Born a Land Cruiser HJ47 quad-cab with a pickup body, this beautifully built 10-passenger Troop Carrier is now ready for the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard

words and photos by Russ Rocknak

Tedd Brown and his team at Cruiser Solutions in Hampstead, New Hampshire, provide full restoration services for the fabled and beloved Toyota Land Cruiser. Brown shares with us one of the company’s latest creations, a Troop Carrier headed for duty on the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard.

“This particular model was never imported directly into the United States, but some were brought in through the gray market. If a vehicle was 25 years or older, it was allowed in. This one fits that standard, so it was brought in from Australia,” explains Brown. “In its previous life, it was a mining vehicle owned and run by a mining company, and it was configured as a quad cab with a pickup bed on the back. Now it looks nothing like it did when we received it. We used it just as a core, keeping the frame, engine and several other components necessary to createthe custom-built vehicle you see today.

“Land Cruiser, being a separate division from Toyota Motor Corporation, made its products for different markets, like ThirdWorld countries and the Middle East, where there weren’t a lot of paved roads, and vehicles with four-wheel-drive capabilities were needed.

“A former client who is very passionate about Land Cruisers previously bought an FJ40 from us and has had a really good time with it. He started to think about having a Troop Carrier for his property on Martha’s Vineyard, and through a lot of discussion and planning, we sourced and bought this one as the quad-cab configuration. He asked if we could convert it into a Troop Carrier, and I said absolutely. It was perfect for the conversion.

“When you’re restoring Troop Carriers, FJs and Land Cruisers, in general, beggars can’t be choosers. There was a real proliferation back in 2004 through 2007, when lots of these vehicles were coming in from Australia because the currency exchange was very favorable for people in America. They were filling up a container or two with the vehicles and shipping them over to this country. This was shut off when the dollar value dove, and the exchange rate was no longer appealing. Since then people haven’t been bringing in many Troop Carriers, so if you can find one, consider yourself lucky. Diesel-engine Land Cruisers are also more prolific than the gaspowered versions brought into the United States. This version was never offered as a Land Cruiser here in the United States.

“My client had a vision for what he wanted with this vehicle: a soft-top, 11-passenger Troop Carrier. Our customer requested that the Land Cruiser be converted to left hand steering, because originally it had right hand steering when imported. The HJ47’s are typically right hand steering. With this new left hand configuration it changes the designation of the Land Cruiser to say an HJ45. It remains a diesel, but now has the left hand steering of an 45 series Land Cruiser. So the conversion and the designations don’t always coincide with one another, but it works just fine for our customer’s needs.

“Land Cruiser has been around since about 1958, and its first model was called a BJ. One drove up Mount Fuji and proved its off-road prowess many times over. A lot of people are drawn to these vehicles because they see them as some sort of safari vehicle, but they probably couldn’t tell you what it actually is. Some say it’s a Jeep or a Land Rover, or they just mislabel it in general. When they see one, though, it makes their neurons fire. You get a lot of attention when you drive one around, a lot of thumbs-up, smiles, and waves. It’s very unpretentious and approachable.”

This Troop Carrier is headed for the hard streets of Martha’s Vineyard to transport friends and family around the island. If you see it, give the passengers a wave and a smile. You can be sure they’ll be smiling back at you.