• Jacobus Vermeulen purchased a Lexus LX570 in 2020 and went about modifying it.
• The SUV is fitted with several aftermarket parts that Vermeulen has been praised for.
• Vermeulen says he wants to show that the LX570 is more than a pavement hopper.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24
Jacobus Vermeulen is a self-confessed off-road fanatic. On weekends, he passes time on the Atlantis Dunes or off-road tracks, and puts his modified Lexus LX570 through its paces any chance he gets. Born and bred in Cape Town, Vermeulen has always loved the outdoors and never missed an opportunity to explore with family and friends. Things took a turn for the better when he realised the wonders of off-roading, and so began plans to one day own his dream machine.
But why the LX570, though? Well, for Vermeulen, it was an easy decision to opt for this vehicle. As is common knowledge, this Lexus is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, which, as any petrol head will tell you, is one of the finest all-terrain vehicles around. However, in typical Lexus fashion, it boasts several improved luxury touches over the Toyota and is fitted with a massive 5.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine.
Vermeulen says that he was drawn to the LX570's understated demeanour and knew that it was exactly what he wanted: "This vehicle, although it has the same capabilities and underpinnings as a Land Cruiser 200, is mainly seen at malls and school runs, but never on 4x4 tracks or out in the wild. I wanted to change that."
Ringing in the changes
After acquiring the SUV during lockdown in 2020, Vermeulen visited several aftermarket shops as soon as lockdown regulations allowed. He was met with plenty of hesitation and some even questioning why he'd want to take such a "fancy car" off-road. Luckily, though, it wasn't long before several aftermarket companies came to the fore and got on board for this unique project.
Vermeulen notes before sharing the detail: "The challenge with the Lexus is that no one has really done something like this, and I believe this is the first Lexus LX570 that has been customised to tackle serious terrain and look the part."
The front and rear bumpers, and the rock sliders, for example, are designed and built from scratch and made out of aluminium to save weight. So impressive was the work done that Vermeulen received compliments from the USA and Dubai! Since Lexus did not have a snorkel in its parts bin, Vermeulen had one from a Land Cruiser 200 fitted. A set of BF Goodrich K02 all-terrain tyres with a pressure monitoring system is wrapped around Dirty Life rims, and a built-in ARB air compressor is fitted. Other features on the LX570 include a custom-made roof rack, a wood basket for the spare wheel, storage for the high lift jack and recovery boards, and mounts for a spade and/or axe.
And the engine? Well, it is linked to a full-custom twin-exhaust system that runs from the manifold.
"Lexus built this SUV to be able to do hundreds of thousands of km without having to overhaul the engine. And in the US, they've been nominated the most reliable car brand for the last nine years. With those credentials, it was easy to make a choice to use a Lexus. And to bring it home, off-road racing legend Giniel de Villiers drove a Lexus LX570 in 2012."
Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have hampered any plans and ambitions Vermeulen might have had, but the off-roader is already plotting his moves for when things return to normal. He has already used opportunities to explore the Western Cape - his home province - and is readying to explore other parts of South Africa as soon as it's safe to do so.
But just South Africa? Oh no, Vermeulen is planning to cross-border trips with his unique Lexus LX570, saying: "I really want to make a trip through Namibia and Botswana. I think any overlander should have Namibia and Botswana on their bucket list."