Growing up in Venezuela, Carlos J Osorio was a big fan of Toyota Land Cruisers – their capabilities promised incredible adventure and their reliability made all paths seem possible.
“The majority of cars that people drive off-road in Venezuela are Toyotas. A couple of my friends would take trips to the beach where some of the terrain was not accessible vehicles that weren’t capable of crossing water or soft, deep sand.”
Years passed, Carlos immigrated to the United States, and the 4×4 adventures of his upbringing stayed in the rearview.
“My passion for overlanding didn’t die, but vehicles were not really available to me at that time.”
It wasn’t until a chance encounter on a family trip to Costa Rica that Carlos was reunited with his favorite pastime.
“A surprise for me, my wife’s grandfather had a blue 1971 FJ40 just parked outside the house. I wish I could have seen the expression on my face when I first saw it. Pure joy!”
Turns out, Carlos wasn’t the only one in the family who was passionate about Land Cruisers.
“Grandpa told me all about his experience with the Land Cruiser. For him, the truck served a utilitarian purpose; he used it to pick coffee on the farm.”
Though his use of the vehicle was for work and not play, Grandpa was no less passionate about the truck and showed Carlos the completely restored interior, exterior, and all the meaningful details. Then, he extended an unexpected invitation.
“Grandpa said, ‘Come on, drive me to the supermarket.’ I was wondering what was going on… the only people that had driven that FJ was Grandpa and his personal driver. No one in the family had ever driven this car and he is letting me drive it?! Literally, the entire family came out of the house to watch me.”
The universe has a strange way, for it was on a trip to the grocery store that Carlos reinvigorated his lifelong passion for Land Cruisers.
“Talk about excitement and adrenaline running through your body… no power steering and only four gears!”
That day, Carlos committed to owning a Land Cruiser of his own. It took saving and searching, more saving, and more searching but eventually the stars aligned.
“Three and a half years ago, I found a 1997 40th Anniversary Land Cruiser. It had one owner and zero modifications; the gentleman I bought it from only used it for church and the supermarket. At long last, I felt like I won the lotto!”
Carlos loved the way the new-to-him Land Cruiser looked in its original state but careful mods were needed to protect and enable the vehicle for off-road use.
“Like all of us tend to feel in the off-road and overlanding world, something was just missing. Well, a lot was missing.”
Carlos had been doing research for years surrounding which products to best suit traveling, off-road capabilities, etc. But he wanted to keep the classic look as well.
“There was only one brand that got my attention from day one, the same way I looked at that Land Cruiser in my younger days.” That brand was ARB. “Why? [Because of] its durability, character, engineering, and style. You can trust in their products … they’re a company that has been in the industry for a long time.” ARB’s engineering, the hours of research and development for every specific vehicle the company completes to make, “just perfection. That got me 100% sold to purchase everything else from ARB.”
The first item Carlos purchased for his Cruiser was an ARB front bumper. He was very impressed with its quality: the weld points, how it was painted, along with the material.
Carlos was like a kid at Christmas during the build.
“The same day I started removing my OEM bumper, to my surprise, I was able to install the ARB front bumper. It actually took me longer to remove the original one than actually putting the ARB one on. It was a perfect fit into the frame and took me just 30 minutes to finish the job.”
The second item Carlos bought from ARB was a 37 Quart Classic series ARB Fridge to replace a cooler. “Halfway on a trip from Florida to North Carolina we stopped at a rest area and realized our drinks and food were not cold enough.” After the trip, deciding on an ARB fridge and transit bag was easy! Now their food and drinks stay at 29 degrees no matter where they are or how high the temperature is outside.
Not only did the new fridge freezer save the day on trips, Carlos leaned on it to keep food during Hurricane Dorian.
“We didn’t have power for a couple of days, but we just connected the fridge to the generator and had fresh, cold, and healthy food to eat as long as we needed!”
His personal opinion is that everyone should have one. “You never know when a bad situation is going to happen, so you have to be prepared.”
With more trips under his belt and even more adventure planned, Carlos has been carefully filling out his dream rig with just-right gear to chase his passion for years and years to come.