While the guys down in the Melbourne office have been playing around with their shiny new Ford Ranger, throwing every accessory possible at it to build the ultimate tourer, I thought it would be a bit of fun to see what could be achieved with a bit more of a budget-conscious build.
I’ve started with a tried and true Aussie favourite in the form of a KUN26 Toyota Hilux 3.0-litre turbo-diesel manual dual cab. To keep costs down, the vehicle was purchased sight-unseen from an ex-fleet auction for $10K. Admittedly, this was a bit of a risk, but fortunately once the car arrived and we gave it the once over it turned out to be a solid purchase, with a good service history and only minor cosmetic wear and tear.
With 150,000km showing on the odometer, the Hilux’s engine required a timing belt change, and the wheels and tyres have definitely seen better days. The Hilux ticked all the boxes when it came to starting with a good platform to build a solid tourer on, and I reckon it will give Matt’s Ranger a run for its money at a fraction of the price.
APAC 4x4 on the Sunshine Coast has graciously offered its workshop and will be helping with all the fitment and advice throughout the build, and they’ll also build a custom tray for the Hilux. The team at APAC 4x4 offer complete vehicle fit-outs, custom fabrication services and have been manufacturing high-tech systems for the defence, energy and telecommunications sectors for many years.
There’s a shedload of accessories available for the popular KUN26 Hilux, and we kicked things off by fitting a heap of EFS equipment including an Adventure Stockman bullbar, a 10,000lb Recon R10 winch, nine-inch Vividmax LED driving lights, and a 19-inch Vividmax LED light bar.
4x4 history: 50 years of the Hilux
With a quick trip up to the Glasshouse Mountains to give the Hilux an off-road shakedown, it soon became clear why this model has been a staple for off-road enthusiasts for many years. The engine provides decent performance and the Hilux offers a great combination of off-road capability and on-road ride comfort.
On our example, braking performance is questionable, ground clearance is on the low side and the suspension has seen better days, and after driving a few rutted-out hills it became evident a rear locker would greatly aid off-road capability. And despite the reasonable performance on offer, the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel could always use a power upgrade.
There are plenty of other upgrades for the Hilux on the agenda, including a TJM suspension kit, the aforementioned APAC 4x4 custom tray, a TJM Pro Locker, a Yakima LockNLoad roof rack system, new wheels and tyres, and a performance upgrade.
The complete ownership adventure on 4x4 Shed
4x4 Shed Log: Toyota Hilux budget-build
Current mileage: 150,000km
Date acquired: August 2019
Mileage since last update: N/A
Average fuel consumption: N/A