Building the ultimate $20,000 family touring 4WD | Project80

Join me on my mission to repair, restore and upgrade our ageing 80 Series Landcruiser over the next few months into the ultimate low budget family touring 4WD with a total budget of around $20,000 . . . including the value of the car.

Last September our beloved Toyota 80 Series Landcruiser celebrated it’s 25th birthday!

It rolled off the production line in September 1991 which, coincidentally, is the same month that my wife Jen and I met - although it didn’t join our family until 7 years later in 1998 when we upgraded from our old dual cab Hilux.

It had 90,000km under it’s belt when we bought it and it's now done just over 370,000 so it’s fair to say that it’s been a big part of our lives and shared plenty of adventures.

But nothing lasts forever and I’ve been thinking for a while now about upgrading to something new(er).

A dual cab 79 Series Landcruiser is currently the only newer vehicle on the market that I would consider a viable upgrade (5 seater, live axles, diesel, manual, workhorse!)

And while I have no doubt that a 79 will be my next 4WD, there's still plenty of life in our 80 Series so I’ve decided to hang onto it for a couple more years and a few more road trip adventures.

I’ll also admit that when I raised the idea of selling the 80 there were actual genuine tears from our girls!!

It’s been in our family for their entire lives and the only real constant in an ever changing landscape.

It was their home for 16 months when we did The Big Lap trip and the idea of selling it had about the same response as if I’d suggested we get rid of the family dog!

So with the decision made to keep it, there is now a long and growing list of repairs and improvements that I need to get to work on to make sure it is in great shape to take us on some of the upcoming trips we have planned to the far corners of the country.

Our next big adventure is scheduled for mid this year so it's time to get busy.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to share this restoration journey with you guys through a series of articles and videos and to demonstrate that you don’t need big money to put together a perfect long range touring 4WD that will take you on your own Big Lap around Australia.

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To prove this I’m going to set a total budget for the project of around $20,000 which includes the current market value of the car.

I’ve done some homework and I reckon that as it stands right now in my garage, our 80 Series is worth about $12,000 give or take.

This leaves me a budget of about $8,000 for repairs and upgrades to get it back up to ‘big lap ready’.

Plenty of people believe that to do a big road trip like 'The Big Lap’ you need a shiny new $100,000+ 4WD and a caravan worth at least that . . . or more!

This simply isn’t the case and I’m going to prove it.

For a total budget of around $20,000, you can buy one of the best family/touring 4WD’s ever built (that's the 80 Series Landcruiser of course) and with some carefully invested dollars and quite a bit of DIY and elbow grease have yourself an awesome road trip machine.

Best of all you can then spend a year or two driving it around the country and when you’re finished you can sell it and get most off that money back.

So let's get on with it . . .

Here’s the current specs of our Landcruiser:

Model: 1991 HDJ80 80 Series Landcruiser
Motor: 1HD-T (4.2 ltr Turbo Diesel)
Odometer: 371,913
Approximate market value: $12,000

Extras it already has:

  • Front & rear ARB Air Lockers
  • ROH alloy wheels - 16 x 8
  • Tradesman Roof Rack
  • ARB bull bar, side rails and steps
  • 12,000lb Warn Winch
  • Old Man Emu springs & shocks (2 inch lift)
  • 100ah second battery with isolator
  • Kaymar rear bar - wheel carrier and jerry can holder
  • Long Ranger fuel tank
  • UHF radio
  • Snorkel
  • IPF Spotlights
  • Side awning

So as you can see it is already pretty well setup for big road trips which it had to be for our Big Lap trip but it's done a lot of work and a lot of hard trips and there are quite a few issues that need attention.

Plus, since our Big Lap trip where we started with waaaay too much ‘stuff’ we’ve had almost a complete 180 degree turnaround in our approach and now it’s all about travelling as light as possible.

As you’ll see, part of my plan is to set the vehicle up so that we can be completely independent and able to bush camp with very quick set ups and pack ups and not need to take our camper trailer or tow anything else.

This will give us the most amount of freedom to go anywhere and not be reliant on caravan parks.

We’ll need power, water, kitchen, sleeping and storage all on board and easily accessible.

Let’s start by looking at the repairs and maintenance issues that need attention:

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Like any car of this age, things are wearing out so I’ve done an end to end review of all of the areas that need attention to get it up to ‘road trip spec’.

