Toyota Land Cruiser 60 series modified at Resto

MOffroad Images’ ichael Ellem may own this stunningly restored 60 Series, but he assures us that it’s not just a 4×4 – it belongs to the people

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t seen the gorgeous 60’s Sandy online or on various social media accounts. This design is the brainchild of Offroad Images founder Michael Ellem, who also owns the Mighty 79, a highly modified LandCruiser 79 series on gate hubs.


When Michael found this Series 60 in a parking lot outside of Kalgoorlie, it was a far cry from what it looks like today. The owners were having trouble even getting started, the rust had crept really well into the body, and the interior looked more like a dog breakfast than a place to sit comfortably. They agree to sell it to Michael and the rest, they say, is history, but only on the condition that he’ll return the sixty and they’ll get to drive it one last time when finished. It was a done deal, and Michael got to work putting together a team of expert dealers and businesses in the off-road game.

Beginning with a well-used 1985 60 Series LandCruiser, Michael set out to recruit expertise from the best of the best in the auto trade to convert the old girl. When we say “conversion,” we mean it too… From rust repairs to engine swaps, no nut or bolt was left untouched.

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So, what are Sandy 60’s plans? Well, you’ll have to follow along as 4X4 Australia is running a whole series on this amazing vehicle. Mick wants Sandy 60 to travel to this country, telling us not only about the amazing sites we’re lucky enough to own, but also the stories of some of the amazing people behind the 4WD community.

This is going to be an epic series brought to you by 4X4 Australia, which we are excited to show you in the coming months.

Resto Moddid

Rust is the enemy of older four-wheel drives. While this Series 60 looks like a fairly decent unit, it soon became apparent that it would need some serious surgery to make it better than new.

“Some of the floors needed a lot of work, and had to be cut and made from scratch,” Michael says. “This was one of the most interesting parts of the process, seeing these skilled fabricators create new custom parts and panels from raw materials.”

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On Track Fabrication handled the body work and also made the awesome custom back tape, which Michael insisted should match the body lines of the back end of the ’60s. One of the Sandy 60’s most striking design elements is the hood. This was hard work, grafting a Series 79 scoop onto the Series 60 hood—you have to agree, it’s a work of art. The paintwork and inlay of this hood were completed by color treatments at Distorted Paint & Restoration.

“At first, I just wanted to do basic closed-door rebreathing,” Mick explains. “Once the car had been stripped and ready to be sprayed, Jayden from Distorted Paint said it would be a crime not to, to do justice to the car… We were really amazed at how it looked and so glad we went the extra mile there.”

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The entire interior has been getting a lot of attention, with a new custom dark-colored headlining being the most visible. Auto Builders Soundproofing was applied to the floors once the rust had been completely removed; Since the factory vinyl looked like it was sitting in a swamp, it was tossed in the trash and replaced with a new carpet (which looks much neater).

American muscle

When Michael chose the Series 60, the engine had already been replaced by a 6.2-liter Chevy V8 diesel. While this sounds good on paper, this particular engine is way past its expiration date and won’t do it justice.

This is the last thing anyone will want to deal with halfway through what is essentially a ground-up rebuilding, both from a time standpoint and a financial standpoint.

Michael, an absolute optimist, saw this as an opportunity to upgrade the car and make it even better. As such, the experts at Brunswick Diesels rebuilt and outfitted the 6.5-liter V8 Diesel Optimiser from a US military Humvee.

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“What I love about this engine, is that it has no computers and is completely mechanically controlled,” Michael tells us. “Not only does the part sound, but torque is generated primarily from idling, which is useful for technical driving downhill off-road.”

This engine is mated to a completely rebuilt five-speed gearbox and transmission case, which the team at Marks 4WD Adapters handled with great success. They also installed a set of transmission reduction gears, so you know this Series 60 is a serious mountain goat on steep trails.

springs and things

ARB Old Man Emu suspension got a nod for the Sandy 60, with all suspension components replaced and upgraded. In addition to Old Man Emu shocks and leaf springs, Michael opted for a pair of Airbag Man airbags in the rear, which can be easily adjusted via the ARB LINX on-the-fly system.

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In terms of tires, Michael is a big fan of his BFG KM3 mud terrain, and after going huge miles on his other cruiser, the Mighty 79 saw no reason to change.

