The body has been painstak­ingly straight­ened, with all rem­nants of farm life re­moved

4 x 4 Australia - - Custom -

in line. The cen­tre was also swapped for a high-pin­ion front from a GU Pa­trol with LSD in­ter­nals in­stalled. Up front there’s also a GU Pa­trol steer­ing box on cus­tom mounts, with a chro­moly draglink ty­ing the Pa­trol steer­ing box to the Cruiser front axle.

De­spite run­ning mostly stock sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, there’s now an ex­tra two inches of clear­ance thanks to a 50mm sus­pen­sion lift from EFS. Each cor­ner was weighed in­di­vid­u­ally to get the ex­act spring rate di­aled in for a plush ride. The coils have been teamed up with four-inch longer RAW 4x4 shocks for a lit­tle ex­tra droop, pro­vid­ing more sta­bil­ity in the rough stuff. The change in ride height freed up just enough room for a set of 37-inch Gen­eral Grab­ber SRLS wrapped around 17-inch Dy­namic steel wheels.

With the body bolted back on, things don’t get any less im­pres­sive. It’s been painstak­ingly straight­ened, with all rem­nants of farm life re­moved. LED tail-lights and in­di­ca­tors have been re­cessed into the rear quar­ters, and a smooth coat of Toy­ota’s Dune Beige 416 has been lib­er­ally ap­plied – one of the very few jobs Billy farmed out.

Those with ea­gle eyes may have no­ticed a lack of front in­di­ca­tors. To keep things look­ing clean the old boxy units have been binned and re­placed by a trick halo-style head­light de­signed for early Mus­tangs, with the in­di­ca­tor built into the light.

Up the back Billy’s made a trick wrap-around tyre car­rier, with the pivot point near the pas­sen­ger-side rear wheel. This

has al­lowed him to keep a se­ri­ously im­pres­sive de­par­ture an­gle, de­spite hav­ing a rear-mounted Runva 11XP winch sand­wiched be­tween the body and tow bar. Up front the winch­ing du­ties are han­dled by a sig­nif­i­cantly larger Warn 8274, oth­er­wise known as a high-mount. It’s had the hous­ing braced, and the brake shaft drilled, tapped and capped with a Warn 6hp mo­tor up­grade.

On the in­side Billy has kept the theme of old-school-cool, with a mod­ern twist. The cargo area could al­most pass as stock, with a sound-dead­ened floor and stock bench seats. Up front the driver and pas­sen­ger are both strapped down in a pair of fixed-back Cor­beau race seats Billy picked up sec­ond-hand for a bar­gain. The clunky fac­tory gauges have all been re­placed by a sleek dig­i­tal unit from Aus­tralian com­pany 1Gauge, which cov­ers all en­gine vi­tals in­clud­ing most tem­per­a­ture lev­els, pres­sures, fluid lev­els, boost, and even air/fuel ra­tios. The speedo has been re­placed by a GPS unit from Nav­man, with the whole lot wired up with the help of a few mates and more than a few beers.

Billy’s one-of-a-kind FJ45 may have some purists bay­ing for blood, but it’s a good in­di­ca­tion of the way 4x4 tour­ing is head­ing in Aus­tralia: a com­bi­na­tion of re­li­a­bil­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity, with a huge slice of cool thrown in.

Billy ob­vi­ously likes switches, while the dig­i­tal con­trol units add a mod­ern twist to the oth­er­wise orig­i­nal in­te­rior. “Front in­di­ca­tors? If you’d look at the head­lamps, of­fi­cer...”

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