Steering, suspension & underbody

  • Shock absorber bushes worn
  • Stabiliser bar bushes worn
  • Panhard rod bushes, radius arm bushes and tie rod ends probably worn
  • Steering box leaking
  • Cracks around radiator mounts
  • Various oil leaks

For a while now the front end has been a bit wobbly which, given its age is not too surprising. Once I get over 60km/h it comes and goes and varies depending on whether I'm accelerating or decelerating, going up or down a hill and turning.

The tyres have travelled 70,000 km, there are a few steering and suspension bushes that are worn and the steering damper has been there since we replaced it in 1998.

Plus the shockers have done over 170,000km and the ride is very harsh even just driving around the streets.

Any or all of these could be contributors and will be replaced as part of #project80.

My goal is to replace pretty much everything that wears in the undercarriage so that we get back to that nice tight 'new car off the production line' feeling, or as close to that as possible.

The steering box was replaced about 120,000km ago so I’m hoping it only needs a seal kit otherwise I'll be up for around $500 for a replacement box.

There are a couple of other oil leaks which will need new seals but hopefully nothing too expensive.

We replaced all of the wheel bearings about 10,000km ago so they have plenty of life left and at the time we checked the brake pads and discs which looked fine. I’ll check these again before the end of the project and replace/service them if needed.

Under the bonnet

  • Rocker cover gasket leaking
  • Fuel filter mount broken
  • Radiator leaking around top filler
  • Replace belts & hoses

Mechanically she’s in pretty good shape. I change the engine oil and filter every 10,000km so it’s not due for another 8,000km and I’ve recently replaced the gearbox, transfer case and diff oils.

I’ll give the under bonnet a general clean and tidy up though as it’s looking pretty grubby.

To save money I’ll do as much of the work as I can myself but I’m no mechanic so I’ll be calling on my mate Terry De Vries of Mr Mods to help me out along the way.

Body Work

  • Paint work is fading and cracked
  • Rust around drivers side windscreen pillar
  • Rear window leaks
  • Faded lights and trims
  • Tailgate not staying shut tight
  • Wipers faded

Given the amount of work the car has done it’s not surprising the paint and bodywork are showing their age.

The car looks every bit of it’s 25 years old and it’s time for an ‘extreme makeover’.

Taking her to a body shop for a respray would be a prohibitively expensive exercise as there is so much labour involved, but back in the 1980’s when I was just a teenager I rebuilt a couple of cars which involved fixing a lot of rust and giving them a complete respray.

So rather than do a big patch up job on the 80, I’m going to give her a complete respray and hopefully in the process show you that it’s not as hard as you might think.

To make life easier I won’t be changing the colour - this means that I don’t need to paint inside the engine bay and all those other hard to reach places which don’t need repainting.

But what I am going to do is go for a matte or satin finish to give her a bit more of a stealthy ‘ready for action’ look.

My aim is to get a finish something like on my motorbike helmet (see below)


The basic process will be:

  1. Fix all of the body work - cracked paint, dents, scratches, rust
  2. Rub back all the remaining paint areas and prime
  3. Respray with new topcoat paint
  4. Finish with several coats of clear that will dry to a matte/satin finish

I can do most of the fixing and prep work in my garage at home over a few weekends but I’ll need to find a clean environment for the respray. A spray booth will be ideal but if I can’t find one of them then I’ll probably drive over to Adelaide and use the garage at my Mum’s place which is big enough and can be sealed to keep the wind & dust out.

I’ll also need to respray the bar work and roof rack so it all looks 100%.

It will take me a few weekends to do all of the prep work but the final paint and clear coats will need to be done all at once.

I’ll replace or respray as many of the lights and trims as I can so there are no more old and faded bits letting it down.

You can buy some aftermarket LED tail lights and indicator lights off eBay for not too much money so I’ll be sourcing some of these.

The IPF spotlights on the front have been there since 1998 and are looking their age. One also has a blown globe which needs to be replaced.

A new globe and some matte enamel paint should bring them back to life and save me the cost of a replacement set.

These are set up as ‘spot’ lights, not flood and even though halogen is not as trendy as HID or LED, they still do the job and some would say are still the better light source.

I think with the addition of a $100 LED light bar I’ll have plenty of lighting power on the road ahead.

The high beam lights on the car are also IPF which are better than the originals they replaced.

