Off-Roading Modifications 

Welcome back folks.  Today I wanted to talk about one of my main hobbies, which is based around a long-standing project I’ve been meaning to get around to.  I’ve just been so busy with other business commitments I haven’t had much leisure time to get stuck in to it.  I’m hoping to get a bit more time this coming month so it’s time to start planning a little.  I’ve had an 80 series Land Cruiser for a couple of years now and I’m trying to get enough cash together to kit it out, make some modifications to it, so that I can spend a lot more of my leisure time off-roading. 

I happen to live in the perfect environment for off-roading: lots of dirt, mountains, jungle trails, creeks, streams, and rivers, rocky terrain and all of it surrounded by incredible wildlife and mind blowing scenery.

Land Cruiser 80 

So let’s get started.  The Land Cruiser we’re looking at is a standard 1991 80 series 4 litre straight six gasoline with automatic transmission and only one after market modification: a huge steel bull bar fitted to the front bumper, which wraps around the front corner light clusters.  The engine is (finally) mechanically sound, the body work is in good shape, the brakes are ok, the suspensions ok as standard but that will be one of the first things I’ll be looking to upgrade, and the transmission is all in order.  The hi-lo ratio box is fine and all drives well off-road so far.  I just want to do more and go deeper on my mini expeditions. 

So, after speaking with many other off-road enthusiasts and after consulting a few local manufacturers and experts, this is in order, what I’m looking to do to make the necessary modifications give me exactly what I’m looking for:

Suspension 

The most common (and necessary if you want to go big league) first step in any Land Cruiser modification is with the suspension.  Land Cruisers come out of the factory with a very solid suspension set up as standard but then they also have to factor in the use of family road trips so the stock setup is well balanced.

Land Cruiser Modifications 

Typically, making modifications to the suspension for serious off-roading we’re looking at giving the whole thing a lift. This can be anything from 1” to 4” plus and all of it gets more and more expensive the more you increase the lift.  For me, a 2” – 2.5” lift will be perfect.  This should cost me in the region of between $900-$1000, which is a bit out of budget but still an essential part of my project.  Luckily, you can get your hands on a whole plethora of things these days using quality second hand classifieds ads sites.  I’ve already had a dig around and found a couple of fantastic deals on second hand Toyota suspension kits.  Generally, the lift kits comprise shocks, springs and an additional steering damper raising the whole vehicle in its entirety off the ground giving that valuable extra ground clearance.

Rear Spare Wheel Access 

The next thing I’ll need to look at is getting a tubular frame fitted to the rear of the vehicle so I can take the spare that usually sits underneath the car and reposition it on the back of the car.  This gives much better access to make an emergency change, especially if the vehicle is grounded in mud or sand – very difficult to climb under and start trying to remove the spare.   While I’m at it I’ll also get myself an extra spare to sit next to it, just in case Murphy’s Law tries playing it’s hand once I’ve got the spare fitted.  This modification can be a lifesaver and can save hours of messing around. 

Lights 

As the Land Cruiser is around 25 years old the standard lights are shocking.  Even after adding spotlights it still won’t be enough so it’s best to replace the whole front light cluster with modern Land Cruiser units (which should only cost $200 or so) plus a couple of after market spots, or even better, a long strip of strong LEDs across the top of the windscreen.  These are relatively inexpensive and light the road up beautifully, making any potential hazards clearly visible.

Land Cruiser Lights 

Aside from all that, I might need to replace the old exhaust, which is possibly still the original, as that’s starting to blow a bit and lose pressure.  Then I should be done. 

I’m hoping to get all this done in about three weeks.  The summer will almost be here by then and I’ll be able to get stuck in to the great outdoors once more.  Anyway I’ll keep you posted on the progress.  Thanks for dropping by folks.  Until next time..