Our staff photographer asked us to help him with identifying, acquiring and modifying a vehicle for his pursuit documenting the salty life of the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The requirements were straight forward: "a truck to get me and my equipment to, on and off the beach."
It took us an entire five minutes to pick the vehicle - the venerable Toyota HZJ78, aka the Land Cruiser Troop Carrier or "Troopy." It is inarguably the most capable off-road truck one can buy and essentially unchanged for 25 years. It was never available in North America but it is one of the best selling heavy-duty trucks in Australia and the go-to choice for emergency services, militaries and guerrillas in Africa and Central America. It isn't stocked and generally not available to "civilians" in Costa Rica, but Purdy Toyota was very accommodating and got us the truck (18 months later).
The truck is near-perfect from the factory, but after consulting with our friends at Blackdog Traders and ARB Costa Rica we came with a list of improvements to fulfill the challenge posed to us. The truck came equipped with factory winch, roof-rack and snorkel. Using almost entirely ARB parts, over the next three months we will be swapping the suspension and lifting the truck 2 inches; adding auxiliary lights and a second battery; mounting slightly more aggressive tires; and adding on-board air compressor. We are still grappling with the design of storage space in the back, so if you have some ideas, we would love to hear from you!
Look for Part II of this post in three or four months - we should be done with the build and have more photos.