Wheels & Tyres

I’m currently running ROH 16 x 8 alloy rims which are part of a set of 8 we put on the Landcruiser and camper trailer for our Big Lap trip.

These wheels are great but it’s time for a change.

In line with the new ‘stealthy’ matte paint finish on the car, I’m going to swap the silver alloys for black steel rims.

I was thinking about painting the ROH alloys black but frankly for the work involved to do it well and the cost of paint etc. it’s just as easy to go for new wheels which are black from the factory.

I’m not hung up on alloy wheels VRS steel as both will do the job just fine. There are some nice black alloy rims on the market but the steel rims are much cheaper and this project is all about coming in around the $20,000 budget, so steel wheels it is.

My plan is to sell the complete set of 8 ROH alloy wheels once it’s all done which will help put some dollars back into the budget.

The tyres on the car now are Cooper ST MAXX 265/75R16 which have travelled about 70,000km and are due for replacement.


I’ve been running on Coopers since the 1990’s and have had great experience with them – long life, great performance and no blowouts.

But they come at a price being one of the most expensive tyres on the market.

So for this project I’m going to try something new and give a more cost effective brand a run and see how they compare.

This will save some significant dollars in the budget and also give me a chance to road test a cheaper brand and see how they stack up.

Having said that, they still need to be good. I’m not going to put crappy Chinese tyres on the car to save a few bucks and risk our safety in the process.

I’ve done some homework and I’m going for a set of 5 x Nitto Trail Grappler LT285/75 R16.


These are a quality Japanese made mud terrain light truck tyre which has had some pretty solid reviews.

They're also slightly larger than my current tyres which will ad a couple more centimetres of ground clearance.

As you’ll see in my budget at the end of this article, I’ve been given a quote from Bob Jane T-Marts for $1875 for 5 tyres PLUS 5 black steel rims. At $375 per wheel including the rims, that’s a pretty good price.

I could have opted for the Nitto Terra Grappler All Terrains and saved $400 (for the set of 5) and to be honest I’ve thought seriously about doing this.

The reality is that the all terrains will be quieter and last longer given that most of their life will be on sealed roads.

BUT . . . when we get into the rough stuff the Trail Grapplers will perform better, be stronger and less susceptible to punctures and damage and in my mind, that is more important.

We chose Cooper STT’s (muddies) for our Big Lap trip for the same reason and I’m sticking with that logic.

I’ll be sure to let you know how they go once they are fitted.


  • Fix crack in dash
  • Fix/replace right back door skin
  • New drivers seatbelt
  • New front seats
  • New door lock barrels and keys

Not surprisingly the interior is showing its age but considering the work it’s done and how much harsh sun it’s had, it’s in pretty good shape.

The carpet is still like new and the floor mats are doing ok even though they are 10 years old.

The drivers seat is crumbling on the right edge of the bottom section as 80 Series are prone to do and I’ve been running canvas seat covers for a few years to slow down the decline.

But now it’s time to replace them for something more comfortable and ergonomic with better lumbar support.

The word is that Ford XR6 or XR8 seats are a good replacement so I’m looking into these.

I also have a few additional things to add but I’ll cover these in the ‘Improvements & Additions’ next.

Improvements & Additions

About half of my budget is going towards adding and improving, not just fixing.

My goal is that we have ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’, we are independent and not reliant on powered sites or caravan parks and that camp setups and pickups are fast and easy.

I’ll be adding a rooftop tent onto the existing roof rack which I’ll modify to make it fit.

This will be where Jen and I will sleep and the girls will have swags which will be stored on the front 1/3 of the roof rack not being used by the roof top tent.

On recent trips we’ve been using an Oztent RV5 which we carried on the roofrack but this won’t fit on the roof with the rooftop tent, hence the move to swags for the kids.

This keeps all of our bulky but not heavy sleeping gear on the roof out of the dust and not using valuable space inside the car.

My current choice for a rooftop tent is the Darche Intrepidor which at 55kg is not as heavy as some but looks to be well designed and made.


We already have a rollout awning on the drivers side which the girls can sleep under in their swags if need be and I’ll probably include a lightweight 3 man tent in the kit as a backup for them if the weather gets really nasty.

I'll also include a MeshMat for each of them which will be a good ground cover under their swags.

