December 18, 2022

Cruiserhead Spotlight 3

Hello everyone. Excited to bring to you another fun cruiserhead spotlight! For our third interview we are “traveling to Malaysia” and talking with our friend @Tai392! He has been a great friend since we started the Cruiser Cult and it’s about time have a chat with him. When I first had the idea for the Cruiser Cult, talking to and gathering cool stories from Land Cruiser lovers from all over the world was one of my top goals. So getting to go international (even if it's virtual) is super exciting for me and why its extra exciting to get some of Tai’s time and ask him some fun questions!
A fun first question is of course, how did your passion for cars and trucks start?

1st off I gotta say thank you so much for having me on the platform, such an honor! well the car bug really started with my dad being a gearhead also. “Guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree hey?” so when I was brought home for the first time, we at the time were using a HDJ81V and the rest as they say is history.
Your family has some history with Land Cruisers correct? What was your first introduction to Land Cruisers?
My family has had a very extensive history with the Land Cruiser marque, from my grandpa having a 1988 HJ61V 12HT 60 series high-roof with every option including the Mechanical drive PTO winch on the front, after that my dad started dabbling in Land Cruisers primarily in Land Cruiser 40 series, if not mistaken he’s had at least 10-15 40 series ranging from FJ40’s, BJ40’s (mostly) as well as the BJ43 he took my mom out during their First date. Guess Cruiser really does run through the blood. My first introduction is when I was brought home for the 1st time in a HDJ81V (1HD-FT 24 valve) in the front seat.
Your family business is in 4x4 parts and some repair correct? Do you service all types of trucks?
Our Family Business, Lip Soon Seng Auto Parts has been around since 1999 dealing in used/ new spare parts for Toyota, Nissan, Land-Rover, Isuzu, Mitsubishi etc. We were introduced under my alias “JDM Parts Keningau” as it started as a spinoff for JDM cars. We have stayed away from full on mechanical repair work due to different demands as most customers have their own mechanics place lined-up we occasionally do stuff like offer Engine conversions thru a trusted 3rd party where by we supply engine/ anything drivetrain related and the 3rd party does our mechanical work like for example Toyota 1KZ-TE conversion into say LN106 gen Hilux or early Land Cruiser Prado’s (70 Series Prado’s). we also cater to the 3-ton truck class which is the US Equivalent to Ram 2500/3500 trucks.
What Land Cruisers have you owned over the years?
Land Cruiser ownership for me have stretched between the 1st one being the 1995 Land  Cruiser Prado 70 series with the 1KZ factory engine or KZJ78W in EX Wide trim. It was a fixer upper sort of car which I later sold. Next came the 2005 HZJ105R which is the 100 series base model from OZ with the solid front and rear axle with locking diffs and a sub tank and barn door rears with the 1HZ Naturally aspirated Diesel engine with a turbo that was strapped on by the previous owner. We then put 35” tyres on it with new wheels as well as a locally produced Front Bullbar. After that my dad and I spent some time to fettle with the mechanical injection fuel pump to make it deliver more power. We also then sold that and the only Cruiser left is our family bus the 1999 HDJ101K with the FTE and 4 speed auto, the car in which we have owned for 11 years. Which has been very reliable and we have modified (because we can’t leave anything at good enough) the fuel pump slightly as well as a tuning module that my uncle made to make it more powerful in terms of power delivery. With the new nitrocharger shocks its basically the perfect long distance highway car for big long journeys thru Borneo wretched road system (hence why almost everyone has a 4x4 of some sort).
Did you have a favorite?
I loved the HZJ105R but I did regret selling it honestly. I regret not putting smaller tyres and keeping it relatively daily-able. The ultimate dream Land Cruiser would be the Modellista PX10 since it is what the Midwheel base should have been instead or at least offered as a standard production model.
You have made some really cool youtube videos about Land Cruisers, particularly one on the 1HDTFE… When did those first start? Check out his channel HERE.

