No money? No prob­lems … neat Hilux is the re­sult of hard work and metic­u­lous plan­ning.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

IHAVE been a big pro­po­nent of ap­pren­tice­ships ever since I failed my own spec­tac­u­larly. While their pri­mary pur­pose is to teach the ins and outs of a spe­cific trade, they more of­ten than not equip you with a set of skills you’ll use al­most ev­ery day of your life. From know­ing when to shut your mouth and when to point out those more qual­i­fied are do­ing it wrong, to hands-on skills and the abil­ity to make a few hun­dred bucks for a Satur­day’s work. But, with­out a doubt, the one skill that’s univer­sal across ev­ery ap­pren­tice­ship is learn­ing how to achieve your goals with barely two cents to rub to­gether. While the Hilux you’re look­ing at now might have had a few key up­grades when ap­pren­tice elec­tri­cian Tay­lor Shaw got his hands on it, it’s that can-do at­ti­tude which turned it into the off-road beast it is today.

When Tay­lor first took the keys two years ago, the live-axle con­ver­sion had al­ready been un­der­taken by a lo­cal fab shop – with a few loose ends left to tie up. The cus­tom 4x4 shop had sliced and diced the OEM in­de­pen­dent front end away from the chas­sis and grafted into place a cus­tom live-axle hous­ing based off an 80 Se­ries Cruiser. It runs an 80 Se­ries diff cen­tre, axles and steer­ing knuck­les, but the whole lot has been shoe­horned into a one-off sheet­metal hous­ing with the pump­kin flipped to the pas­sen­ger side to suit the Hilux’s trans­fer case drop. The ar­range­ment is held in place with a set of off-the-shelf 80 Se­ries ra­dius arms and a Pan­hard rod, all go­ing to cus­tom-fab­ri­cated mounts on the ’Lux’s frame. While the hot-glue gun was out, an 80 Se­ries steer­ing box was added to the ar­range­ment, with ex­ten­sive plat­ing to re­in­force the chas­sis.

Links are great, but all the links in the world won’t keep your 4x4 off the bump stops. To that end, the ’Lux is run­ning a set of 10-inch travel Fox coilovers with a 2.5-inch di­am­e­ter body giv­ing


huge damp­en­ing abil­ity. Sounds great, and it was, but it wasn’t fin­ished. When Tay­lor took the keys there were plenty of good bits added, but it was barely a roller and looked more like a farm truck than the rock-crush­ing weapon it is now. To fin­ish off the front end, he knocked the ride height down from six inches over stock to four inches, help­ing lower the cen­tre of grav­ity and free­ing up some valu­able down-travel in the process. A one-off front drive­shaft was fabbed up, with the fi­nal piece of the puz­zle swap­ping out the stock rear ring and pin­ion gear to suit the 4.1:1 ra­tio.

With the front-end sorted, Tay­lor turned his at­ten­tion to the rear sus­pen­sion. It’s still sport­ing leaf springs, but they work leaps and bounds bet­ter than a stock set-up thanks to a lit­tle bit of know-how on Tay­lor’s be­half. Af­ter run­ning a tape mea­sure over the stock leaf pack, Tay­lor worked out that a set of leafs from an RG Colorado would bolt into the front hanger, keep the diff in the same po­si­tion, then add a heap of length be­hind the rear axle. When teamed with ex­tended shack­les, the ar­range­ment gives the ’Lux a far more com­pli­ant ride that eas­ily flexes its way through tough tracks right be­hind the slinky fron­tend. There are plans to fit a set of Fox rear shocks even­tu­ally, but for now a set of Tough Dog ad­justa­bles keep the rear axle un­der con­trol.

Af­ter the rear sus­pen­sion was di­alled in, Tay­lor ditched the


Farmer’s steel tray and in­stalled a fac­tory rear tub. With a set of OEM flares in­stalled, he’s been able to shoe­horn in a set of 35-inch Fed­eral Coura­gia mud-ter­rains wrapped around 15-inch Dy­namic D-hole steel wheels.

Tay­lor’s not scared to punt the big ’Lux into silly sit­u­a­tions, but he’s also cau­tious to not beat it into a pulp for the fun of it. To keep it in one piece af­ter a week­end on the tracks, he’s gone from head­light to tail-light with a com­pre­hen­sive bar­work pack­age. The tip of the spear, and the piece that cops the most rocks straight to the face, is an Xrox tube bar that houses a set of LED spot­lights and a 12,000lb winch.

Ea­gle-eyed read­ers may no­tice some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent with the front bar – Tay­lor’s fired up the welder and ben­der and added in head­light pro­tec­tion with a set of hoops that show the Jeep boys there are bet­ter ways than plas­tic an­gry

eyes. The new hoops are tied into Tay­lor-made scrub bars that then tie into the side­step-cum-rock slid­ers; although, af­ter beat­ing them like they owe him money, they’ll prob­a­bly be get­ting a re­work soon, too. You can’t crunch sheet­metal if there’s no sheet­metal to crunch, so the grinder was called for again in the rear. Both quar­ter pan­els have been re­moved from the tub and re­placed with a tube rear bar that in­cor­po­rates the tow bar as well as pro­tects what re­mains of the tub and tail-lights.

While the sus­pen­sion and bar­work pack­age read like a how-to for a rock crawler, the set-up func­tions per­fectly for two-up camp­ing, with just the right amount of tour­ing mods. Rather than run­ning an ex­pen­sive and vul­ner­a­ble fi­bre­glass rear canopy, Tay­lor knocked-up a sim­ple frame then wrapped it in DIY can­vas to keep the tub dry for any weather this side of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. The back’s been kit­ted out with a set of sim­ple sheet­metal stor­age draw­ers for all the vi­tal tools and camp­ing equip­ment, with enough room to shove a swag or two on top. A UHF also got the nod as a piece of must-have equip­ment and, with a 3-inch ex­haust bolted straight to the back of the turbo, a few ex­tra killer wasps have been freed up to help move the big tyres.

While the build might look and per­form like a mil­lion bucks, it’s just more proof that think­ing things through and rolling up your sleeves al­most al­ways re­sults in a bet­ter build than open­ing the cheque­book and smok­ing cigars. With a lit­tle less than two years of seat time into his ’Lux, we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll be see­ing of Tay­lor or his Toy­ota.


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