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Toyota World Runners’ Land Cruiser Chinook :: Feature Vehicle

It is simply astounding what can be achieved when you combine talent with motivation, hard work, and creativity. Everyone loves the old Toyota Chinook, but we all know that the old, stock vehicle has its limitations. Likewise, we all have a healthy respect for the 80-Series Land Cruiser but understand that the vehicle, too, has limitations for overland travel. If only there were a way to combine the best of both. Well, that is precisely what Matthew Yeoman and Stacey Tourout have done, mounting the body of a Chinook on the frame and running gear of a Land Cruiser, creating a highly practical and desirable vehicle, aka the world’s first Land Cruiser Chinook. We took a look behind the scenes at the creation of this unique overlanding machine.

Land Cruiser Chinook

“Have you ever immersed yourself so deeply into watching other people’s dreams coming true that you start to feel a tickle in the pit of your stomach? We sure did. Matthew and I would watch movies, TV shows, and documentaries. Everything connected to stories wrapped around a dream. If these strangers could go to lengths, climb mountains, stretch themselves so thin just to accomplish their form of a dream, then what were we waiting for?”

says Stacey.

Land Cruiser Chinook

Like many individuals, Canadians Matthew and Stacey pondered these questions daily, wondering why they were hesitating to pursue the lives they daydreamed about so very often. Eventually, they reached a point where they ran out of excuses and decided to take a leap of faith. Stacey left her job in forestry, fully committing herself to build a groundbreaking rig that could bring their dreams to life. Meanwhile, Matthew continued working online while joining her on this extraordinary journey to create the world’s first Land Cruiser Chinook. They knew it wouldn’t be an easy feat, but they were determined to make it worthwhile.

Fully committed to their project, Matthew and Stacey knew that if they split their focus between their other jobs, it would take them a year or more to complete the build. However, they wanted their adventure vehicle to hit the road within a few months. Therefore, they devoted all their efforts to the project, fully aware that committing to something they had little knowledge about was the hardest and easiest decision they had ever made.

Land Cruiser Chinook

Initially, their ambition became the driving force behind the idea of starting a YouTube channel. Inspired by their love for Toyotas, the great outdoors, and conquering adversity, they believed others would enjoy watching their journey unfold. They began by documenting their first adventure with the Yeti, a second-generation rock crawler/overland hybrid rig, relying on Matthew’s filmmaking skills and their growing confidence in creating captivating content. Their community began to expand as they shared their experiences and improved the quality of their videos.

Land Cruiser Chinook

Supported mainly by strangers who became fans of their work, Matthew and Stacey challenged themselves to post one video per week. They treated their adventures as a job, bringing their viewers along through film. When they made their first dollar from YouTube, it dawned on them that they were genuinely doing it—they were becoming full-time content creators.

ToyotaWorldRunners Chinook

The dream vehicle they eventually set their sights on was a 1976 Toyota Chinook camper that they could convert into a 4×4 Overlander. Their initial plan was to drive the Pan-American Highway in 2020 using their Yeti truck, equipped with a Wilderness camper. However, their plans were put on hold due to the unexpected turn of events caused by the pandemic. This led Matthew to reconsider his dream of a 4×4 swapping a Chinook, and they eventually found a neglected 1976 Chinook on a woman’s property. Convinced that they would be the ideal owners, they bought the Chinook with the intention of making it 4×4 and building it for the Pan-American journey.

Land Cruiser Chinook

The couple fell in love with the Toyota Chinook for several reasons. The lightweight and durable fiberglass camper stood out as a practical choice, especially considering Latin America’s harsh weather conditions. Moreover, they found the truck’s design to be one of the most appealing among Toyota’s lineup. The Chinook struck the perfect balance between offering a comfortable living space and the agility needed for off-road travel once it was 4WD. Its aesthetic appeal was also undeniable, making it an irresistible choice for Matthew and Stacey. The design of their unique rig evolved naturally, with inspiration coming from friends and their desire to undertake a one-of-a-kind project. Initially, they had considered using 80-Series axles instead of the more common mini truck axles or the originally planned 60-Series axles and leaf springs, all thanks to a friend’s suggestion. This decision led them ultimately to the purchase of a rolled 80 Series. While the Chinook’s frame was in excellent condition, it couldn’t match the robustness and 4×4 pedigree of the Land Cruiser 80, making it the perfect fit for their project.

Original Toyota Chinook

Land Cruiser Chinook

After acquiring the Chinook for $4,800, they embarked on a journey of modifications. With an out-of-pocket cost of approximately $15,000, which included purchasing the FZJ80 series Land Cruiser chassis and the necessary engine, they poured their hearts and souls into the build. Their ambitious endeavor was only possible with the sponsorship and support from Jason at westcanoverland.com, who provided them with shop space, tools, and expertise. Matthew also took the opportunity to learn CAD and the CNC plasma table to fabricate custom parts. Many other individuals, companies, and brands also contributed their time, products, and gear to support the build.

