Words and image by Andrew Middleton
Since the highly unfortunate demise of the Cruiser 105 series in 2007, the world’s schoolyard of proper off-road bullies has dwindled. Yes, we have the Defender, G-Wagen, Land Cruiser 70 series and Wrangler options, but none of these come close to the comfort or space that a solid-axle 105 offers. I hear some Nissan fans crying, “You forgot the Patrol GRX,” but, alas, that too is on its last legs with a hideously puffed-up, independent-frontsuspension replacement on its way to SA sometime soon. For Johan Viljoen, although there are other vehicular options, nothing else would do. He’s a Cruiser man, and I have learned to see why.
The standard 105 version of the Cruiser was designed as a luxury 4×4 that could go anywhere, thanks to solid axles and solid build-quality; Johan has taken his more than just a step further and created his ultimate vision of what an overland vehicle should be. As the owner of his own 4×4-specific workshop (1st Alignment Centre, in Stikland, Cape Town), Johan is pretty clued-up when it comes to 4×4 fitment. So, it’s not hard to see why all the addons (including the interior appointments and suspension) were fitted by Johan in-house. The Cruiser, known as an FZJ105 with the thirsty but bullet-proof 1FZ-FE 4.5-litre inline-six petrol under the bonnet, was purchased almost stockstandard in 2011, and presented the perfect platform on which to build an overlander of epic proportions.
Now rigged to an almost unbelievable kerb weight of 4200kg tons (up from a standard vehicle’s 2650kg), Johan’s Cruiser has everything – including the proverbial kitchen sink. And, not unlike the kitchen in many people’s homes, that spacious interior houses not just one, but two National Luna fridges, and a fully-stacked spice rack. The two fridges roll on sliders, and a full drawer system at the rear keeps all the necessary camping gear in its place. A 52-litre stainless steel water tank, just where the rear seats would usually be, is stowed vertically to allow more storage space.