I’ll install a pair of roller drawers in the back with one side being setup as a rollout kitchen (stove, cooking equipment and food) and the other side for tools, recovery gear, spares and other bits and pieces.

The roller drawers also have side wings so there will be quite a lot of storage along the sides as well. All of it down low reducing the centre of gravity.

You can spend some big dollars on drawers but this is an area of decided to save some bucks.

I've ordered a pair of Titan Drawers from 4WD Supacentre which are due for delivery later this month - at $465 delivered they are very cheap and while I don't have unrealistic expectations, I'm hoping the quality is good enough for what we need. We'll soon find out once we hit the road.


It’s all going to be about finding clever places to store things in the many nooks and crannies around the vehicle.

I’ve even seen a kit you can get to create a storage compartment in the lower tailgate but this is outside the budget unfortunately.

I might see if I can work out a way to convert it myself as it would be a good place to store lightweight things that need to be easily accessible like first aid kit, snatch strap and emergency supplies.

Our Waeco CF80 fridge will live on a slide out on one side of the drawers and the other side will be devoted mainly to our personal gear bags which will be limited to about a 40 litre kit bag each (yes, Jen’s bag too). We always take way too many clothes on road trips and end up wearing the same few things all the time so this will be our chance to finally cut it down.

I’ll also need to find room for about 60 – 80 litres of water either in a bladder, 10 ltr casks or some other way – will wait and see what room I have when I’ve installed the drawers. We have a 20 ltr jerry on the rear bar but will need much more to be fully independent.

I have a cargo barrier already which I’ll cut and weld to shorten it to fit with the rear drawers in place.

I’d also like to install a sheet of mesh of some sort just below the back roofline to give us room to stuff lightweight items like jackets in an otherwise unused space.

I’ll also add some USB sockets in the back seat area for the girls to charge their phones and iPads. We have two outlets in the front already.

Performance wise the car does okay and will cruise on 90 to 100 km/h fairly economically but any faster than that and the fuel consumption goes through the roof.

Being able to sit on 110km/h economically would be a big improvement and a bit more pick up when it’s loaded up would be a bonus.

I’m looking at upgrading to a high flow exhaust and getting the engine dyno tuned which will hopefully make enough of a difference.

Being an older mechanical diesel, the 1HD-T has no chips or electronics that can be upgraded.

An intercooler and new bigger turbo are other options to extract some more horses from the old girl but they would add around $6000 to the budget so it will have to stay on the ‘one day’ list at this stage.

Some new LED lights inside the back and around the edges of the roof rack will be a great addition to light up our cooking and camping areas.

Finally when it’s all done I’ll get some new snazzy Expedition Australia sign writing but I haven’t included this in the budget as you wouldn’t normally need it.

The Budget

I’m keeping track of everything in a spreadsheet which you can see below.

It shows what I expect things to cost (Budget) and then what they actually cost (Actual) once I’ve bought them.

I’ll keep this up to date and include the latest version in each article I publish.





Steering & suspension Stabiliser bar links - rear  $40
Stabiliser bar bushes - rear  $22
Shock Absorber bushes lower - rear  $20
Stabiliser bar links - front  $49
Stabiliser bar bushes - front  $65
Steering Damper  $65
New shock absorbers  $800
Suspension Arm Bush Kit - Front  $200
Cracks around radiator mounts Weld it up  $100
Fuel filter mount broken Weld mount  $-
Steering box leaking Find source of leak & fix  $100
Oil seals Rear tailshaft and speedo cable leaks  $200
Rocker cover leaking replace gasket  $20
Rear windscreen leaking Remove and reseal  $15
Radiator Leaking Repair  $100
New Tyres & wheels x 5 Nitto Trail Grappler LT285/75R16 x 5 + rims - Due mid Feb  $1,875  $1,875
Body work Fix rust around drivers windscreen pillar  $50
Paint work Prep body for new paint job  $100
New paint  $300
Spray gun buy/rent  $100
Flare seals New rubber seals around flares  $150
Wipers Paint front wipers matt black  $15
Cracked dashboard Fix  $20
Door locks New barrels & keys  $100
Spotlights Service & replace globes & covers, paint housings  $50
Dashboard Fix split  $15
Drivers seatbelt Replace due to fraying  $50
New front seats Good second hand eg. XR8  $800
Tailgate Doesn't stay shut tight  $-


