IT’S been a while since I’ve spent much time on the ol’ Cruiser, but the odd job has kept me interested in it.
Something that was obvious on the last night run I did in it was that lighting technology has come a long way in recent years. Someone had done an H4 upgrade to the car before I bought it and I’d upgraded the globes in them, but one of them popped while out on a trip.
The Hella HID driving lights I fitted many years ago might have been the duck’s guts in lighting back in their day, but they were outshone on this trip by the smaller, more modern LED lights on other vehicles in the convoy. So a lighting upgrade was called for and we spoke to our mates at Narva for a solution.
I had a set of seven-inch LED replacement lights ready to fit, but Narva’s Jake Smith insisted I try out the company’s latest versions.
These are a direct bolt-in replacement light for any vehicle that uses a seven-inch round lamp and they have a H4-style connector so they should plug straight in to your existing wiring harness. They include LED lamps for both high and low beam, plus a row across the middle that serves as a daytime running light or parker light.
Unfortunately, LED lights are not always compatible with an older car’s wiring, and that’s the case with the Cruiser, so we went with a harness from Ultraflex 4x4.
Again, the Ultraflex harness uses H4 plugs and connects in between your vehicle’s original harness and the new lights. It is made for a few different Cruisers so has plugs for four headlights like on a 62 or an 80 Series and makes allowances for Toyota’s positive switching and any needs for the LED lights.
The Ultraflex harness made fitting the Narva lights a simple plug-and-play affair, and the improved lighting is literally like night and day. The only thing I haven’t sorted is the DRL, but I’ll get to that one day; nothing’s a rush on this car. The important part is that I now have bright, 6000K white light to see the track or road ahead.
LIGHT TEST: LED driving light comparison
For driving lights, I went with a set of Narva’s Ultima 180 LEDs which fit neatly within the Cruiser’s bullbar. These lights pack a lot of punch for their small size, employing 24 5-watt Cree chips for a total of 120W output from each ‘hybrid’ beam lamp to give a great view of the road ahead and out to the sides. At 1 lux at 600m, they might not reach as far ahead as the old HIDs, but the light has sufficient reach and is far broader, cleaner and more usable.
The Narva Ultima 180 kit comes with its own harness, so again it was a plug-and-play affair to get them working. I think I stripped out enough old ‘owner installed’ wiring from the car to run a lap around the globe, and the Narva and Ultraflex harnesses are much neater. The LED lights might be the most high-tech items on the old Cruiser, but with a set of replacement tail-lamps from Terrain Tamer also fitted, the lights on the old bus are far improved.
Inside the Cruiser I pulled the seats out and sent the driver’s one away to get a new cushion fitted and fix a couple of small rips. With the seats removed I ripped out the old carpet and installed sound-deadening insulation and new vinyl floor coverings from Tru-Fit Carpets.
I also fitted a Milford cargo barrier that I picked up from the hard rubbish. It’s actually for a Ford Mondeo wagon but fits perfect in the Middy. I only had to shorten the top mount brackets to fasten them to the factory roll bar/seat belt mounts. With a refurbished seat, tidier and quieter cabin and much improved lighting, the ol’ bus is ready to hit the tracks again.