We are long overdue for an update on The NOTFZJ80 Project - though, i also can’t believe that we’ve had it a mere 2 months! We have mostly been in a holding pattern waiting for parts to arrive at this point… and a big palette just showed up from Australia thanks to ARB! Since the last update, we have debadged the Full Tine 4WD, blacked spray painted the T, fully detailed the car (the paint pops again!), powder coated the 5th wheel, removed the running boards, took it on a little roadtrip to Oakley, received Rotopax, picked up the snorkel, front bumper, winch, rooftop tent, and awning, installed the tent… and even got gifted quite the US Army Survival Manual! Phew. We’ve been busy - but there’s still a bit to go. Check out the progress on the next page…
Entries tagged with: cars
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Wow - we’ve been busy on The NOTFZJ80 Project - while it has been a blast getting my hands dirty, and learning a ton on my first project car, it has also meant days flying by and far less internet time… The 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser is coming along nicely. The last time we showed you the NOTFZJ80, we had just picked it up, explored the options, and started cleaning it out! Well a lot has happened since then, so it seemed like a good time for an update! Since then we have… stripped out all of the interior, run off to the eastern sierras, dynamatted, dynalined, pressure washed, put it all back together, installed a CB radio in the ash tray, camo’d the seats, installed big tires, started undoing the gold package, NOTCOT stickered it and more… check out what we’ve been up on on the next page!
We’ve been intrigued ever since Heimplanet (the guys behind the amazing inflatable geodesic tents) dropped hints at a car tent in an email recently… and then THIS popped up on their instagram, which filled me with curiosity to know and see more! Luckily, I ran into this Autoblog piece which features it front and center! So what is it? The press release describes it as “…a newly developed concept called the “Q3 camping tent,” which with a wind load rating of up to 70 km/h is also suitable for harsher weather. The tent structure can be removed from the supplied bag and set up in roughly seven minutes: roll it out, pump it up and the free-standing tent is ready. It can even be fastened to the open rear hatch of the Q3, if necessary.”
Take a peek at the details on the next page ~ all i’m wondering now, is if an inflatable rooftop tent is a NOTFZJ80 possibility…
“GO TO EXTREMES. BRING BACK PROOF.” This ad for Front Runner Outfitters sums up the potential and lifestyle of overlanding wonderfully! And this is just one of may stunning visuals they have. Honestly, one thing that has struck me when researching all things overlanding, both online and in person, is the lack of usability and branding/identity in communications. So many of the websites seem to be surprisingly difficult to navigate, and even when you figure out which products you are interested in, it isn’t the easiest to find exact dimensions/weights, vehicle compatibility, and i’ve run into lots of dead ends following links. This definitely feels like a very forum driven industry when it comes to trying to find reviews and detailed comparisons… So it has been a breath of fresh air to find Front Runner Outfitters.
According to the press page, “Front Runner is a 14 year old South African based company founded by a team of engineers, designers, outdoor enthusiasts and professional off-road drivers.” Their tiki themed booth definitely stood out amongst the Arizona landscape of our first Overland Expo adventure… and their ‘Go to extremes. Bring back proof.’ ads are just fantastic. Additionally, as a newcomer to overlanding, their one-sheet Vehicle Specific Brochures (including a Toyota Land Cruiser 80 one that looks a lot like our white NOTFZJ80) definitely helps me visualize the possibilities MUCH more easily! Take a peek at the next page to see some of the fun goods we found, the FJ80 one sheet, as well as more of their great ads!
I think i’m experiencing Overland Overload? Here at NOTCOT, we’re nothing if not thorough when we get into obsessive research mode! So it should be no surprise that once we watched tons of videos, acquired our NOTFZJ80, and even shared lots of fun design inspiration in overlanding gear (in a week!)… that when i realized Overland Expo was only a 7 hour drive away in Flasgstaff, we had to hop in the car and go see it all in person! And WOW, if you’re at all curious to not only see and touch all things overland in person, but also talk to both brand reps and overlanders who are camped out in their custom rigs… it is the place to go!
On the next page check out everything we found - from more Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, Unimogs, Jeeps, and more of every vintage/color… to every variations of rooftop tents, pop up and pop out kitchens, survival gear, hammock pods, and so many happy dogs…
Life is all about balance ~ and it should be no surprise that the more time we all spend glued to screens (yes, phones count), the more we need the great outdoors! As you may have heard, between our endless 3D printing/soldering/etc. recently, we impulse started the NOTFZJ80 Project. While Shawn has been sharing endless Overlanding videos, forum discussions, and most excitingly — the gear, i’ve been fascinated by creative design solutions we keep finding!
