MODIFYING a four-wheel drive can be a tricky business.
Go too crazy with a big lift, huge tyres and other ‘radical’ mods, and you suddenly have a rig that goes against a 4x4’s DNA and is totally impractical.
That’s one thing Joe Emmerton wanted to avoid when building up his N80 Hilux. For Joe, his modified tourer had to be tough and practical – he’s a mad-keen fisho and hunter, so the Hilux needed to get to some remote places to pursue his hobbies.
After opting for the top-end SR5 and ticking the colour-coding and premo interior, Joe set to work on tweaking the Toyota for its future work.
The standard Hilux front struts were tossed in favour of a schmick four-inch lift setup – Bilstein monotube dampers and a set of custom-rate H&R coil springs from Heasman Steering and Suspension – and added more height via a 50mm bodylift from VMN. All this gave the Hilux a ride height 150mm higher than stock.
To rein in binding CV joints due to the big lift, Joe fitted a diff-drop setup from Phat Bars and heavy-duty adjustable arms from CalOffroad that combined with an adjustable OME-style ball joint to bring the front-end geometry back closer to spec. The suspension had re-arched rear springs, Bilstein remote reservoir 5160 dampers, and Snake Racing extended shackles for a four-inch lift at the back.
“On dirt roads and corrugations, having the remote res in the rear keeps it consistent and doesn’t fade,” Joe reckons.
The final touch was a set of 305/65R17 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ mud terrains with 17-inch Dynamic D-Hole steel wheels in a -30 offset.
Other sensible modifications include a Locker Anytime module, which allows Joe to engage the rear locker in high or low range, as well as rear-wheel drive, ideal for slippery boat ramps.
Up front is an AFN4X4 hoopless bullbar fitted with a Runva 11XP 11,000lb winch, underbelly Phat Bars bash plates and a set of angled rock sliders, with the stock rear bumper lifted 100mm via Dowtech lift brackets.
The Hilux tray is fitted with a cool Rhino-Rack low-profile tray-mount rack system, with a Howling Moon rooftop tent.
Momentum is upped thanks to a four-inch Fabulous Fabrications snorkel and three-inch exhaust from Arclite Engineering. Just Autos (QLD) tweaked the donk for 50 per cent more torque, improving fuel consumption as well.
Sensible improvements aimed at the owner’s needs make this one of the smartest modified rigs we’ve seen.