Unsealed 4X4 Vault: 80 Series LandCruiser

ByWes WhitworthMay 4, 2020
Unsealed 4X4 Vault: 80 Series LandCruiser

It’s a bit hard to get out and about to shoot custom rigs right now, so here’s an amazing 80 Series LandCruiser from the Unsealed 4X4 Vault that looks as good as it goes.

Finding a custom 80 Series that has been built up to be capable and yet still look good is a pretty big ask. There are a million out there with bashed-in panels, faded paint, more clearcoat off than on, and generally looking their age.

Getting a spot in Unsealed 4X4 is a pretty big deal – doubly so for an old 80 Series – if for no other reason than they really need to be something special. We just happened to find one rolling across the Burnett River in Pine Creek on a recent trip and we had to shoot it!

The Vehicle

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Finding a reasonably unmolested 80 is quite a feat unto itself, and finding a ’97 with a 1HZ 4.2-litre diesel donk in this good nick is essentially unheard of, and is exactly why Andrew and Sam snapped it up.

They got the old girl with 317k on the clock, a pretty standard old 2” lift kit and an aftermarket turbo with a water-to-air intercooler. It didn’t stay like that for very long!

Their favourite place to take the 80 is to Fraser Island, which is just an hour’s drive down the coast, so there were a bunch of things that needed to get done to Andrew’s rig so it’d do Fraser without a worry… and in style.

Andrew works as a boily, so he has a truck he uses for work, allowing him to keep this beast locked up and use it solely as a touring rig for the family, and for weekend trips over to the great sandy island just down the road.

The power mods

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Air-to-air intercooler from an XR6 Turbo.

With the 18 pages of modifications listed on this custom 80 Series, we’ll start with the go-fast bits!

As we said above, Andrew’s 80 had an aftermarket turbo and water-to-air intercooler setup when he got it. Sure, it worked, but for Andrew it just couldn’t flow the air and boost he wanted to run safely enough. So, like all upstanding Aussie blokes, he went and bought just about the angriest turbo and intercooler he could get his mitts on. Enter a TD05 18G Kinugawa turbo, with manifold to suit the big TD05 flange, and an XR6 Turbo cooler core, which had new end-tanks bunged on to line up with the 1HZ’s in and out manifolds. The XR6 cooler was a bit of an afterthought, as Andrew was hoping the water-to-air jobby would be enough for what he was doing, but after seeing temps starting to creep up with the new turbo and tune, it came off and was replaced with the massive XR6 cooler.

From there the 80 got a rather free-flowing exhaust system, with 3” mandrel-bent pipe from the dump, all the way to the back – who needs mufflers on a diesel anyway, right? On the intake side, he’s got an Airflow snorkel running into the factory airbox (with a 1HD-T lid), which he told us was going to be replaced with a 4” stainless steel job rather shortly.

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Airflow snorkel feeds into a factory air-box with a 1HD-T lid.

All of this was thrown together by Andrew, and he had Shane from 1KD Performance in Bundaberg dial the fuel up to suit the mods, to get the most out of the 1HZ with the hairdryer bolted to the side of it.

Otherwise, under the bonnet you’ll find a second battery, four-row alloy radiator, boost controller and breathers set up for everything. Being a ’97 model, he’s managed to keep the ABS setups, too.

Moving under the 80, Andrew has thrown a set of Suspension Stuff flexi coils in the 3.5” variety front and rear, paired with the Tuff Dog Big Bore 9-stage adjustable shocks, Superior Engineering SuperFlex arms, and extended bump stops to stop bashing the tyres up into the guards. So far he tells us with the bump stops and Flexi coils he has had no hassles with travel or scrubbing at all.

On the powertrain side of things, you’ll find a set of TJM Pro Lockers front and rear, Harris HardCover diff guards, standard full-time 4WD with the viscous hub, and a set of 285/75R16 Kumhos on genuine Blue Marlin 80 Series alloys.

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Suspension Stuff flexi coils and Tuff Dog Big Bore 9-stage adjustable shocks give a 3.5” lift.

The mods – Inside and out

There are plenty of other mods to Andrew and Sam’s custom 80 Series, both inside and out.

Bar wise it’s got a Roo Systems steel bar up front, housing 9” LED spotties, and fog lights mounted in the bar, with an Ironman Monster 12,000lb winch on recovery duty. Out the back you’ll find a Powerful 4X4 rear bar, with a set of 4” work lights attached.

Back up the front, Andrew’s done a complete LED headlight conversion, thrown an 1100mm single-row combo LED light bar on the roof rack, and hung a Kings awning off the side.

Heading into the cab, Andrew has really built the back out for touring. With more 12V outlets than you can poke a high-lift jack at, two fridges (he only had the beer fridge along for this trip – it was a late Sunday arvo… ), a set of Titan drawers and wiring and fuse box to suit.

Moving forward into the business-end of the interior, Andrew’s got a switch and a gadget for pretty much everything short of launching cruise missiles. From the quad power adapter to the brake controller, to the VMS telling him where to go, through to the ABR Sidewinder battery controller… then there’s the Koso thermometer to keep an eye on temps, an Eonon head unit looking after the tunes, Autometer pyro and boost gauges, and a Uniden UHF looking after the comms.

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Harris HardCase diff protection.

Final thoughts and advice from Andrew and Sam

So there you have it! One of the tougher 80 Series builds we’ve seen for a while. Andrew wanted to thank Harris HardCase for the diff protection, and 1KD Performance for the dyno and tuning work.

Andrew’s advice to anyone looking to do the same, “Keep an eye out for other trucks and what they’ve got, to get ideas from on how and why.”

We’ve certainly taken a few tips from your custom 80 Series, Andrew. Thanks for letting us crawl all over it!

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This 80 is as tidy as they get.