I admit to being a tiny bit anxious as the “official” resident Toyota Land Cruiser disciple when Graham Jackson and his wife, Connie Rodman, bought a 1994 Troopy to match the ’93 Roseann and I had bought, for a trip across Australia’s Simpson Desert and further explorations Down Under. You see, Graham has lived and breathed Land Rovers since his childhood in southern Africa when the family toured the Kalahari Desert in an early Range Rover. Connie is not far off in terms of disciple-hood, and the two of them drove a Defender 110 from London to Cape Town. While Graham has no intellectual prejudice against the Toyota, it’s clear where his heart lies.
So I naturally wanted those two Troopies to perform perfectly. Statistically I knew the odds were high, but we were dealing, after all, with two unfamiliar 20-plus-year-old vehicles with 230,000 km (ours) and 400,000-some km on the clocks. And Land Cruisers in Australia tend to be used as God and Toyoda-san intended.
And perform perfectly they did. The naturally aspirated 1HZ diesels earned praise from Graham for their 20-21 mpg economy at 110kph on Australia’s paved highways, and for their effortless low-end torque once we hit the Madigan Line to cross the desert. I believe I overheard an adjective along the lines of “fantastic” a few days into the trip.
Once out of the desert and past Birdsville, we cranked up the speed again to get back to Sydney. On one stretch of highway I switched from the near-empty front fuel tank to the full rear—and about 15 minutes later the engine started faltering.
We pulled over and consulted. The consensus was that the transfer pump in the rear tank, which simply moves fuel to the front tank from where the main fuel pump picks it up, was failing to deliver an adequate supply to keep up with the consumption at high speed. Clogged fuel filters were ruled out as the engine-compartment-mounted factory units had been replaced before the trip. It was a minor issue as we didn’t need the range of both tanks on the highway; we dumped our spare jerry can of diesel into the front tank and continued with no further problems.But was that the glimmer of a smirk on Graham’s face as he drove off? Just a minute upturn at the corners of his mouth? So, they are not perfect.
Back in Sydney we left the vehicles with Daniel at the Expedition Centre for further modifications and an investigation into the fuel-delivery problem. And presently the answer came back.
At some point in the past 23 years a previous owner had, quite sensibly, installed a cheap Pep Boys plastic prefilter in the line just ahead of the rear tank—and then forgot all about it. Daniel’s mechanic found it, cut it open, and revealed a solid mass of gunk inside. Problem solved and truck running happily on either tank. They may not be perfect, but at least this issue was definitely not a Toyota issue.
To be fair, there was one other complaint acknowledged by us all regarding both vehicles: The stock seats were rubbish, especially after a couple of decades of ample Aussie bums bouncing around on them across the Outback. We’re addressing that now; report soon.