Project Toyota HiLux build: Part 1

4X4 Australia magazine has a project car – a 2010 Hilux which, once we’re finished kitting it up, we’ll be giving away to a lucky reader. Stay tuned and follow the build over the coming months as we reveal details of the competition that could make this expedition rig yours. 

Click here for your chance to win 4x4 Australia's Custom Toyota Hilux.

We’re building a project car that one lucky 4x4 Australia reader could be driving in 2016. That’s right, we’re transforming this plain-Jane base model Hilux into something you’ll be proud to own and drive thanks to a swag of goodies from all our best advertisers.

The ex-PMG Lux is the perfect blank canvas on which to create a trick bush tourer. It’s a 2010 model SR with a D4D 3.0 engine, 5-speed ‘box and 162,000km on the clock. We picked it up with a full Toyota service history; it just had the cam-belt done at the country Victoria dealership where it served its apprenticeship and, frankly, it drives too tight and feels too good to mess with.

But that’s not our style. The Lux will be refreshed from the ground up and will soon be rolling on Cooper’s new STT Pro tyres mounted on ATX alloys tucked inside TJM flares. It will also have an EFS suspension kit; front and rear bars and rock sliders, also from TJM; a Mean Mother winch; a high-performance brake upgrade from Marks 4WD; a secondary fuel filter from Flash Lube; MSA canvas seat covers; Lightforce LED lighting; a cargo area fit-out with a roof tent from Ironman 4x4; and whatever else we can persuade our supporters to throw at it. The loaded Lux will be a sweet piece of kit and we’re already ruing the day when we have to hand the keys over to a lucky reader.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. We bought the Hilux from Orix Fleet Leasing with the help of Red Plum Automotive brokers, who found the right vehicle for us. The first port of call was Terrain Tamer, where its resident Toyota 4x4 expert Allan Gray gave the Lux a once-over and told us what else it needed.

“I drive a similar model”, Allan says, “but this one goes very well. A couple of things wrong with it – it’s got a leaking oil seal on the front drive shaft that needs replacing and these common-rail diesels definitely need a second fuel filter to keep dirty fuel out of the high-pressure fuel pump.”

With that said, it was straight up on the hoist and Allan soon had the off-side front drive shaft out to replace the leaky seal with one from the extensive range of replacement parts in the Don Kyatt catalogue. The oil in the diff looked freshly changed, reflecting the well-serviced history of this car.

Back on deck and under the bonnet, Allan got to work fitting the secondary fuel filter kit. These are offered with a model-specific bracket to make the install as easy as possible. On the Lux the bracket sits up near where the second batter will go, but still leaves room for it. Clever.

Allan is passionate about getting clean fuel to your diesel engine and says there are plenty of examples of expensive repairs caused by dirty fuel. “We speak to workshops and vehicle owners every day and they are reporting cases of serious damage to diesel pumps, injectors and engines, largely caused by contaminated fuel. Most of these dramas could have been avoided.”

The standard fuel filter filters at around five microns while an auxiliary filter, such as the Flash Lube one, filters at 30 microns. The Flash Lube set up also has a glass bowl at the bottom where you can quickly see if any contaminants, including water, have been caught in the filter. You can also add an optional warning light to mount in the vehicle cab to alert you of contaminants.

At $210 for the filter and $250 for the Hilux mounting bracket, we see this as cheap insurance against contaminated fuel and the resulting expensive engine repairs. We were going to replace the element in the OE fuel filter, but upon removal it looked new, so now there’s a complete Terrain Tamer filter kit (worth $55) waiting in the tray for the lucky winner of the car to install at its next service.


There are more important things to do than waste time with car salesmen.

Experiences with classifieds and car dealers are never pleasant, but we’re happy to say that there is a better option: a car broker. Car brokers can take care of all the unpleasantries, save you time, and find you the right car with the best deal. If you meet a good broker, you shouldn’t need to do much more than sign the papers, pick up the vehicle from a car yard, or wait for it at home – some brokers will actually organise to have the vehicle dropped to your driveway, so you might not need to step into a car saleroom at all.

When we put word out that we were looking for a Hilux, a 4X4 Au friend recommended Red Plum Automotive. Based in Brisbane, Red Plum can find a vehicle for you anywhere in Australia, and once we let them know what we needed, Red Plum’s Tony Kerr got back to us with several vehicle options, based on a thorough nation-wide search.

Tony found the model we were after, and met our budget and specific needs. Even the Hiluxes that didn’t make the cut were impressive machines. A lot were rejected, however, because of high mileage, poor service histories or obvious abuse.

As it turned out, a suitable candidate was found not far from 4X4 Australia HQ. And after we checked it out and took it for a test drive the deal was done, and we reckon we got a good-un.

While Red Plum found the right used car for us, they can also source new and used cars for private or business buyers, and the service doesn’t end there.

“We are with you for the duration of ownership and will check in with you from time to time to be assured that both your vehicle and ownership experience have lived up to expectation,” company director Christopher Lee says.

Red Plum not only helps with finding the vehicle, but can also help with finding finance, aftermarket and vehicle servicing, detailing and trade-ins.

It’s a one-stop shop for all your vehicle needs and it takes the hassle and time-wasting out of buying. Tony sure made it a lot easier for us.

For more info or to make an enquiry, head to:

Terrain Tamer
Address: (HQ) 245 Sunshine Rd Tottenham, VIC 3012
Phone: 1300 888 444

Red Plum Automotive
Address: 40 Prospect St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
Phone: (07) 3252 8865

Click here for your chance to win 4x4 Australia's Custom Toyota Hilux.

Want to see more of our Project Hilux build? Check out the below:


Get the latest info on all things 4X4 Australia by signing up to our newsletter.