4 x 4 Australia - - Custom 4x4 Of The Year 2017 - Joe Em­mer­ton

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 colour­cod­ing 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 four­inch 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 rear­wheel 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 three­inch ex­haust from Ar­clite En­gi­neer­ing. Just Au­tos (QLD) tweaked the donk for 50 per cent more torque, im­prov­ing fuel con­sump­tion as well.

The in­te­rior re­flects Joe’s prac­ti­cal­ity, with just a GME UHF and En­gel fridge fit­ted.

Sen­si­ble im­prove­ments aimed at the owner’s needs make this one of the smartest mod­i­fied rigs we’ve seen.

Sus­pen­sion kit for the lift in­cluded Calof­froad steer­ing arms, Bil­stein dampers and H&R coil springs.

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