The world of Overlanding is all new to me. Wikipedia defines it as: Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries. I grew up with my first few cars being SUVs. When living in LA, SD, and SF, throwing everything in my car and spontaneously moving or roadtripping was never out of the question. I love the idea of your car being ready to handle anything and take you anywhere and back.
Overlanding fits nicely on the spectrum between luxury hotel jetsetting and backpacking around the world… in that spot that is more luxurious than camping, more self sufficient than glamping, as equipped as an RV, but everything is more efficiently packed, multifunctional, and far more capable to get you through just about anything… it’s the perfect combo of man/machine teaming up to explore the outdoors to reach amazing remote spots. What i didn’t expect was how many fascinating design solutions pop up around the basics of what you can fit in/on/around your 4x4 vehicle, and how much of a fun designer project the process can be! Take a peek on the next page at some of the fun gear/setup possibilities i’ve been learning about while we research it all…
Those following us on the NOTlabs Instagram, have seen that between other craziness we have taken on a project car: a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80! Between regular visits to ICON and seeing more of the TLC side of things… we caught the Land Cruiser bug. It’s no surprise that they just don’t build things like they used to… priorities have changed, and accessibility to grab a toolkit and access/fix just about anything on the go just isn’t quite the same. But while we wanted something fun to play with, we also wanted something safe, comfortable, and functional as well, that made sense for longer roadtrips before offroading/overlanding! So we settled on the ‘95-97 FZJ80, which has a/c, airbags, and other amenities but are some of the last years of solid axles, factory front/rear locking differentials and such. Also, when you see the modifications you can make and even build yourself… it’s like a designer’s dream! (but more on that to come…)
So between the soldering, electronics assembly, 3d prints and more on the _____ project… we scoured craigslist and local listings and watched hours upon hours of overlanding youtube videos… and ended up popping down to Costa Mesa to see about a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80. With 160k miles on it, a single owner, clean title, locking diffs, and having never left southern california… we couldn’t resist! So the adventure begins… check out how it looks and where we’re at so far on the next page!
Ready for a peek inside the world of Jonathan Ward’s ICON and TLC? Well, we’ve been working with him on designs the last few months, and the passion at ICON is contagious, and constantly energizing and inspiring us at NOTlabs! So, we figured it was finally time to share some of the wonders inside the ICON and TLC garage!
ICON has been making stunning matte black retro BRs and FJs that no designer (no matter how uninterested in cars) could miss the last two decades… an upgrade would be an understatement, they build on the originals and improve every tiny detail to become a design masterpiece in both performance and style. The plastic is stripped out, grills are milled out of single pieces of aluminum, fonts are matched for updated logos… no detail is missed! More recently, you’ve probably seen the stunning ICON Thriftmaster truck, with a beautiful ash wood bed floor, as well as the ICON Electric Flyer bike. Additionally, if a sleeper of a vintage car, looking rusted and thoroughly aged, flies past you - you may have found one of the rare ICON Derelicts & Reformers. (Another example is the beast of an ICON Dodge D200 Truck he drove to the Hero’s Chest dinner.)
The other half of ICON is TLC, if you’re confused (like I may have been at first) it actually stands for Toyota Land Cruiser, not ‘tender loving care’. Since 1996, they have been the nation’s leading Land Cruiser Service center. As they say, “Though the Cruiser has evolved into today’s luxurious four-door powerhouse - it is the original adventure-seeking spirited classic Land Cruiser, with its worldwide following that lingers in our minds. That’s where we come in…TLC buys, restores, services, and sells Toyota Land Cruisers exclusively. We are dedicated to their preservation and restoration. Recycling a product that in many ways is simpler, stronger and safer than most produced today.” (I both blame + credit Jonathan Ward for helping Shawn convince me to impulse buy the NOTlabs FZJ80 just after this visit! But more on that shortly…) So take a peek inside the ICON and TLC garage on the next page!
