Custom Patriot Campers' LC79 review

Custom Patriot Campers' LC79 review

MANUFACTURING is dead in Australia.

At least that’s what you’d think if you listened to the horror stories of factory after factory shutting their doors after decades in business. The reality is, manufacturing is alive and well in Australia, but it just looks a little different these days.

Manufacturing runs in Justin Montesalvo’s blood, so when he decided to go into the camper trailer business there was no question of where things would be built. Patriot Campers’ rugged trailers have been a huge hit, but the team stepped things up a notch when they introduced their no-holds-barred range of Super Tourers – chopped, stretched and built LandCruisers, designed to take on anything in the country and do it in style.

Custom Patriot Campers' LC79 reearNow with one phone call things have been kicked up a gear again. The wild LandCruiser 79 you’re looking at is right now shoehorned inside a 20 foot shipping container and is halfway between Queensland (where it was built) and Mongolia (where its owner lives).

Thanks to the power of social media, Tamir and Bayarra Bold had been following the boys from Patriot as they travelled across the country on their adventures and figured they’d like to get in on the act in a rig of their very own. The only problem was they were about 8500km from the Gold Coast where the set-ups are built. They’d also need one in a left-hook configuration, and the sub -40°c winter temperatures meant a diesel donk simply wasn’t an option.

Custom Patriot Campers LC79 engine“It actually gets that cold over there, the diesel gels up and can’t run through the engine,” Justin told us. “To get the set-up he needed we actually had to ship an LC79 from Dubai down to us here with the 4.0L V6 petrol out of the Hilux, even with the petrol engine we had to fit an electronic block heater. In the middle of winter over there you’ve got about three minutes where you can have skin exposed to the air before frostbite sets in, so they’ll fire up the block heater, pack up their tent and then quickly jump in.”

Despite their similarities, a diesel Cruiser from down under and a petrol donk from the Middle East are always going to have a few differences that’d have to be overcome. The first job straight off the bat was removing the rear drum brakes and replacing them with a disc brake rear end using all genuine Toyota parts. The seats needed a little tweaking, too.

Recaro seats in LC79With no off-the-shelf kits available, fitting the trick leather-wrapped and internally heated Recaro bucket seats called for a set of custom brackets to suit the LHD configuration. The heated Recaros go some way to mitigating the Mongolian winters, and a remote start helps fire things into life from the comfort of a tent while the in-cab Webasto petrol heating system gets things nice and toasty.

With the Mongolia-proof modifications made it was time to start the Super Tourer process. The stock rear axle was yanked along with the leaf springs, and a new Jmacx coil conversion rear end was fitted a full 300mm further back thanks to a chassis extension. The new arrangement not only makes for a far better ride, but with the axle further back the Cruiser can take a bigger load and handle it easily. 

Custom Patriot Campers LC79 drivingWith the tools out installing the new rear end, the lads at Patriot went right through the suspension from front to rear. There’s a full EFS 3.5in lift kit at both ends with 40mm XTR shocks on each corner. The rear end has been fitted with an air-bag system to dial in spring rates for varying loads and is controlled by an in-cab digital controller.

The steering is dialed back to stock with 4in drop arms, EFS sway bar spacers and an EFS steering damper. The set-up allows fitment for up to a 35in tyre; in this case it’s a set of super aggressive all-terrain 315/70R17 Mickey Thompson ATZ P3s with 0 offset ROH Octagon 17x8in wheels.

Custom Patriot Campers LC79 side drawersThe Patriot guys have earned their name building some of the best campers on the market, so it’s no surprise the tray is the highlight of this build. It’s made from full marine-grade aluminium and divided into two distinct compartments.

On the driver’s side (that’s the left one) there’s twin Engel 40L fridge/freezers on drop-down fridge slides. Behind the twin fridges is a third drop-down slide, although this one plays host to the kitchen arrangement with a pantry storage compartment, gas cooker and kitchen sink all dropped down to a usable height.

Custom Patriot Campers LC79 driving rearThe right-hand side was left void to fit the ice auger when it lands in Mongolia, although there’s ample storage on both sides with pull-out drawers and shelves occupying every spare inch. Two full-size spares sit on the back, and the whole arrangement can be lifted off if you ever decide adventure isn’t really your thing.

Snaking its way through the unseen parts of the canopy is a who’s who of 4x4 modifications, each with a little Mongolian twist for good measure. The huge 140L polyethylene water tank is hooked up to a 12V water pump with specially selected components at each step to handle the extreme cold. There’s an extensive electrical set-up, too. The brain is a Redarc BMS1230 with twin 100Ah lithium batteries providing the run-time. 

Custom Patriot Campers' LC79 interiorA Goal Zero Boulder 90 solar panel helps keep battery levels topped up, while the combination of a 2000W Honda generator and 1500W Redarc pure sine wave invertor provides plenty of 240V options. Under the bonnet the 4.0L V6 has been fitted with a heat exchanger that’s piped up to the electric shower in the back. Just the trick for those cold morning starts.

If the storage room inside the tray runs short there are plenty of options up top, too. A Rhino Pioneer system provides options over the cab for bulky items, as well as a set of red MaxTrax with a 2.1m Supa Wing wraparound awning to provide extra shelter.

Custom Patriot Campers -LC79 topUp front the Cruiser runs a whole host of goodies from TJM, with matching front bar, scrub bars and sliders. Slotted inside the front bar is a 12,000lb TJM Torq winch, with a second one holed up in the rear winch-mount under the tray.

Aside from the heated Recaros and Webasto petrol heater the interior has copped subtle yet usable modifications in every direction. Extensive sound deadening makes life a little more bearable and also provides insulation in both hot and cold conditions. Internal storage is provided by MSA 4X4 seat organisers, with overhead and centre consoles rounding out the package. Both front doors have been fitted with speaker pods to house the Fusion stereo, while a GME TX3550S provides reliable communications.

Custom Patriot Campers LC79 lightsThe engine remains relatively standard (read: reliable), but it has had a little tickle under the chin to keep the 79 hustling. On each bank of cylinders there’s a set of tuned length stainless-steel headers that feed into a full 3in mandrel-bent system courtesy of the guys at Northside 4x4. A tweaked Unichip system handles the engine management system while a 1300Nm rated clutch provides drive through the factory five-speed.

While we’ve come to expect extravagant go-anywhere builds on Australian shores, this one highlights just how well-received our gear is on the world stage. The usual over-the-top but oh-so-awesome style of Patriot Campers, mixed in with the failure-means-death Mongolian attitude, has pieced together what could be the start of a strong future of small-scale Australian manufacturing.

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