The bio on Shaun Whale’s Instagram profile tells you everything about the person taking the pictures on the other end.
“4WDing, fishing and camping is what I live for”
The profile captures a life of adventure to inspire envy in anyone, car enthusiast or not. Fishing, camping, swimming and living a life of adventure on the road less travelled.
With a small brace of off-road vehicles in his personal collection, Shaun caught the modifying bug from his first car. A soft-top Suzuki Sierra, Shaun took to the tracks and quickly bit off more than the little Zook could chew. He set about transforming the car into an unassuming rock-crawling weapon.
Graduating to Toyota LandCruisers, Shaun hasn’t looked back. Currently, three LandCruisers occupy his garage, and he shares a bond with all of them.
“I was born with my passion for cars,” said Shaun. “It’s always been fourbies. I have loved fishing and exploring the outdoors and adventure for as long as I can remember. The Suzuki Sierra I bought at 16 was my first 4WD and I just couldn’t leave it alone. I modified the heck out of it.”
A presenter for 4WD Action, Shaun has spent his career in off-road media. Throw a dart at a map of Australia and he has probably trekked there and back with a story to match.
He has never owned a 2WD vehicle. You can’t take those on the beach.
Of his tough Toyota triplets, the first car down the track every time is his 60 series LandCruiser, nicknamed ‘Dirty 30’. An un-killable, unstoppable adventure machine, built for the harshest country, in the harshest country on earth.
When Shaun purchased the 60-series LandCruiser wagon, the former owner of the immaculate 4×4 hesitated as he handed over the keys. He questioned Shaun, seeking to ensure the well maintained car did not fall victim to a driver who wouldn’t respect Toyota’s intentions.
Now in Shaun’s possession for over 10 years, the 60 series still has the standard windscreen wipers, but we suspect the rest would upset the previous owner.
The name Dirty 30? Shaun cut the wagon half of the car off and turned it into a ute. Halving the 60 series to a 30. Seeing almost as many miles on the unsealed stuff as it does tarmac, the Dirty 30 just doesn’t look right when it’s clean. Affectionately referred to as a tractor for its unshakeable determination on the boggiest most rutted out tracks, the turbo-diesel ute has been rolled, had wheels come off at speed and has been taken to the most remote points of Australia. Places so far off the grid that if you managed to get a call through to a tow truck, the best they could do is have a giggle and wish you luck.
The ute carries enough spares to fix itself regardless of what goes wrong. Complete with pie oven, esky fridge, Weber gas BBQ and the full compliment of camping clobber, the LandCruiser is a motorised bug-out pack. The modifications are endless, but Shaun offers newcomers to the 4×4 scene some sage advice. Get out and drive.
“The best modification you can make to a four-wheel-drive is a full tank of diesel to get you places.”
After you find the limits out there, he recommend taking a look at your tyres and your suspension.
Complimenting the Dirty 30, Shaun’s other LandCruisers are equally capable.
Second down the trail is a well kept and highly modified 80 series. A brute that has been prepared with the best parts and the knowledge that comes from thousands of kilometres of hard earned experience. The workhorse built to do everything.
The special car in the quiver is a late model 79 Series LandCruiser. This is Shaun’s favoured possession. The one he keeps clean and away from the rough stuff, despite the V8 equipped dual cabs obvious competence. It might be the forever car, if such a thing exists.
His love for all things off-road extends beyond his own cars and adventures. The community of off-roaders in Australia grows daily, and it is this community that drives his passion on and off the clock.
“The 4WD community is probably the most enthusiastic and passionate subculture in the automotive industry. Families, single people, right up to grey nomads get into four wheel driving. It’s a diverse audience but it’s also massive in terms of numbers,” said Shaun.
“It’s growing every year as more people realise how easy and fun it is to experience the best parts of this amazing country. We camp with them, we live in them, we make them comfy, we modify to suit our needs and everyone’s needs are different.
“4WDing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life. Our vehicles mean a lot more to us than a convenience to get from A to B, they’re escape machines.”
So, fill up that tank, and hit those trails. There’s a whole Australia out there you haven’t seen.