Toyota N80 Hilux: 2017 Custom 4x4OTY contender

Modifying a four-wheel drive can be a tricky business.

Go too crazy with a big lift, huge tyres and other ‘radical’ mods, and you suddenly have a rig that goes against a 4×4’s DNA and is totally impractical.


That’s one thing Joe Emmerton wanted to avoid when building up his N80 Hilux. For Joe, his modified tourer had to be tough and practical – he’s a mad-keen fisho and hunter, so the Hilux needed to get to some remote places to pursue his hobbies.

After opting for the top-end SR5 and ticking the colour-coding and premo interior, Joe set to work on tweaking the Toyota for its future work.

The standard Hilux front struts were tossed in favour of a schmick four-inch lift setup – Bilstein monotube dampers and a set of custom-rate H&R coil springs from Heasman Steering and Suspension – and added more height via a 50mm bodylift from VMN. All this gave the Hilux a ride height 150mm higher than stock.


To rein in binding CV joints due to the big lift, Joe fitted a diff-drop setup from Phat Bars and heavy-duty adjustable arms from CalOffroad that combined with an adjustable OME-style ball joint to bring the front-end geometry back closer to spec. The suspension had re-arched rear springs, Bilstein remote reservoir 5160 dampers, and Snake Racing extended shackles for a four-inch lift at the back.

“On dirt roads and corrugations, having the remote res in the rear keeps it consistent and doesn’t fade,” Joe reckons.

The final touch was a set of 305/65R17 Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ mud terrains with 17-inch Dynamic D-Hole steel wheels in a -30 offset.


Other sensible modifications include a Locker Anytime module, which allows Joe to engage the rear locker in high or low range, as well as rear-wheel drive, ideal for slippery boat ramps.

Up front is an AFN4X4 hoopless bullbar fitted with a Runva 11XP 11,000lb winch, underbelly Phat Bars bash plates and a set of angled rock sliders, with the stock rear bumper lifted 100mm via Dowtech lift brackets.

The Hilux tray is fitted with a cool Rhino-Rack low-profile tray-mount rack system, with a Howling Moon rooftop tent.



Momentum is upped thanks to a four-inch Fabulous Fabrications snorkel and three-inch exhaust from Arclite Engineering. Just Autos (QLD) tweaked the donk for 50 per cent more torque, improving fuel consumption as well.

The interior reflects Joe’s practicality, with just a GME UHF and Engel fridge fitted.

Sensible improvements aimed at the owner’s needs make this one of the smartest modified rigs we’ve seen.

Article from 4X4 Australia

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