Rooftop tent Darche Rooftop Tent  $1,100
Roofrack modification Remove side rail for tent & paint  $20
High Flow Exhaust  $800
Dyno Tune  $750
Rear Drawers Ordered 23/1/2017 - Due mid feb  $500  $465
Front LED light bar Mount on bullbar or roofrack  $80
Side & rear LED flood lights & switches  $100
New radio aerial  $20
New UHF aerial  $60
Solar panel  $180
Brake & indicator light housings Replace with new LED  $200
Modify rear cage Cut, weld & paint to fit with rear drawers  $-
Rear roof storage shelf Build from steel mesh & mount on rear cage mounting points  $20
USB charge points Double USB charge sockets for back seat pasengers  $40
LED Lights in rear LED lights on back tailgate to light rear work & kitchen area  $35
Battery link cable Built in jumper cable from battery 1 to 2  $40
Dyneema rope in winch Replace wire rope to save weight  $189




PLUS Original Value of Car






What have I missed?

I’d love your feedback in the comments below or email me and feel free to suggest different options or things I haven’t thought of.

I expect the plan to change and evolve as we go along so your input and ideas are very much appreciated.

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I’ll include the hashtag #Project80 on every article I publish on this site and on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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19 thoughts on “Building the ultimate $20,000 family touring 4WD | Project80

  1. PAul says:

    I have recently purchased a FZJ80 1997. its in great condition and although i really wanted a diesel i didn't have the budget to purchase one. I did have a HZJ80 40 anniversary a few years ago but an issue with my neck wouldn't allow me to climb into it. any i have shaped my old Mid wheel base for this well looked after one and now use it to tow my caravan all over the place. I will watch your blog with interest and offer mechanical advice where possible. As far as the suspension bushes go if they haven't been done before then they will be way overdue and can also cause driveline backlash. Regards

  2. Laraine Van Dyk says:

    I have one of these wonderful vehicles which has done 490,000 klms of amazing remote adventures and everything in it is still the original, including gearbox. Never misses a beat and still in top condition. I will be very interested in what you are going to undertake with your vehicle.

  3. Tom Morris says:

    Hey Steve I am trying to decide which to go on building up a 4wd, this project has my full attention. !!
    I have use of a spray booth if required, it,s in Melbourne ( south east)
    Cheers Tom.

    • Steve Baile says:

      Cheers Tom, I might take you up on the offer to use your spray booth - thanks. I'll shoot you an email when I get closer to the painting stage.

  4. John Forster says:

    Hi Steve,
    I can't promise anything but you may be able to borrow the spray booth at my work which is in Ballarat. Not Melbourne sure but a lot closer than Adelaide!
    Looking forward to following the build. Seeing as I own a 1991 HDJ80 as well, I'll be following with interest.

    • Steve Baile says:

      Thanks John, much appreciated - looks like I might have a spray booth in Melbourne but we'll see what happens.

  5. Mick wheeler says:

    Hi Steve,

    You have been a huge inspiration to me, I've watched your DVDs and loved every minute!

    I've had the pleasure of owning a couple of 80 series and think they are great.

    It's a big ask going from camper trailer back to single vehicle but that's the best thing about these trips, it's trying something different!

    Reading that you are thinking of getting a roof top tent and putting the girls in swags, to be honest from experience you will end up disliking the idea.

    We have gone from a tent, to roof top and now a couple of camper trailers, the only set up that didn't work for us was the roof top.

    We did 4 weeks at cape York and having to pack up every single day was annoying, don't get me wrong they are great but if you are looking to use your vehicle every day then you will hate it!

    If I was to go back to single vehicle travel then I believe two 30 sec oztents would be ideal as a base camp.

    I'll be attempting the big lap this year myself with a new baby due in July it will be an experience like no other!

    I'm currently working on my own blog of past trips and the future, I think you will be surprised to read all the bad luck I have but at the end of the day I still live getting out there!!

    Hope to meet ya one day. Take care.


