Getaway Machine

This 2L Amarok has been built-up with reliability and back-to-basics camping in mind.

VEHICLES Custom VW Amarok

WORDS AND IMAGES BY HARRY TEMPLE

THE OWNER
Born and raised in south-east Queensland, Adam’s childhood consisted of family trips along the Condamine River and holidays on Fraser Island. Inheriting the camping bug from his parents, Adam, and his wife Lisa, intend to pass it onto their three children as well. Fresh out of school, Adam decided he wanted to drive heavy haulage trucks, often carting liquid gold up to the masses in Darwin. During that gig, he racked considerable kays through NT and fell in love with the scenery. Now a manager at a local Basalt quarry south west of Toowoomba, he takes an annual fishing trip up to the Limmen Bight River NT every year.  

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THE VEHICLE
Initially unsure what vehicle they would choose to replace Lisa’s HSV Clubsport, they looked at a couple of dual-cab options, including Ford Ranger. Adam already has a 79 series, but it’s agricultural feel and lack of comfort meant Lisa refused to go anywhere in it. With high-quality, practical luxury and interior space in both the front and rear seats high on their list, they landed on the 2015 Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label, which they picked up from Wippels Volkswagen in Toowoomba.

In the four years since, the travelling family has clocked up nearly 60,000km, about half of which was towing their 23ft Royal Flair caravan; they found the Amarok towed the home-on-wheels better than their 4.5L V8 LandCruiser. Adam puts that down to the equally wide (and equal) wheel track and eight-speed auto box in the Amarok.

Times change, and the family wanted to return to its bush-camping roots and so sold off the van and startied scoping out options to move to a jack-off style tray and canopy to retain campsite flexibility on longer trips to Fraser and Up North. After scouting some tray and canopy outfitters, all of which wanted to sell them their off-the-shelf designs rather than listen to what Adam actually wanted, he gave the job to Will from Superior Customs in Toowoomba. The work doesn’t come cheap, but heck, just one look at the back of the Amarok you can see that it’s worth it.

ABOVE All the suspension work was done after the canopy went on, just to make sure it suited the extra weight // BELOW The factory bash plate is up to the task as Adam tells me it has taken multiple hits and keeps coming back for more

BELOW Both the mudguards and toolboxes are alloy and they all bolt on so they can be easily replaced if they have a disagreement with a tree or kangaroo

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BELOW The Amarok has a factory rear locker, as well as the standard traction control and hill descent which all work really well. Between the three, it’s hard to put a foot wrong off road as it does it all for you

BELOW After having a Fuel Manager on his 79 since new, he hasn’t done any injectors or a pump like the ones on the work site, which have all had at least one set of injectors. That made the decision when it came to the Amarok

ABOVE The front suspension is made up of King springs and Bilstein shocks. The Tough Dog leaves in the back are the constant 500kg variety and a subsequent GVM upgrade pushes the total out to a handy 3.4T

After already replacing the factory bumper once after it was destroyed in a collision with a couple doing a runner from a petrol station, Adam decided it was time to give the front-end a little more protection and threw on a colour-coded ARB Sahara bar. While there is no winch in the bar yet, there are a set of Lightforce HTX’s mounted on top, which work so well that they have stopped using the HID section between Toowoomba and home for fear of burning out other driver’s retinas. Disappointed to find a lack of choice for aftermarket recovery points for the Sahara bar, they got a set from Net4x4 in Victoria. After some cutting and fitting, these four-bolt recovery points offer peace of mind and are less likely to sheer clean off the bar when put through their paces.

Inside the cab, the foam-backed Supafit seat covers keep mud and dust away from the leather seats. Tucked under the dash, a GME TX3520 handles comms and on top of the dash a Hema HX-1 takes care of navigation. With those small additions, Adam says it is now possible for the family to do big days behind the wheel. Their largest being 1670km from Ballarat to Toowoomba in a single day, all in comfort and style in the Amaroks well-thought-out interior

The steel tray and alloy canopy from Superior Customs is the centerpiece of the Amarok. Designed exactly to suit their specifications, the passenger side houses a 60L Engel Fridge on a Clearview drop down slide and custom drawer setup from Superior. Underneath the big drawer is the swing out table and pull out utensil holder. On top, the smaller plastic drawers are from Bunnings, and are cheap to replace if they want to change up their arrangement or if they crack over the corrugations. The electrical system, comprised of a 120-amp-hour battery and Redarc BC-DC charger, fuse panel, 12V outlets and much more is contained on the same side. Around on the driver’s side of the canopy, they have kept the entire length virtually empty (apart from a nifty retractable hose and hidden water tank and pump) to house all their clothes and camping gear that they don’t want to put on the roof.

