floor liner and reupholstered seats
2 front facing seats int he back for kids
ARB drawer system
Solar panels 100w x 2
LED head lights
2 x lightbars
3 inch exhaust
front runner rear ladder
GP factor max trax holder on rear wheel
ARB Diff breathers
Isolating junction box for all power items
Custom alloy panels throughout the interior with the walls insulated
Front runner rear pull down table
Rhino Rack awning
I think that is the complete list, oh and I have to shout out to Al at Summit 4WD in Christchurch for his help on the build!
In the back there’s Goal Zero generators Yeti and Tank, a CFX Fridge and ARB Drawers full of camping equipment and coffee.
For water I just have some water containers and I run a MSR purifier so I can top it up wherever I am.
Electrics are based off the Goal Zero portable battery system that I have set up in the back which can be connected to the 2 x 100w solar panels mounted to the tent.. I have converted the air vent on the side to allow the power to come in through the side of the truck plus have a 12v output to the outside of the truck as well. Once you plug the solar panels into the vent it charges the batttery system. It can store 1700wh of power plus top up on panel. Runs my fridge plus charges my camera gear for about 5 or so days without charge..
Everything else I run a pretty light setup – cooking is just two x portable MSR gas cookers, and a sweet little stovetop espresso machine.
Heating is practically non existent at this stage- haha – just some really good down sleeping bags and winter clothes. I will look at a diesel heater sometime in the near future..
At the moment the sleeping situation is a little cramped. To be able to carry four people in the way the Troopy is setup I had to sacrifice some room for the front facing seats so we all sleep in the Hawks Nest roof top tent at the moment which is a bit like sardines haha. I’m working on some ideas at the moment to have it setup so we can sleep two inside with a little platform addition to add a bed and two in the roof tent. I’ve been lucky that it is mostly just my daughter that is coming with me at the moment but that will change as my son gets older.
This is the 3rd tent I have had on the roof and the setup I am the most happy with. I really didn’t gel with the soft tent, it took quite a while to set up and having to zip the cover off and store it was painful. Plus the hard top is much easier to mount items to like solar panels etc.
The other thing with soft tents is if you want to quickly carry on or move spots it requires a bit of admin to pack down. Height clearance, especially in NZ, the soft tent was easy to rip. The second tent I had was an early gen Alucab which was epic – but it was really high – like 28cm deep so the height it added to the truck was way too much, got me epically stuck in Napoleon Hill, due to some low hanging trees. So I think the new low profile hard RTT are the sweet spot for me – great clearance, hard to damage with the metal shell, super easy and quick to setup and pack down, and personally I think are better in high wind situations and provide a much darker sleeping environment. All wins in my book.
Sam’s photography, as you can see from this feature is excellent, check out his blog HERE
And give him a follow on Insty HERE