What's better than a sparkly new Toyota Land Cruiser? A well-loved, well-used FJ70. How do you improve from there? Drop that Land Cruiser into the jungles of Nicaragua where it's put to work accessing secret surf breaks, cleaning up debris and providing assistance to remote villages after storms. Jarred MacLachlan's Jungle Cruiser is the stuff dreams are made of. A rig like this isn't just badass--it's beautiful.
"I live in Escamequita, Nicaragua (about 20 mins south of the fishing and surfing village of San Juan del Sur). The roads between the border of CR and SJdS are mostly dirt/gravel and there are also a number of beaches hidden in the jungle that are only accessed via jungle tracks or on foot or horseback.
"I built the truck for a few reasons, I love getting off road and into locations that not many people get to, sometimes I do this alone so I need a vehicle and gear that I can work with to get me out of difficult situations. Also, there are many remote villages in this area and during storms it can be very difficult to access them due to poor road conditions and debris across the roads. With the Land Cruiser (and the right tools) I can get to most places to help out when needed.
"I also spend a lot of time on these remote beaches cleaning up trash that has been deposited by the ocean and also to explore the coastline. The surf on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua is world class, so it's great to find hidden waves surrounded by only jungle.
"The truck is also used on my land in Escamequita to carry gear to help with planting trees and maintaining the property. Nicaragua has a tropical climate so it gets both a rainy/green season (with daily rain) and then a very dry summer."
"I believe the most important thing with any serious off road vehicle is to get the right suspension. I travel on the dirt/rock roads every day and these can make for an uncomfortable riding experience as well as cause some serious wear and tear on substandard suspension. Upgrading to Old Man Emu was the obvious choice. Unlike many countries where there are many options for modifications, it is often very difficult and expensive to import items and it is important to have people that can maintain this type of equipment. Magma 4x4 in Managua are distributors of Old Man Emu in Nicaragua.
"Secondly, it is important for me to have lots of secure storage space. The DECKED Drawer System allowed me to have locked storage as well as to have the ability to carry heavy items on top of the drawers for easy access. The drawers do a great job in keeping out dust kicked up from the dirt roads as well as weathering the heavy downpours of rain that we get during the rainy season. I have a D-Box and a Crossbox in one drawer and this helps to organize my tools and store smaller items that I use often. At the moment my Drawerganizer is full of Guanacaste tree seeds that my daughters collected which will be planted shortly along the river on my property. My other drawer is used for all sorts of other items that come and go depending on the adventure. Right now it holds a beach umbrella, machete and recovery gear but it could equally be used for gear for a wing foil mission to the Caribbean Coast!
"The Ammo Cans are also awesome for storage of tie down straps and ropes and I also often use them as a temporary location for trash that I find in the jungle. They collect some water in the super heavy rains but they drain well with the holes in the base.
"I have Core Trax installed on the DECKED system which makes it super easy to quickly secure items onto the tray. Definitely worth having these to provide options for carrying gear and especially for strapping down the Roam cooler.
"Between the Roam Rugged Cases and the DECKED Drawer System I have various secure locations to carry everything I need and it makes for easy access!
"Toyota is the most common brand of vehicle in Nicaragua so it was important for me to get a vehicle that had access to lots of parts and people who had experience with repairs and maintenance. The Toyota 70 Series Land Cruiser has been known worldwide as the 'workhorse' of the Toyota fleet so it made sense to use it as the base of my build. Added to that was the cost efficiency of the diesel engine, petrol is very expensive in Nicaragua.
"These are very common vehicles to modify in places like Australia and South Africa but many of the modification options in these countries were prohibitively expensive to import into Nicaragua. I have been impressed by many of the Toyota Tacoma builds that have been undertaken in the USA so I looked at options of using many of these items on my build. It worked out that the dimensions of the Tacoma items worked well on the Land Cruiser base. For instance, the Uptop Overland Full Height Bed Rack for the Tacoma fitted onto the Land Cruiser bed rail almost seamlessly. The height of this rack allows me to have the Roam cases on top of the rack and still allow for long surfboards/paddle boards to extend back from the roof rack and over the cases, giving a more streamlined profile when driving."
Suspension - Old Man Emu Nitrocharger Sport including 2inch lift
Tires: Kumho MT71 Mud Terrain 315/75R16
Tire Carrier: Rigd Ultraswing Multi Fit
Bed Storage: DECKED Drawer System (Toyota Tacoma 2013) with Core Trax
Bed Rack: Uptop Overland (Toyota Tacoma Full Height)
Bed Rack Storage: 2x Roam 95L Rugged Case (OD Green)
Water Storage: 2x Scepter 5 Gallon Military Water Cans
Shower: Innhom Portable Outdoor Shower
Recovery Jack: Hi Lift PJ Harrah Signature Edition
Rear Lighting: KC Hilites 2 inch C Series
Roof Rack: ARB Base Rack
Roof Rack Lighting: ARB Base Rack Light Bar
Front Bumper: Original Toyota Bumper with added ARB LX470 Sahara Tube
Winch: OEM Toyota
Spotlights: ARB IPF900XS Driving Lights
Air Compressor: ARB
Gears: Front and rear differential gear upgrade to 4.88
Awning: Roam 5' awning OD Green (rear mounted to provide cover to the DECKED drawers in inclement weather or intense sun)
Additional adventure items:
Cooler: Roam 65 Quart Rugged Cooler Desert Tan
Chairs: 2x Chama Vaquero Chairs
Quick Fists: For spades, shovels, axes and picks
Seats: OEM leather with Black Duck brown canvas seat covers
All installation and modifications undertaken by Magma 4x4 in Managua, Nicaragua.
Follow along with Jarred's adventures on his accounts @the_dusty_gringo and @jungle_cruiser. While you're at it, tag @DECKEDUSA and use the hashtag #UNSUCKYOURTRUCK to show off your organizational abilities. We're picking a lucky winner each week to receive some free DECKED swag!