Toyota Chinook

Land Cruiser Chinook

The build process proved an immense undertaking, especially considering it was their first build together. While Matthew had some prior experience with welding and building parts, it was nothing compared to the monumental task they were about to face. They quickly realized that the challenges they initially anticipated, such as mounting the Chinook to the 80 Series or wiring the engine, were not as challenging to overcome as they had feared. In just three days, they successfully fabricated and mounted the body mounts, and with the help of friends, they wired the engine in a day. However, other tasks, such as building a custom transmission tunnel, seat brackets, track bars, and steering arms proved to be time-consuming. Their days became longer, ranging from 12 to 17 hours, as they balanced the build with filming videos. Amid the stress and time constraints, they developed a new diet, switching from three square meals to breakfast beers, a sandwich for lunch, and more beers for dinner. Nevertheless, they relished the challenge of overcoming obstacles together and acquiring new skills during the 100-day build.

Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Land Cruiser Chinook interior Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Land Cruiser Chinook interior Land Cruiser Chinook interior Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Since embarking on their first shakedown trip with the newly built rig, Matthew and Stacey have made various modifications to enhance their experience on the road. They re-geared the vehicle to 4.88s, installed a rear Panhard correction kit, fixed the caster, addressed a 4WD issue (which turned out to be a C-clip), and made several other upgrades. Their improvements include

  • New wheels and tires;
  • KC fog lights;
  • A Roam 270-degree awning;
  • Repaired front fenders at a body shop in Baja.

Despite encountering some repairs and maintenance issues along the way, Matthew and Stacey haven’t experienced any significant breakdowns or failures that left them stranded, a testament to their mechanical ability. They have diligently addressed any minor setbacks, recognizing that many parts on their truck are nearly five decades old. From fixing a loose steering column bushing at a gas station to resolving overheating issues and replacing the fan clutch, they have embraced these challenges as part of the adventure.

Land Cruiser Chinook tires

What truly sets their camper apart is not only its status as the world’s first Land Cruiser Chinook but also its captivating design. The wide track stance, small ’70’s Hilux cab with four round headlights, and the custom Westcan front bumper that perfectly matches the grille lines contribute to its unique vintage appeal (we would love to see some wide wheels arches bolted on to protect the precious body from flying rocks and stones, and the equally precious couple from mud and filthy water).

Land Cruiser Chinook

Naming their Chinook proved challenging, but they eventually settled on the name “Sunday.” The decision was inspired by a humorous conversation they had while driving behind a built Tacoma with the license plate “Tuesday.” Jokingly considering naming their vehicle after each day of the week, they settled on Sunday, as it represented their favorite day, a day for leisurely drives, and a day often associated with relaxation and enjoyment.

Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Land Cruiser Chinook interior Land Cruiser Chinook interior

Their travels have taken them through various states in the Midwest, with extended periods in Arizona and the Eastern Sierra Nevada. They also embarked on a six-week tour of Baja, Mexico, with their journey still ongoing at the time of writing.

Land Cruiser Chinook

As for their future travel plans, Matthew and Stacey intend to continue their journey along the Pan-American Highway, heading toward Argentina. While they aspire to circumnavigate both continents, they remain open to the possibilities and uncertainties that lie ahead. Their bucket list includes exploring West Africa, Mongolia, and the Silk Road, and discovering more of their home province, British Columbia.

Land Cruiser Chinook

Reflecting on their experience, Matthew and Stacey wouldn’t change much about their vehicle’s specifications. It meets their needs perfectly, providing a comfortable living space, off-road capability, and even a production studio. However, given the chance, they would have allocated more time for the build and thorough testing. Despite this, they are content with the outcome and believe that what matters most is their rig’s happiness, comfort, and functionality. Adjustable shocks and sway bar disconnects are among the desired future upgrades they have in mind.

Land Cruiser Chinook

Land Cruiser Chinook Specifications

  • 1976 Toyota Chinook / Land Cruiser 80 Series


  • 3.4 5VZ-FE
  • + R150F Transmission
  • Chain drive T-case

Suspension and drive

  • Custom crossmember
  • Custom driveshafts
  • New PowerStop calipers, rotors, Xtreme pads
  • All new brake lines
  • Wilwood manual proportioning valve
  • Full rebuild
  • RCV axles & birfields
  • 4.88 nitro gears
  • Factory E-locker
  • Dobinsons C59-220V lift coils
  • Bilstein 5100 shocks
  • Custom panhard bar
  • Sway bar drop bracket
  • Dobinsons 3* caster correction bushings
  • Dobinsons C59-333 lift coils
  • Panhard correction kit
  • Sway bar end link extensions


  • 3-stage on-demand water system
  • Custom counter and cabinets
  • Two-burner stove
  • 12v Fridge Freezer
  • Awesome vibe


  • Custom Westcan bumpers and sliders
  • Fold down outdoor kitchen
  • Warn VR10s winch
  • KC Flex Era 3 lights (5)






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Read more: Interview with Makoventure

Graeme Bell is an author and explorer who has dedicated his life to traveling the planet by land, seeking adventure and unique experiences. Together with his wife and two children, Graeme has spent the last decade living permanently on the road in a self-built Land Rover based camper. They have explored 27 African countries (including West Africa), circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska, which was followed by an exploration of Europe and Western Asia before returning to explore the Americas. Graeme is the Senior Editor 4WD for Expedition Portal, a member of the Explorers Club, the author of six books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015. You can follow Graeme's adventures across the globe on Instagram at graeme.r.bell