Up on the roof, a 160W solar panel mounted to the rack provides additional juice to the canopy, as well as an extra spot to mount swags and a gazebo when they do longer trips. Since the Darche 270 Awning went on, Adam says setting up camp in adverse conditions has never been quicker or easier.

THE MODIFICATIONS
In the pursuit of reliability, Adam has opted to keep the Amarok as free from aftermarket bolt-ons as possible. No shiny new intercooler or turbochargers to see here, just well thought out mods to get the most from the motor, without impacting reliability. A fuel manager keeps the fuel system free from contaminants and the four-cylinder engine scored a remap from Diesel Tune in Dalby to get the four-pot singing. Being a Dark Label variant means black accented rims, black sidesteps, black roll bar, leather interior, heated seats and roof racks from the factory. Adam has found the factory alloys, sidesteps and roof racks to be well and truly up to the task and hasn’t upgraded them as of yet.

BELOW The 80L factory tank is supplemented by an auxiliary tank, which is hidden between the headboard and cab, adding another 50L. All up, they get around 1100km from 130L of fuel. That’s impressive!

BELOW The Travel Buddy is one of their favourite modifications, purely for the convenience of cooking on the road

ABOVE Custom number plates are a nice touch, if only they didn’t cost so much down here in NSW 

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think you’d have to agree the majority of Amaroks we pass by on our travels have nothing more than a bull bar and some roof racks, so it’s refreshing to see someone realising the potential of the Volkswagen Amarok as a long distance, comfortable tourer.

VEHICLES Custom VW Amarok

Getaway Machine

This 2L Amarok has been built-up with reliability and back-to-basics camping in mind.

WORDS AND IMAGES BY HARRY TEMPLE

THE OWNER
Born and raised in south-east Queensland, Adam’s childhood consisted of family trips along the Condamine River and holidays on Fraser Island. Inheriting the camping bug from his parents, Adam, and his wife Lisa, intend to pass it onto their three children as well. Fresh out of school, Adam decided he wanted to drive heavy haulage trucks, often carting liquid gold up to the masses in Darwin. During that gig, he racked considerable kays through NT and fell in love with the scenery. Now a manager at a local Basalt quarry south west of Toowoomba, he takes an annual fishing trip up to the Limmen Bight River NT every year.  

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

THE VEHICLE
Initially unsure what vehicle they would choose to replace Lisa’s HSV Clubsport, they looked at a couple of dual-cab options, including Ford Ranger. Adam already has a 79 series, but it’s agricultural feel and lack of comfort meant Lisa refused to go anywhere in it. With high-quality, practical luxury and interior space in both the front and rear seats high on their list, they landed on the 2015 Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label, which they picked up from Wippels Volkswagen in Toowoomba.

In the four years since, the travelling family has clocked up nearly 60,000km, about half of which was towing their 23ft Royal Flair caravan; they found the Amarok towed the home-on-wheels better than their 4.5L V8 LandCruiser. Adam puts that down to the equally wide (and equal) wheel track and eight-speed auto box in the Amarok.

Times change, and the family wanted to return to its bush-camping roots and so sold off the van and startied scoping out options to move to a jack-off style tray and canopy to retain campsite flexibility on longer trips to Fraser and Up North. After scouting some tray and canopy outfitters, all of which wanted to sell them their off-the-shelf designs rather than listen to what Adam actually wanted, he gave the job to Will from Superior Customs in Toowoomba. The work doesn’t come cheap, but heck, just one look at the back of the Amarok you can see that it’s worth it.

