THE $20,000+ BUILD
SPENDING more than $60K on a new fourwheel drive and then dropping another $20K at the local 4x4 store isn’t just for the rich and famous. In fact, it’s quite easy to spend well in excess of $20,000 on accessories and modifications to tailor a four-wheel drive to match your needs, real or imagined. With a little planning and a few smart choices, you can transform a standard, low-spec wagon or ute into something that will end up more capable, comfortable and versatile than some far more expensive luxury 4x4s. And the best thing is it’ll have the features you want and none of the stuff you can do without.
Outback tourers who’ve already spent $10K on the accessories we’ve outlined will now have a vehicle well-suited to the ‘big trip’ – but with another $10K (or more) they can really go to town – or leave it, as the case may be. Some useful luxuries include a rooftop tent, an awning, roof cargo bags or roof pods, a navigation system, a battery charging system, infotainment, solar panels, inverters and power outlets, hot water systems, showers, auxiliary lighting, swingout wheel carriers, hi-lift jack holders, and top-spec suspension components.
Still got money to burn? How about some engine mods such as a turbo, chipped ECU and three-inch mandrel bent exhaust? Or how about an engine conversion? Then you could fit a rock-crawling transfer case, lower or higher final drive ratio and portal axles: the sky – and your credit card – really is the limit.
WE’VE featured hundreds of modified vehicles in 4X4 Australia over the years, so there’s no shortage of inspiration to draw upon. One of the most impressive – and expensive – tourers we’ve featured is Hema Maps’ Landcruiser 79 Double Cab, jam-packed with goodies designed to make it self-sufficient in remote Australia for weeks at a time. It’s had its chassis stretched and rear track widened to improve on- and off-road comfort, loadcarrying capability, handling and safety.
Stretching the budget even further is Icon’s Land Rover Defender, which cost around US$300,000 to build. It runs a 6.2litre LS3 V8 mated to a four-speed auto gearbox and, as well as custom suspension, it’s loaded with custom-made parts, from door handles to air-conditioning vents.
It’d be nice to have an unlimited budget to build something really special, but you can achieve a hell of a lot with just $5K. And if you plan your build wisely, there’s nothing stopping you from adding accessories and making modifications as you can afford them.
Engine data displays reveal stuff like your air-fuel mixture. Even a simple awning provides shade and keeps the dew off.
Never too much light; LEDS are cheap and use almost no power. Navigation and mapping tools reveal what’s nearby.