Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
We all know the feeling of buying a new project, driving it around, and finding more and more problems, before finally caving into an all-out build. That’s where Brian Gear found himself after picking up his bagged Hilux back in ’09 as a warranted, registered, and cert’d unit on 18-inch wheels. It was stripped back to nothing within four months.
The Hilux started out as a 2.4-litre diesel, but that has been binned in favour of a rebuilt 1UZ-FE packing high-lift cams, decked heads to raise compression, twin 2.25-inch exhausts with custom headers, all run by a Megasquirt — oh, and, how could we forget it — the custom 4A-GE individual throttle body (ITB) set-up. The whole package is backed by a W58 five-speed with custom flywheel and heavy-duty clutch.
It wouldn’t be a minitruck without the appropriate low, so the body and tray have been dropped 2.75 inches, with the pinch seam cut off and welded up to lie flat on the sills. The front has been fitted with a facelift Surf example — lights, grille, and bumper — along with a custom bonnet to clear the ITBs. And like hot rodders of old, Brian has installed Cadillac rear tail lights! Front and rear wheel tubs have been made to make room for the low, and the chassis has been stripped bare to cut off all the original bag set-up and re-bagged to suit 20-inch Dodge Nitro and, sometimes, Chip Foose Speedsters. These changes include a Z’d front to suit the body drop, new mounts for the motor and box to keep it off the ground, and lots of custom mounting pieces for the under-tray fuel cell, air tank, shocks, etc.
Talking air, the ’Lux uses SS6 front and SS7 rear bags, with five-gallon and seven-gallon air tanks respectively, which are filled from either the dive tank or the engine-driven York compressor. Braking has been addressed through the use of R33 calipers paired up with Falcon rotors on the front and S14 calipers and rotors down the back, all tricked out with braided lines and a Toyota Starlet booster.
Interior details have been kept pretty basic, with retrimmed dash, doors, hood lining, and all the rest in black. A pair of Recaro seats that adorn the front portion of the cabin are awaiting a retrim to match.
The build is nearing completion, and the aim is to get everything ready for a cert over the next few months. All that is needed is a few finishing touches — custom top A-arms to get a bit more lift in the front to clear the guards at full lock, among the smaller details. Brian mentioned that almost the entire build has been done in the shed at home, with “just a few mates, beers, and big ideas”. We can’t wait to see it laying frame down the motorway.