The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen (short for Geländewagen aka cross country vehicle) is a design icon in its own right. Love it or hate it, that shape is unmistakeable, and has definitely has quite a history. It even has a fascinating Wikipedia page - apparently it was originally created as a military vehicle in the early 70s and the first civilian version emerged in 1979. And it’s the “longest produced Mercedes-Benz in Daimler’s history, with a span of 32 years. Only the UNIMOG beats it.” Amazing right? And unlike most other vehicles, the general body shape and style has changed minimally! And to take the G-Wagen to the next level?
The nice folks at Mercedes loaned us the stunningly powerful Mercedes-AMG G63 all murdered out in matte black down to the wheels… complete with a diamond quilted black leather interior. First things first - yes, the monstrous and powerful G63 is totally absurd… it’s faster than most sports cars, sounds like a beast (we scared many a mini), and it’s unlikely many will ever explore proper 4x4 terrains… BUT, that being said, it is so much fun. Take a peek at our adventures with the G63 as well as fun details with it on the next page… it’s one of the first press cars i’ve been missing since it got picked up!
When first approached about Kylie Minogue’s Sexercize, I was skeptical at best… as I learned about the special music video by Roman Coppola, Chandelier Creative, and Maserati… my curiosity got piqued. At first glance, this bizarre retro car porn of a film is just that… until you see the original it’s an homage to - the ‘65 piece ‘Kustom Kar Kommandos’ by Kenneth Anger… and to peel back the layers even further, Chandelier Creative and Maserati further indulged my curiosity with a loaner Maserati Ghibli S Q4 and a behind the scenes peek at how much they transformed the Ghibli for the video - and wow! What a process!
To be completely honest, the more i played with the Maserati Ghibli S Q4 all week, the more curious i got as to how they turned the car i was in into the stunner in the video! From the exterior, the front is reminiscent of the Maserati curves i love, and the rear is less recognizable without their iconic triton. As for what’s under the hood - it’s a cute “efficient 3 litre Twin Turbo V6 that delivers a peak of 410 horsepower.” Ultimately the Ghibli feels like your gateway Maserati which gives you a taste of the brand, while leaving you lusting for the roar of the Maserati Granturismo MC Stradale and its 4.7L V8. When you watch the Sexercize video, you can’t help but get pulled in by the mesmerizing wheels, the metallic paint job, dayglo lighting, and the muscle car styled blower coming through the hood… Take a peek on the next page to see the Maserati Ghibli S Q4 in real life and how it was transformed into the Sexercize muscle car!
The Highland Park Hero’s Chest Dinner was on Thursday night, and it has possibly moved up to one of the most inspiring evenings… of my life… so far! At precisely 7pm, 10 designers/creatives were invited into the gate of Magnus Walker’s Urban Outlaw Garage in Downtown LA. As we mingled over cocktails, the group quickly found familiar faces, and those they didn’t know personally, they definitely knew of… and more often than not the admiration was mutual. From the men behind Baxter of California and Icon 4x4, to Oakley and BasecampX… from Triple Aught Design (and new secret project, Prometheus Design Werx) to Acquire and KILLSPENCER and Johnnyswim… and more! As giddy as I was to see each of these folks, it was inspiring to see how thrilled they were to see one another! It was beyond an honor to be able to sneak in as one of the few women amongst these inspiring men. Over Highland Park Mint Juleps, the mingling filled with anticipation and you could hear the awe and cameras clicking as soon as the garage door opened to unveil Magnus’ collection of vintage racing Porsche 911s… and then up to dinner… which includes tastes of a Highland Park Whiskey from 1968! Also Show & Tell was mandatory ~ “Please bring an item of yours that says a little about you - something that you can’t live without.” See it all on the next page…
Just home from epic road trip holiday adventures from the beach, across the city, offroading through the desert, up into the mountains to find the snow and back ~ truly testing the Audi 2014 Q7 TDI. We found ourselves heading from CA - NV - AZ - UT and back again! Also had fun checking out the Jordanelle Reservoir, Olympic Trials, and making time lapse videos of the drive.
Here’s the latest from Shawn Sims, our automotive loving NOTlabs Director! He just got back from adventures with Mercedes-AMG in the desert. We spend 2 days on the tracks of Willow Springs with 41 AMGs… doing 150mph in the SLS black series, exploring the desert with the G63, peeking at the late night garage repairs, and more!
Here’s the latest from Shawn Sims, our automotive loving NOTlabs Director! He just got back from adventures with Mercedes-AMG in the desert. A pair of Mercedes-AMG C63 507 editions (sedan vs coupé) donut duel in the California desert during the Best of AMG at Willow Springs.
