RUX Rides: Vanessa and Josh's Pan-American Pop-top 80 Series
by Chris Fleugel on Sep 07, 2022
In 2023 Vanessa and Josh (@destinedforwild) are embarking on the ultimate roadtrip - the Pan-American Highway. When they set out to build the perfect Pan-American rig, there was no debate - it had to be the 80 Series Land Cruiser, the most legendary offroad vehicle on the planet . Vanessa and Josh didn't stop there. They upped the ante, putting all other roof top tents to shame and kitted their 80 out with a custom CampTEQ roof conversion, making this the most capable (and comfortable) offroad rid to cruise the Pan-American Highway.
Who are you? Where do you live? What makes you happiest?
We’re an adventure-loving, photo-taking, amateur-surfing couple, from Vernon, BC, Canada. Vanessa is a freelance graphic designer and Josh is a barber. We are truly the happiest when we get to be outside and when we are able to travel - exploring the many amazing places on this planet. This past year we decided to hit the road for the Pan-American Highway. As of January we will be taking our land cruiser on the 30,000km journey from our home in Canada down to Ushuaia, Argentina. We plan to take the route near the West Coast, surfing and hiking along the way.
Describe your vehicle: make, model, etc.
A green 1994 80 Series Toyota Land Cruiser with a Campteq roof conversion.
Describe your favourite feature of your vehicle.
Our favourite feature would have to be our roof conversion for sure. After several rigs without headroom it is an absolute game changer to be able to stand inside and go to bed with the simplicity of popping the roof and crawling into bed.
Best location/adventure you've ever had with your vehicle?
At this point it would be a US road trip this summer where we attended Overland Expo, visited 7 states, saw 4 National Parks and got our roof conversion done in Colorado. A highlight of this trip was driving around the canyons in Moab and seeing herds of bison in Yellowstone.
Most epic stuck/breakdown/wrong turn?
So far we have been lucky to avoid any major breakdowns but recently Josh accidentally broke the radiator while replacing some belts in our driveway. Besides that, the worst mishap we experienced was in a gas station parking lot in Montana after visiting Yellowstone National Park on our route back home. After filling up and getting back into the front seats Josh turns the key and the engine doesn't start up. Josh fiddled under the hood for a few minutes and still no sign of starting. After many minutes of cranking the key the engine finally spurs to life. Not wanting to be stranded in the middle of the night we continued driving until we called it quits for the evening in a Walmart parking lot. The issue came up a few more times on our trip back to Canada and ended up just being a fuse relay that took 2 minutes to replace. Long story short we now always carry a back up in the glove box!
Any advice to someone thinking of getting into a custom adventure vehicle?
The simple answer is it will simultaneously be the best and worst decision of your life. A custom adventure vehicle gives you so much freedom on the road and there is something blissful about not having your vehicle limit you from going anywhere you want at all. The downside is a lot of your free time and money goes into tinkering and modifying these vehicles. It somewhat becomes a never ending project but if you don’t mind being covered in grease and rust dust in the process then it’s worth it.