In June of 2009 I found myself traveling ‘down under’ to attend the first annual PradoPoint Get Together event, for an Australian Land Cruiser Prado forum, in the Red Center of Australia. Before the event a member of the forum, who had become a good mate through an FJ Bruisers event ‘up above,’ invited me to join him on a trip from the Gold Coast across the Queensland outback to Birdsville, on the edge of the Simpson Desert. The goal was to do the famous Simpson traverse, a legendary overland route across an incredibly remote landscape. The traverse starts in the town of Birdsville, and that is where I first laid eyes on a beautiful 1981 Land Cruiser FJ45RV parked in front of the iconic Birdsville Pub. This machine was one of the finest examples of the breed I’d ever laid eyes upon. It was hard to break my gaze as my camera snapped away. I later took even more pictures of this fine machine at our campground, before heading off into the desert for a trip of a lifetime. After crossing the Simpson Desert with several now life long friends, we took the Ghan railway track to Alice Springs to attend the PradoPoint Get Together event. The trip even included travel in the Macdonnell Ranges and down to Kings Canyon to Ularu before I had to head back ‘up above.’
Exactly one year later I found myself on the Cape York Peninsula filming an Australian television commer-cial with Brad McCarthy and the team from MAXTRAX. The group met in Carnes and set out north through the Daintree National Forest and up the Old Telegraph Track to ‘The Tip’, the farthest point north of Australia, in Queensland. On the trip, I expressed my interest in finding a Troopy in OZ and bringing it back to the US. Brad said it was as simple as inquiring with the owner of one of these fine machines if they would be willing to sell after they returned from their offroad adventure to ‘The Tip.’ While there were plenty of Troopys spotted on this trip, none really called out to me enough to inquire further about.
On the return trip from ‘The Tip’ we took the Lakefield National Park route. We refueled at the Musgrave Telegraph Station, a last chance refuel, when I spotted a particularly lust worthy Troopy parked at the pump. I approached and chatted with the owner Clive, a pensioner who had retired and bought the vehicle to explore OZ, with two specific expeditions in mind, the Simpson Desert and Cape York Peninsula. After a good chat about the vehicle I gave the ‘Gray Nomad’ my business card and asked nicely to be his first call if he ever decided to sell his beautiful machine.
Upon my return to the US I was sorting through old photos of the previous year’s trip to the Simpson De-sert and noticed the solar shower and very rare mud flaps on the rear wheel arches of the Troopy I had lusted over in Birdsville. They looked very familiar. I pulled up the pics from the Cape York trip and quickly realized that the Queensland plates matched and that I had spotted the same Troopy on both trips. I im-mediately emailed Brad at MAXTRAX to see if the owner Clive had ever contacted him. With Brad’s “no” response my heart was broken once again.
About a month later I received an email from Brad titled “Your New Troopy.” The attached photos showed the Troopy I’d spotted on my two trips to OZ with its vintage ‘80’s ARB bull bar, solar water heater in the roof rack and rare rear mud flaps. Dreams do come true! We immediately started the discussion of how to get the vehicle ‘up above,’ which is not an easy task. While the plans to ship her were sorted out, a Kaymar rear bar and Lightforce lights were added. I also had Brad remove the bed system from the back and put back the iconic inward facing Troopy rear seats.
With record rainfall and flooding in Brisbane, the scheduled ships were unable to dock for over a two months. With hopes of getting her to Overland Expo 2012, she was driven all night to Sydney on Brad’s birthday to catch a ship for Long Beach. With my breath held, I tracked the ship as it crossed the Pacific. The Troopy hit the docks stateside on Wednesday and managed to clear customs late Thursday. Brad flew in early, waited for the paperwork to clear and drove overnight to make Overland Expo, which started Friday morning. As you can imagine, I was beyond excited as Brad drove this right hand drive manual beauty into Expo and handed me the keys, a moment I won’t soon forget!
I drove my new Troopy from Overland Expo in Arizona back to my home in Maryland, with a quick stop at Sierra Expeditions for a once over to make sure she was mechanically sound to make the journey. With a satisfactory bill of health, the cross-country drive went smoothly.
Once I got her home I changed the coolant hoses, coolant, vacuum lines, plugs, fuel pump, points, cap & rotor and added Old Man Emu springs and shocks. I wanted to keep everything original, but did need to cut down the Tradesman roof rack in order to add an ARB roof top tent. The Troopy has only needed minor repairs since. The 2F engine did need a new water pump, thermostat and radiator to keep her cooler and a new HEI distributor from Man-A-Fre to handle higher altitudes found on trips to Colorado and Utah. The aging door seals and hood rub guards were replaced to keep her rattle free, but other than that she’s still the same truck.
Since “Musgrave,” as I affectionately call my Troopy (named after the place I saw it that second time), has been ‘up above’, she has traveled to every Overland Expo, several Overland Rallies, Cruise Moab and is a regular on the trails of Goodsprings and around the Las Vegas area. I moved to Las Vegas a few years ago to open Outback Proven and “Musgrave” has been a showpiece and shop truck of the company ever since. She gets just as many lustful looks cruising the Las Vegas strip as she does on the trails in Moab.
To show my appreciation to Clive for letting go of this beautiful Troopy I sent him the original shift knob and a thank you letter. I have plans to fully restore this amazing machine to all its original glory and have been collecting ‘new old stock’ parts in order to do the restoration correctly. I’m so thankful that I can share my passion for Australian off-road culture with my wife and daughter, as well as my many clients at Outback Proven. “Musgrave” will stay in the family and remain a centerpiece for the company for many years to come. My love for this magnificent machine grows daily.
You don’t pick Land Cruisers...They pick you.
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