ABOVE All the suspension work was done after the canopy went on, just to make sure it suited the extra weight // BELOW The factory bash plate is up to the task as Adam tells me it has taken multiple hits and keeps coming back for more

BELOW Both the mudguards and toolboxes are alloy and they all bolt on so they can be easily replaced if they have a disagreement with a tree or kangaroo

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

THE MODIFICATIONS
In the pursuit of reliability, Adam has opted to keep the Amarok as free from aftermarket bolt-ons as possible. No shiny new intercooler or turbochargers to see here, just well thought out mods to get the most from the motor, without impacting reliability. A fuel manager keeps the fuel system free from contaminants and the four-cylinder engine scored a remap from Diesel Tune in Dalby to get the four-pot singing. Being a Dark Label variant means black accented rims, black sidesteps, black roll bar, leather interior, heated seats and roof racks from the factory. Adam has found the factory alloys, sidesteps and roof racks to be well and truly up to the task and hasn’t upgraded them as of yet.

BELOW The Travel Buddy is one of their favourite modifications, purely for the convenience of cooking on the road

ABOVE The front suspension is made up of King springs and Bilstein shocks. The Tough Dog leaves in the back are the constant 500kg variety and a subsequent GVM upgrade pushes the total out to a handy 3.4T

BELOW The 80L factory tank is supplemented by an auxiliary tank, which is hidden between the headboard and cab, adding another 50L. All up, they get around 1100km from 130L of fuel. That’s impressive!

BELOW The Amarok has a factory rear locker, as well as the standard traction control and hill descent which all work really well. Between the three, it’s hard to put a foot wrong off road as it does it all for you

ABOVE Custom number plates are a nice touch, if only they didn’t cost so much down here in NSW 

BELOW After having a Fuel Manager on his 79 since new, he hasn’t done any injectors or a pump like the ones on the work site, which have all had at least one set of injectors. That made the decision when it came to the Amarok

After already replacing the factory bumper once after it was destroyed in a collision with a couple doing a runner from a petrol station, Adam decided it was time to give the front-end a little more protection and threw on a colour-coded ARB Sahara bar. While there is no winch in the bar yet, there are a set of Lightforce HTX’s mounted on top, which work so well that they have stopped using the HID section between Toowoomba and home for fear of burning out other driver’s retinas. Disappointed to find a lack of choice for aftermarket recovery points for the Sahara bar, they got a set from Net4x4 in Victoria. After some cutting and fitting, these four-bolt recovery points offer peace of mind and are less likely to sheer clean off the bar when put through their paces.

Inside the cab, the foam-backed Supafit seat covers keep mud and dust away from the leather seats. Tucked under the dash, a GME TX3520 handles comms and on top of the dash a Hema HX-1 takes care of navigation. With those small additions, Adam says it is now possible for the family to do big days behind the wheel. Their largest being 1670km from Ballarat to Toowoomba in a single day, all in comfort and style in the Amaroks well-thought-out interior

The steel tray and alloy canopy from Superior Customs is the centerpiece of the Amarok. Designed exactly to suit their specifications, the passenger side houses a 60L Engel Fridge on a Clearview drop down slide and custom drawer setup from Superior. Underneath the big drawer is the swing out table and pull out utensil holder. On top, the smaller plastic drawers are from Bunnings, and are cheap to replace if they want to change up their arrangement or if they crack over the corrugations. The electrical system, comprised of a 120-amp-hour battery and Redarc BC-DC charger, fuse panel, 12V outlets and much more is contained on the same side. Around on the driver’s side of the canopy, they have kept the entire length virtually empty (apart from a nifty retractable hose and hidden water tank and pump) to house all their clothes and camping gear that they don’t want to put on the roof.

Up on the roof, a 160W solar panel mounted to the rack provides additional juice to the canopy, as well as an extra spot to mount swags and a gazebo when they do longer trips. Since the Darche 270 Awning went on, Adam says setting up camp in adverse conditions has never been quicker or easier.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I think you’d have to agree the majority of Amaroks we pass by on our travels have nothing more than a bull bar and some roof racks, so it’s refreshing to see someone realising the potential of the Volkswagen Amarok as a long distance, comfortable tourer.

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