“In addition to the 285x75R17 BFG mud, I also chose a set of ROH Vapor alloy wheels,” says Mick. “I run the same wheels on my 79, and as far as I’m concerned, changing the wheels is one of the quickest and most effective ways to customize your car, and make it your own.”

touring adjustment

The buggies are great, especially the restored and modified 60 Series LandCruisers, but getting to the gear in the back can be a chore. Mick chose a clever set of seagull windows from 3XM, which allow him to quickly and easily access and grab a beer or his camera (never at the same time). Speaking of the back of the Sandy 60, to keep all of his gear safe and organized, a set of Outback Touring Solutions’ drawers are outfitted with custom side wings made by the ARB Wangara team. The one drawer is a half height lower unit, so Mick can secure his ARB refrigerator and provide easier access.

At the front of the tray system, the team was connected to a Redarc Manager 30 system, 700W Redarc Inverter, and ARB LINX system, as well as a 100Ah Revolution lithium battery to charge camera gear and laptops on the road. There are also two batteries in the engine bay, so there should be more than enough 12v power.

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Mick tells us that anything that could be rebuilt or replaced was. Most of the tricky parts came from Terrain Tamer, who have basically anything you would need for an old Toyota 4×4. For example, while installing the ARB diff locks, all bearings and seals were refurbished with new Terrain Tamer equipment. Mr. Ellem takes reliability and maintenance very seriously; In case you have not realized this fact.

On the rooftop, you’ll notice the ARB roof rack, which is cleverly decorated with cruise modifications. There is a pair of Redarc solar panels to charge the batteries; And you can also see Bushranger’s LED strip light, which helps to spread out on dark, remote roads. There is a stack of TREDs behind the light bar for recovery missions, and behind that is a large storage bag for possibilities and ends with swag strapped behind. There’s also an ARB canopy on the passenger side, which makes for a great snowmobile touring but wonderfully functional.

second opinion

Suzy’s Alan Johnson seriously drives Sandy 60 and shares his thoughts

When the Series 60 LandCruiser was born in August 1980, it was equipped with a four-speed manual gearbox and a choice of the very slow 2H diesel or the fuel-hungry 2F gasoline engine.

Nearly 42 years later, Michael Ellem and his crew have reborn these dangerous sixties with a 6.5-liter military V8 Humvee matched with a five-speed gearbox—and what a great rebirth.

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From the low power to the massive torque blocks with the V8, it’s exciting to drive, but don’t forget the impressive restoration work from Team Michael. From a thoughtfully designed 79 Series Hybrid hood, aftermarket seats, and modern electronics, this is no ordinary cruiser. It’s a time machine that takes me back to the ’80s, driving into Woods Point where some things change, and some things don’t. Commercial and Main Street is almost unchanged, the trails change every season but the great memories of quad bikes are never forgotten.

My time in the driver’s seat will be a cherished memory; Just point that beast, leave the clutch out and it’s a mountain goat on steroids. Thanks for a great trip in a great recreation of one man’s vision of what the 60 Series could and should be.

There is one big problem with this car: There is only one problem and it is not mine. I own a 12HT 60, and it’s a great car that I love; But, seriously, Sandy 60 is in a league of its own.

With thanks

  • Rust fixes, custom backseat mods, plus project management assistance… Luke, Riss and the team at OTF @ontrackfabrication_otf4x4
  • Custom 79 Bonnet and all paint restoration work by Jayden and the team @distorted_paintandrestoration
  • 60 Knowledge Series, Building Project Management Assisted @4x4sean
  • Air Lockers, Linx, Suspension, Back Drawers, Fridge & Protective Gear from @arb4x4
  • UHF and cellular communications: gme_au
  • 6.5L Diesel V8 (Improved 6500) Convertible by @brunswickdiesel
  • Custom exhaust from mantaperformance
  • long range fuel tanks
  • Dual Bay Batteries Engine @centuryyuasabizers
  • Lithium battery revolutionpowersolution cabin
  • Battery management, inverter and solar energy redarc_electronics
  • Replacing brakes, gears and old school spare parts @ terraintamer4wd
  • Wheels… ROH fumes from roh_offroad_wheels
  • Tires… BFG KM3s by bfgoodrichtires
  • Rebuilding the gearbox and gear reduction by @Marks4wd
  • Custom center console and roof consoles from
  • Alpine Halo stereo and Alpineau subwoofers
  • Stratos seats
  • Tyson custom upholstery and steering wheel @prostitchtrimming
  • Pop-up side windows by @3xmcanopies
  • Rear Seat Covers @ msa4x4
  • Insured @ club_4x4
  • Mechanical installation and wiring by @goldfieldsoffroad
  • Redirect links (superior) by @allbarredup4x4
  • Seat storage by navigatorgearau


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