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Video | I Bought the Cheapest Toyota Land Cruiser in the USA: 6-Month Ownership Report

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author photo by Tyler Hoover May 2018

It took half a year to complete, but my 1999 Lexus LX470 build is finally finished. What started life as the cheapest Land Cruiser in the USA has been transformed into a formidable expedition rig -- and now that it's finished, I can finally total up the cost. I might have spent a little more than I thought ...

After buying it sight unseen, totally as-is -- which was especially crazy this time, since the Lexus had over 350,000 miles on the odometer -- it arrived in fairly good shape. Mechanically, everything worked (except the air conditioning), and other than a torn-up interior and a mysterious rust hole in the rear hatch, the Lexus was in remarkably good condition. This isn't an unusual case for Land Cruisers, as they are incredibly durable and the original owners tend to keep them for a long time. In terms of resale, these are a pretty good investment, too -- unless you're an idiot like me, and blow way too much money on mods.

Sorting out all the issues wasn't very expensive. The hardest part was finding a good, non-rusty hatch -- and after months of searching, I finally tracked down a nice one in California for $700. Unfortunately, it was damaged during shipping, but the bent corners were easy enough to fix with the repaint, which cost $300. I spent another $400 cleaning up the ratty interior, and only $210 to repair the AC system. With $359 spent on fresh service and fluids, along with a $75 detail, I was just a tad over $4,000 into a totally sorted LX470 -- a fantastic deal, but I couldn't stop there.

Apparently, I didn't learn my lesson from over-modding my 1992 NSX, as I went just as crazy with the Land Cruiser aftermarket parts catalog. I started with a 3-inch lift kit, which required tearing out the very nice adjustable hydraulic suspension system, but I also wanted to make room for the big knobby off-road tires. I helped a bit with the labor cost by lending a hand -- but at $1,986, it was still really expensive. In fact, it was almost as pricey as the custom front bumper setup I installed with an integrated winch, which cost $1,840 in parts and labor -- and I wanted to complete the rugged look by replacing the plastic running boards for hard metal rock sliders, sliding another $789 out of my pocket.

Finally, I had to install a snorkel, even though it will probably never see more than six inches of water -- because, let's be honest, what brodozer isn't complete without a fender-mounted snorkel? This cost $540, putting me all-in to this build for $9,224. Clearly, it's way more than this 350,000 mile Lexus is worth, but I'm very happy with the result. In the video above, I found a bit of mud to play in -- but I did have some problems navigating my giant rig around the narrow Jeep trails.

Since I'm already upside down into this Lexus, the logical move would be to not spend another dime on it -- but I really want a giant rooftop tent to complete the brodozer look. I want this even though I hate camping. Clearly, I'm a lost cause.

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Video | I Bought the Cheapest Toyota Land Cruiser in the USA: 6-Month Ownership Report - Autotrader