Well the fascination started with an article and a hashtag on Instagram. Let me explain, so when I was digging thru my dad’s magazine during the start of global lockdown on March 20,2020 (God that feels like only yesterday typing this) I stumbled across an old school tuning magazine for 4wd cars of course it being Japanese I couldn’t understand a thing what was written but the stuff mentioned and the wild aesthetics of these Cruisers drove me to do more and more research which made me appreciate the HDJ101K we have more. Then one thing led to another and I had “screw this” and I recorded it all the footage on my phone to upload with my research. At the time, the idea of making video’s was preposterous but I saw a distinct lack of certain content I wanted to watch with most video’s basically regurgitating the same thing from Wikipedia, and all that normal media sources. So that led to that and a 1K+ subscribers (which I am very grateful for) here we are today.
Do you currently have plans for more informative videos?
I am currently planning my 80 series video (which is currently in post-production as I type this) which will encompass everything (almost since I have omitted the middle eastern market as well as south American market so no mentions of the 2007 FZJ80) but I think it should cover everything from the development engineers which is heavily shortened to not bore everyone as well as the stories associated (and here I must mention the story has to be labelled as fiction due to discretion of how I got the story and who from). But it should be fun. I do plan to do the 40 series and 60 series and 50 series eventually but I don’t think I will be able to cover them the same way as the 80 since I took over a year to research it.
This BJ60 started out life as a run of the mill 60-series daily, it has since transformed into this beast of an offroad rig. She runs a Toyota Mega-cruiser BXD20 15B-FTE 4.1L diesel engine with a 5 speed manual with front and rear axles from a HDJ81 Triple locker car. This cars mod list could be so long it might as well be a video feature car(might do it lol)
In your research of Land Cruisers, does one rein king in your mind?
Every Land Cruiser platform has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but for my needs a HZJ105R would be perfect for me or a 2005-2007 HDJ101K or HDJ100R Sahara will fit my needs (I must stress this is my personal views) but in terms of offroad performance I have to give that honor to the old 80 series. Especially a HDJ81 with the factory triple locker setup as the drivetrain is probably the strongest out there at least in Land Cruiser world.
This Land cruiser 80 series in particular is quite special as it features a Unimog Mercedes Portal axle system.
This 100 series is far more than what meets the eye as it runs Megacruiser Portal axle sections (basically the megacruiser portals with associated gears) adapted to the factory 100 series axles (or 80 series) yet it remains IFS up front with the same 100 series suspension underpinnings.

In some of our conversations you have talked about an amazing 4x4 adventure in Borneo (see pictures of some of the rigs below). How did you get involved in that?
ahh yes, the Borneo Safari is not just any normal event heck 4wheeling is not just another hobby. It is not just a hobby it is a way of life with the aforementioned condition of roads in Borneo contributing to the overwhelming popularity of 4wd’s like the Land Cruiser. The event was formed in 1990’s when the event was inspired by Camel Trophy which did arrive in Borneo shores in 1994. The 1st event for Borneo Safari started off as nothing more than a weekend out to get away from the hustle bustle of the city has since turned into a national phenomenon wear winning it ain’t for the faint hearted. I got involved in it due to clients who have become good friends frankly because the community spirit of egging each other on to do better is a real culture around these parts. One of our clients recently wanted to compete in the top echelon of the event or SS or “Special Stage” where these dedicated race trucks which are built to a similar style of “King of the Hammers” or the Australian “Tuff Truck” So he tasked us to source the parts he needed to build his Competition car.  he’s done okay and most importantly he is enjoying himself.
The Client/ Friend car we helped source parts for.
One Such SS “Special Stage” competitors also the 2 cars represent the evolution of the competitors cars (notice the 40 series is rolling on 80 series Axles and coil swapped too)
Do you think you would ever want to drive in that event? :)
I have considered it recently but not as a competitor but as a “Tag-Along” or “Competitor Support” which is less demanding competition wise but still no cakewalk either.
How do the Land Cruisers perform in that crazy event?

The land cruiser representation is strong with I think 65% to 70% being Land Cruisers whether as Tag Along or Competitor support or even Competitors use the Land Cruiser. One such competitor uses a Race Truck styled to look like an FJ40 which they have dubbed “40 LS” with it’s custom portal axle setup, tube chassis and a thumping great LS V8 I did quite well against some strong competition this year. Most of the cars that start out as IFS like say a Later Toyota Hilux get swapped to 80 series coil axle which we dub as “Tukar Ninja Axle” or loosely translated as “Changing to 80 series axles” since they were abundant back then and with the 80 series axle being the toughest option available in terms of solid axle swaps go, it has become very widespread.
Pic attached is “40 LS”. So far the only Land Cruiser based SS car in terms of aesthetics since most of the competitors run “Suzuki Jimny Style”(or Suzuki Samurai style) rigs

One Such example of an 80 series front and rear axle swapped Tag Along car. This is done for strength and increase it’s wheel articulation due to this generation Hilux came stock with IFS.