    • Steve Baile says:

      G'day Mick, thanks for the great feedback. Interesting thoughts on the rooftop tent. I've actually done several trips since The Big Lap just with the girls - they sleep in our Oztent and me in my swag which I usually setup on the roof rack - so I suppose I have a thing about sleeping on the roof! With Jen coming along on the next trip we decided to give the rooftop tent a go and time will tell if it turns out to be the right move. I'll also be doing a lot more short trips by myself to various places for blogs etc. so lots of quick overnight stops which I think the rooftop tent will be good for. Keep the feedback coming and good luck with baby #2 & your big lap plans. Cheers, Steve

  6. Steve Beattie says:

    Hey mate,
    I've started an 80 upgrade myself, doing much the same as you.
    First thing was a new motor so going the LS1 conversion, the old 3F was stuffed'!
    Looking forward to seeing how you go as we are pretty much doing the same stuff (XR 5 seats for me!) My paint was stuffed too but I'm thinking about vinyl wrap, half the price of paint.
    I've set a budget of $35k , we'll see how webith go.
    Good luck.

    • Steve Baile says:

      Cheers Steve, I actually thought about a vinyl wrap as another option and also that matte plastikote stuff you spray on from aerosols cans. Given that I'm going to paint it myself though this is the cheapest option as I'll only be upfront for the materials which should come in under $500. The one thing I'm not sure about it how durable the satin finish will be. With a gloss finish you can polish out fine scratches but not with a matte or satin finish - any polishing will make a shiny spot and kill the effect. A mate of mine also suggested the matte finish might be a bit porous and fine red dust might work it's way in. Not sure if this is a factor or not but we'll find out. What do you like about the XR5 seats? I'm not fixed on any in particular so still open to ideas.

  7. Allan says:

    Hi Steve,
    It would interesting to see how much of your budget would be eaten by the existing mods you have as in bar, winch, lockers, suspension and long range tank.
    All of these, I would assume, would be the first things required for a lap.

    • Steve Baile says:

      Hi Allan, there's no doubt that all the existing mods are worth some dollars but it's the fact that they are all there that the car is worth $12k or thereabouts - without them it would be worth a lot less. This is part of what makes restoring an old 80 Series like this such a good prospect. You can start with a very well set up (but old) vehicle for not much money then 'finish it' to your own spec. Best of all the 80 Series is such a proven performer that even with 370k on the clock you know it's got plenty of life left in it.

  8. Peter Vince says:

    Good luck, I'll be keeping up to date with you and the progress. Can't wait for the next part and looking forward to your next adventure.

  9. Aaron Schubert says:

    Hey Steve,

    A couple of comments. The engine oil and filter should be replaced every 5000km, not every 10,000. How is your gearbox and transfer case? Mine has done a similar number of km's and the transfer case was in bad shape - if you have backlash between the front and rear drivelines it will primarily be wear in the transfer. Also usually by now the synchro’s in the gearbox need attention; mine is harder to down change into second unless you are going slowly.

    Has anyone looked at your fuel pump and injectors? They are an expensive item to have rebuilt- anywhere from $1200 to $1800 plus the injectors. It’s worth getting the vehicle tuned too, if it hasn’t been done in a while.

    Have you had your 80 weighed? You might be surprised at how heavy it is; it’s really easy to be overweight.

    Check your viscous hub too; when the engine is off and cold, you should be able to spin the fan and it stop immediately. If it free wheels at all you should remove it and replace/top up the oil, or get another one. This is a massively important item that many people overlook.

    Check the rear sliding windows for rust too; you can pop them out quite easily. They have an aluminium slide which has a habit of rusting away.

    Another common issue is cracking around the chassis where the steering box bolts on; worth a quick look.

    If you aren’t happy with the low beam lighting, Narva sell free form reflectors and new globes that make a massive difference. That, and replacing the factory wiring that is too small.

    You can buy the XR6 or XR8 plate’s laser cut from a few places – MHM customs is one.

    I’m also told the Camry flare seals are the same, but much cheaper.

    I would suggest an EGT gauge be fitted too, if you don't have one - cheap insurance and you can get an idea of how hard the vehicle is working at any given time. Useful for highway driving, towing and low range work.

    Here is our 80 Series – you may get some useful information from it. I’ve spent way to much on the vehicle, but love it to bits.

    Last tip - ring Club 4x4 and see how they fare for insurance; they offer a whole heap of things that are much better than your average insurance company.

    Best of luck with the build; very keen to see how it all pans out.

    • Steve Baile says:

      Hi Aaron, thanks for some great info there.

      Just to answer a couple of questions . . .