This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect. For this next Transit Connect adventure, I was sadly stuck at home on jury duty, so Shawn Sims hopped out to NYC to join the folks at Café Grumpy as they did super early morning deliveries. See our first adventure with the Butler Blue Mobile Transit Connect here.
Café Grumpy was founded in 2005 (just like NOTCOT!) with a passion for quality coffee and it has been amazing seeing how they’ve grown over the years. With the opening of the latest (5th!) Café Grumpy in NYC last week, we knew we had to head over and check it out when we heard they too use a Ford Transit Connect to deliver their coffee and pastries! Beyond their cafes, they also have the Café Grumpy Roastery, where they hand-roast small batches of specialty-grade coffee on a restored vintage Probat, and the Café Grumpy Bakery, where they bake their pastries and other deliciousness! And all of this goodness gets transported in their Ford Transit Connect to the cafes… with the launch of the latest cafe in the Fashion District in NYC and more to come, Caroline told us that she’s thinking about figuring out custom shelves (which the Transit Connect is ideal for) to better optimize the space for their deliveries. So we tagged along for their bakery and roastery deliveries to see what their process is like and what their dream Ford Transit Connect set up might be… as well as tasting some delicious coffee, pastries, and checking out the adorable stuffed grumpy beans! Check out our adventures with Cafe Grumpy on the next page!
This post is by our LA based, NOTlabs running, automotive loving, Shawn Sims! He just spent the day with Ford and came back with quite the grin on his face…
When Ford reached out to us and asked if we would be up for checking out the new Fiesta ST and their Ford Racing X Games rallycross team I did not expect to take a ride in the fastest machine I have ever been in. The first thing I noticed when I arrived were all the mechanics and support teams running around preping the cars, changing tires, pumping race fuel, and crawling under the cars. I immediately realized I was in for something intense. I signed all the necessary paperwork, grabbed my helmet, and tried to mentally prepare for the g-forces to come. This 600HP 4 wheel-drive race car is not the Fiesta show room model that you can walk in and test drive. It does 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds! It is a fully custom built championship winning car and behind the wheel was Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen, a Finnish rallycross champion, 3 times X games medalist, and arguably one of the most most aggressive rallycross drivers out there. I climb through the roll cage and one of the crew members hooks up my 4 point harness. We chat for a second before he asks me how hard he should drive and I instantly respond saying “full race speed!” Before I know it we are doing almost 100mph with a turn rapidly approaching and he is not slowing down at all. He flicks the wheel and we go sideways, back on the gas, another turn, hard braking just before we go sideways again around the hairpin. At this point my face is melting and my internal organs are moving all around. We are going through turns sideways and only inches from the barricade. The braking is just as impressive as the acceleration, giving you no relief from the g-forces. When it was over it took me a few seconds, but I realized that driving (or riding) like that is truly as amazing as I have always imagined. The human-machine connection I experienced on that track was sublime.
Check out videos and pictures of the adventure, cars, design details, and their tool boxes on the next page.
It’s been a crazy summer of trying new things, which has inevitably lead to more unexpected travel, surprise encounters, and non-stop summer inspiration. Well, adding to the list of firsts ~ Toyota just brought me out to Farmington, PA for the last two days to play with the new 2014 Tundra, which has meant: my first time shooting a shotgun (and getting a taste of “golf with a shotgun”) as well as my first time properly playing with trucks (towing large things and off-roading in lots of water!)… So fun, so exhausting, and while somethings are embargo’d till next week, i did get the ok to share the experiences and design details with you now! It is definitely more angular and more aggressive visually… and designed right in socal at Calty!
So, take a peek on the next page to see my adventures at the bizarrely epic Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (which has everything from shooting, fly fishing, golf, spa, LIONS, airstrip, casino, classic car collection, ziplines, dog sledding, and so much more…) to our quick visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob, to off-roading and exploring with the new 2014 Tundra, as well as a few of my favorite details!
This year Jaguar UK teamed up with RCA to create a design challenge for students of both the RCA’s automobile and textiles courses. Of the 9 group entries, the winning design on show in the Farmiloe building alongside the new F-TYPE comes from RCA students, Ewan Gallimore and Claire Miller. There’s some making imagery over at Carscoops. See more pictures of their sculpture at Clerkenwell on the next page!