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4x4 building to a budget: $20,000+

By Dean Mellor, 29 Sep 2016 Gear

4x4 building to a budget: $20,000+

Maximise the potential of your adventure machine

Spending more than $60K on a new four-wheel drive and then dropping another $20K at the local 4x4 store isn’t just for the rich and famous.

Follow our budget building guides to make your 4x4 the ultimate tourer

In fact, it’s quite easy to spend well in excess of $20,000 on accessories and modifications to tailor a four-wheel drive to match your needs, real or imagined. With a little planning and a few smart choices, you can transform a standard, low-spec wagon or ute into something that will end up more capable, comfortable and versatile than some far more expensive luxury 4x4s. And the best thing is it’ll have the features you want and none of the stuff you can do without.

Outback tourers who’ve already spent $10K on the accessories we’ve outlined in parts 1, 2 & 3 will now have a vehicle well-suited to the ‘big trip’ – but with another $10K (or more) they can really go to town – or leave it, as the case may be.

4X4-NAVARA-HI-COUNTRY-IRONMAN-285Some useful luxuries include a rooftop tent, an awning, roof cargo bags or roof pods, a navigation system, a battery charging system, infotainment, solar panels, inverters and power outlets, hot water systems, showers, auxiliary lighting, swingout wheel carriers, hi-lift jack holders, and top-spec suspension components.

Still got money to burn? How about some engine mods such as a turbo, chipped ECU and three-inch mandrel bent exhaust? Or how about an engine conversion? Then you could fit a rock-crawling transfer case, lower or higher final drive ratio and portal axles: the sky – and your credit card – really is the limit.

Hema 79Cruiser 0815_451We've featured hundreds of modified vehicles in 4X4 Australia over the years, so there’s no shortage of inspiration to draw upon. One of the most impressive – and expensive – tourers we’ve featured is Hema Maps’ LandCruiser 79 Double Cab, jam-packed with goodies designed to make it self-sufficient in remote Australia for weeks at a time.

It’s had its chassis stretched and rear track widened to improve on- and off-road comfort, loadcarrying capability, handling and safety.

Stretching the budget even further is Icon’s Land Rover Defender, which cost around US$300,000 to build. It runs a 6.2- litre LS3 V8 mated to a four-speed auto gearbox and, as well as custom suspension, it’s loaded with custom-made parts, from door handles to air-conditioning vents.

Fb 0512Mod GU Patrol _ECUtalkIt’d be nice to have an unlimited budget to build something really special, but you can achieve a hell of a lot with just $5K.

And if you plan your build wisely, there’s nothing stopping you from adding accessories and making modifications as you can afford them.


Fridge/freezer: $700-$1700
Dual-battery system: $1000+
Rooftop tents: $1000-$2000
Awnings: $100-$400
Roof cargo bags: $70-$250
Roof pods: $300-$600
Space case: $300-$600
Navigation systems: $600
Hot water/shower: $200-$300

*Prices vary depending on quality, manufacturer and model. This list is a general guide only.