      There may be a bit of backlash in the drivetrain but not to the point of it feeling like a problem. Gear changes are probably a bit harder than normal but again, not to the point I'm concerned about it.
      If I was planing to drive it for another 100,000km I'd almost certainly budget for some more work on the gearbox and transfer and clutch too but at this stage, unless something break or gets much worse I'll probably leave it.

      I forgot to mention in the article that the engine was replaced 170,000km ago so it's not as old as the car. The fuel pump was rebuilt then as well and I remember it being around the $1800 mark at the time.

      I haven't weighed it for a while but I will once it's all done - there's a weigh bridge at the local waste transfer station I go to. I'm not sure how you stay under the GVM and still take everything you need but I am doing whatever I can to save weight during this project so we'll see where I end up.

      Will check the viscous hub and back windows for signs of rust.

      I've heard about the cracking on the chassis problem. I do have crack in the radiator mount near the steering box but I can't see any cracks in the actual chassis itself. Having said that, the leaky steering box has covered everything in that area with oil so I'll need to give it a good clean up to have a proper look.

      Narva lights sound interesting - I upgraded to IPF headlights a few years back which were better but not dramatically different. Hadn't heard about the wiring issue either so will look into both of these.

      I'll also check out the Camry flare seals as the 8 Series one's I found seemed to be a bit pricey for what is basically just a rubber strip.

      EGT gauge sounds like a good idea too.

      I had a look at yours and saw that you went with a part time kit - I had considered that but ruled it out as not worth the expense given the budget nature of the project - If I was thinking beyond a couple of years I'd probably do it . . and an intercooler . . . and a bigger turbo etc. 🙂

      Sounds like you're pretty happy with the Beaudesert exhaust - did you gain much in terms of economy at the top end around 100 - 110km/h? I find that once I get to 100 the engine feels like it's hit it's maximum comfort RPM and starts working much harder - would love to move this point up to 110+

      Thanks again for the tips and keep them coming.


      • Aaron Schubert says:

        Hey Steve,
        It is very difficult to stay under the GVM, especially when you are carrying extra fuel, water and have a rear bar. A trailer tends to be the only option.

        In regards to the lights, it seems the two big issues are wiring that is too small to allow proper current flow, and the factory reflectors are rubbish. I was scared to drive mine in low beam at 110km/h; the lights are shocking. Unfortunately I did the wiring upgrade along with the reflectors and plus 120 globes in the one hit, but a mate did just the new Narva reflectors with standard globes and was impressed.

        If you are reasonable with 12V you can make your own wiring up, with relays. There’s a diagram on LCOOL if I remember correctly. Alternatively, ARB or Piranha sell the kits all ready to go.

        The part time kit in mine was installed primarily as a way to reduce the backlash; when I bought the car it was very evident, to the point where changing gears you almost had to wait a split second for the front and rear to even out. The part time kit fixed most of the backlash by eliminating drive to the front, but after having the transfer case apart and seeing the wear it was obvious most of the backlash was through that.

        Beaudesert make a fantastic quality product; highly recommended. When I pulled my factory exhaust off it had a section that was badly squashed, where it runs between the body and the chassis. I reckon it would have been a 2 inch exhaust at best, which makes the vehicle work harder.

        The 3 inch with a muffler is a little louder, has a nice note but did make a difference. The turbo spools up about 200 RPM earlier, and economy probably increased (they reckon about 10% better economy with a decent exhaust and snorkel) but I don’t have any actual figures for you. The Beaudesert ones are mandrel bent and the dump pipe is substantially bigger. I would say the engine runs cooler as a result.

        The beauty of an EGT gauge is you can see how hard your engine is working; get a digital one and you’ll be amazed; it will move every time you move the accelerator even by half a mm. Unfortunately fitting an EGT gauge to your factory dump pipe is a bit of a challenge, but if you had one you would see there is a huge difference between 100km/h and 110km/h. Ours sits at about 260 – 280 doing 100km/h and will go up to 310 – 340 doing 110km/h. This is a direct reflection of extra fuel being burnt; you use about 2L/100km extra doing those extra 10 km’s an hour.

        The EGT gauge is handy for low range work too, as you can see what gearing works best. For example, I found that 2nd high runs lower temperatures on a soft beach at the same speed than 4 low. It’s also cheap insurance should you lose your coolant or oil.

        Happy to answer any other questions you may have, or jump on the offroad80s forum; there’s heaps of information there too.

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