For others around the world, what is the cruiser community like in Malaysia?

The scene around Malaysia is very inclusive with people often sharing info as well as helping each other out when someone is in strife. Though there are different styles of how people like to customize their Cruisers with the above-mentioned Borneo Safari attendees preferring their cars to be more “fit for purpose” with beefed up drivetrain and tough as guts barwork to protect the vehicles from the obstacles that lie ahead. There is another type which is focused more towards camping and the atmosphere that surrounds it with less aggressive setup but more creature comforts on board. The 3rd is the people who accessorize them to be their ideal vision of the Land Cruiser they want. I fall into the latter category with my cars more suitable for daily driving.
What would you say are the most popular or common cruisers in your country?

The most common Land Cruiser you will see depends on where you live, if you live near the city or urban areas you will see a lot of 200 series Cruisers and 150 Prado’s being quite popular due to their size. Recently (as of writing November 23rd 2022) there are a few 300 series Land Cruisers rolling around town. As far as getting away from the urban setting you begin to see many older Land Cruisers like 1981-1984 HJ47 Pickup’s and BJ40’s around rural parts of the state with the HJ47 still being used for agricultural roles whilst the BJ40 used for rural area transport where the going gets rough. The other popular Cruiser is of course the 70-series specifically the HZJ75 Pickup and LJ79 4 Door Wagon, the HZJ75 is still being used as the primary workhorse for carrying timber as well as palm oil (due to Malaysia being a palm oil producing/ exporting country) with the LJ79 being used to haul families as their daily mode of transport.

An example of a typically modified HZJ75 (albeit very well modified) HZJ75 Base with a 1HD-T from a HDJ81V with HDJ81 Triple Locker Axles underneath so it does not run Leaf springs on all four corners anymore.
The Shorty in the back was once a KZJ71W Land Cruiser Prado 70-series but the owner has since modified it with a tuned 1KZ Diesel engine, HDJ81 Front and rear Triple locker axle from LC80 and a UTE chop.
Were there any cruisers that Malaysia didn’t get that other wished you had? (This question clearly comes from someone who lives in a country that got very limited options. Hahaha).

We are fairly lucky we get almost all the generations of Land Cruiser here with some being imported to make their way here. I do however we got the Bandeirante 40 series double cab as that is the only version we did not get or the Australian Arkhana 40 but most of my countrymen are not deterred by that and have set about making themselves one Borneo style, one of which my neighbor owns which is an extracab/ dual cab hybrid of a BJ47. I also wish we had the Meano and sons Dual cab 70 series conversion from South Africa too. Oh How could I forget the Infamous Modellista PX10 which is basically a HZJ73 with a hardtop roof instead of the FRP Removal top.
This is my dream Land Cruiser. A Modellista PX10 based on the HZJ73
Have you seen any changes in the cruiser community over the years?

We have been seeing a lot more of the younger audience who are picking up interest in 4wdíng especially in terms of camping. Some who come from backgrounds of Sportscars like JDM Nissan Skyline GT-R’s or Supra’s or even Euro Exotics like Porsche’s too. They have recently been buying 40-series Cruisers in Grade A condition as well as 60-Series too with 70-series and 80-series closely followed behind. There have also been a drive to push for more creature comforts and technologies that aid in offroad or improve the daily-driveable characteristics.
We would like to thank you very much for your time. We like round out our interviews with one last question. Was there anyone you want to highlight, or give a shout out to in the local cruiser community that helped you out along the way or think we should talk to?
Well if you guys do ever show up to Borneo Safari you know who to call up LOL. In all seriousness though, if you come to Malaysia I suggest you look for our groups Leader like Alvin, Alex, Reza, Kom, Kimmy, gosh there is so many names I could go on for HOURS. But I think of you ever plan to enter Borneo Safari as a Tag Along I say speak to Alvin and Alex first since they are part of the organizing committee. Reza is also part of the organizing committee too who is also an OG Cruiser Head.
A huge thank you to Tai for taking the time to answer our questions. Such a fun guy to talk to. We really appreciate him sharing some of his cool cruiser history and info with us! Its always so fun to chat with fellow Land Cruiser enthusiasts! Hopefully one day I can get over to Malaysia and meet the man and see some of these awesome rigs in person. Cheers everyone and stay tuned, we have another spotlight coming soon!

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