Custom 4x4: Toyota Hilux SR5

Custom 4x4: Toyota Hilux SR5

The owner of this heavily modified 2009 Toyota Hilux SR5 happened upon the vehicle by accident.

You see, his parents originally bought the Tojo ute to use on the farm, but after a short period found that it wasn’t really suited to their needs, so he offered to take it off them.

With a number of vehicles already parked in his garage, he sent the Hilux to the boys at Pacific Installs, giving them instructions to transform it into a weekend warrior; it wouldn’t be used as a daily driver, so there were few limits to what could be modified.

Sanh Tran, from Pacific Installs, explains: “He’s a farmer himself. The Hilux is for touring and camping; nothing too extreme, bush tracks, Fraser Island, that sort of thing.”

Custom toyota hilux sr5 rearNothing too extreme? How about engine mods that see the Hilux’s 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine pumping out a claimed 200kW at the wheels, and a six-inch lift to help this beast crawl without fear of scraping its belly over some seriously tricky terrain?

The D4-D’s standard turbocharger has been flicked in favour of a Garrett Stage III GT turbo, and the top-mounted intercooler has been replaced by a larger and more efficient front-mounted unit with custom piping. There are also larger injectors, an F-CON ECU and a custom-made three-inch exhaust system.

This thing has got some serious grunt and Sanh says that the 200kW at the wheels is in “a safe state of tune” for this engine. The result is some serious on-road performance.
“It breaks traction at 80 kays, believe it or not, with those tyres on it!” Sanh explains. “You put your foot down and it goes berserk; yeah, it just loses traction. It’s pretty hectic, that thing.”

Custom toyota hilux sr 5 engineAnd believe it we do, considering the stock D4-D only makes a claimed 126kW at the crank, so this thing is likely pumping out more than double the power of a standard Hilux!

With all that power on tap, and a fair bit of weight on board, the Hilux can still pull up clean and quick because of oversized slotted discs fitted up front and an aftermarket brake booster.

At this stage the engine is mated to the standard Toyota auto tranny, and the transfer case is also in standard trim, but just about everything else on this machine has been fettled, including the front and rear diffs, which have been fitted with Eaton ELockers.
Housed beneath the Kut Snake wheel-arch flares are deep-dish 20-inch rims from Hostile Wheels, fitted with 35 x 12.5in Nitto Mud Grappler extreme terrain tyres. And ensuring there’s plenty of room for the rubber to move around is a four-inch suspension lift in addition to the two-inch body lift.

Damping is provided by Bilstein shock absorbers, and the Hilux also runs heavy-duty sway bars, Superior Engineering upper control arms and extended rear shackles. To ensure there’s not too much load placed on the CVs, the Hilux has been fitted with a diff-drop kit. Ground clearance isn’t adversely affected, as the diff still sits above the cross-member.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 undercarriageProtecting underbody components such as the sump and gearbox is an ARB Under Vehicle Protection kit, while the rear diff is shielded by a custom-made guard, designed and manufactured in-house at Pacific Installs.

The bodywork gets some protection from ARB rock sliders, an ARB rear step bar and a Rhino 4x4 frontal protection bar – the latter housing a TJM 12,000lb electric winch. All of the bar work has been powder-coated to match the fresh charcoal paintwork.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 winchThe winchis fitted with high-quality synthetic rope and is controlled via a wireless remote. In addition to the recovery points on the bar, there are extra hooks mounted directly to the vehicle’s chassis. The bar also has inbuilt LED fog lights. At the rear-end, the ARB step bar has two recovery points, and is fitted with a shackle in the tow hitch, offering loads of options when rescuing other vehicles.

One of the stand-out features of this Hilux is the Pacific Installs rear tray rack. Sanh says this universal rack will suit just about any dual-cab ute on the market, as the company supplies different brackets for different tray widths.

On this Hilux, the tray rack is fitted with custom mounts to hold two sets of Tred recovery boards and the big 35-inch spare tyre. “The spare hangs off the tray rack because the Hilux runs 35-inch tyres and the spare doesn’t fit underneath,” Sanh says.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 rear tray rackAnother advantage of moving the spare to the tray rack is that it frees up space for another special feature: an inbuilt Esky in the rear of the tub. To finish it off, the tub has a spray-in liner, and any gear that doesn’t fit inside can be put on the ARB roof rack.

In addition to the neat Rhino 4x4 bar, giving the front-end a distinctive look, is the Pacific Installs custom mesh grille, which features a carbonfibre wrap and ensures there’s plenty of airflow to that front-mounted intercooler.

The headlights have HID inserts and there’s a 20-inch Baja Designs LED light bar sorting out night-time visibility. Then there’s the roof-mounted 40-inch LED light bar, side spotlights, four underbody rock lights and three rearward-facing LED light bars over the tray. You could say this bloke likes his lighting systems!

Keeping the lights illuminated, and powering all of the other electrical accessories, is a dual-battery set-up with an inverter and Redarc BCDC charging system.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 driving mudAllowing the owner to easily operate all systems is an Ionnic LED programmable switch panel mounted on a custom roof console. This device can control up to eight separate functions and features a dimmable backlit panel, epoxy sealed receivers, on-board diagnostics and audible user feedback.

On the Hilux it’s been programmed to control all of the lighting, the ELockers and several other systems. Oh, and there’s a tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to ensure the Nittos are running the correct pressures at all times.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 interiorSitting above the Ionnic panel are two devices from Defi; a boost gauge and a gauge controller, the latter displaying information on engine revs, boost, shift indicator and more. Other interior additions include a pair of UHF transceivers and a Focal sound system with six-inch splits front and rear, amps, slim subs and more. This audio system’s screen is also hooked to a reversing camera.

Why two UHFs? “When we drive in a convoy, it’s a safety issue,” Sanh explains. “If one fails, we’ve got a back-up, or we can run dual conversations, so if we’ve got a large group of cars, one half can run on one channel and the other can run another channel, simultaneously.”

As with many Queensland-based 4x4s, this one sees plenty of action on the beach, particularly on Fraser Island, so it’s been treated with a rust inhibitor, and is also fitted with an electronic rust-proofing system.

Custom toyota hilux sr5 mud drivingFor regular tyre inflation duties, there’s an Endless Air system with a 22-litre tank and an air outlet easily accessed under the bonnet, which has been fitted with two gas struts in place of the silly standard Toyota bonnet prop. 

Despite the Hilux’s beast-like appearance, Sanh says it’s a dream to drive on and off the road. “Off-road it’s very capable,” he says. “We’ve taken it out a few times on the tracks around the Glasshouse Mountains and, yeah, it’s very capable, and it’s a very smooth and comfortable ride as well. It’s like sitting in a brand-new car doing extreme off-road…”

Custom toyota hilux sr5 hillWhile most of us would be quite happy with a Hilux just like this one, the owner of this rig isn’t finished with it yet. “He’s insatiable,” Sanh says. “He’s one of those types; a perfectionist.

So what we’ve got here, what you can see here, is not the finished product, because I’m pretty sure he will keep modifying this thing. He’s happy with it, but he always wants more, to push to that next level.”

It’s hard to imagine what will be next, but I guess some people are never satisfied.

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