An Australian team has set world records for the longest and deepest underwater drive with a modified 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser nicknamed “Mudcrab.”
The team of engineers, commercial divers, and car enthusiasts last week drove the classic Land Cruiser 4.3 miles under the harbor of the Australian city of Darwin, reaching a maximum depth of 98 feet, ABC News Australia reported. To do that, the Land Cruiser needed much more than a snorkel.
The Land Cruiser, which started out in unroadworthy condition, was converted to electric power so it could operate without oxygen to burn. The tires were also filled with 330 pounds of water. The team reportedly only had time for one saltwater test drive before the record attempt.
The route took the Mudcrab and its drivers/divers across the harbor from Mandorah to Darwin. This had previously been attempted in 1983 by another group from Darwin with another Land Cruiser. They didn’t make it all the way across the harbor, hitting a rock ledge 1.8 miles into the journey, but they did set records for underwater distance and depth. The attempt has become an “urban legend” in Darwin that served as inspiration, Matty Mitchell, head diver for the Mudcrab team, said in an interview with ABC News Australia.
For this attempt, 30 commercial divers took turns behind the wheel. While the harbor is home to sharks and crocodiles, the biggest challenges turned out to be mud and silt. The Land Cruiser got bogged down multiple times, requiring inflatable buoys to lift it out of the muck. The SUV also had to be lifted over a gas pipeline, which took two hours.
The underwater drive ultimately took 12 hours—about five hours longer than originally planned—with the Mudcrab emerging from pitch black waters at around 9:00 p.m. local time.
The Land Cruiser nameplate has been absent from the U.S. for the past couple of years but a new generation returns for 2024 with a retro design and a lower price target.