Unsealed 4X4 Vault: Custom HiLux with the works!

ByWes WhitworthMay 26, 2020
Unsealed 4X4 Vault: Custom HiLux with the works!

When you want to build up a custom HiLux and you’re one of those blokes who can’t leave anything alone, chances are you’re going to have a list of mods four-pages long.

That’s exactly what Jeremy has done, building this up to what would arguably have to be one of the most capable and well-built custom HiLux we’ve seen in a long time. Suffice to say this thing tackles just about anything thrown at it, can happily go ‘off-grid’ for weeks at a time, and is still on daily duties, so we thought it time to drag this puppy out of the Unsealed 4X4 Vault.

We caught up with Jeremy at Kinkuna Beach where we got to crawl all over it, and he even gave us a four-page print out of mods for your reading and viewing pleasure.

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The vehicle

Having bought the HiLux brand-spanking back in 2014, Jeremy wasted no time getting it built exactly how he wanted it, and with all the bits most of us dream of – just finding places to put all of this stuff had us stumped until we got to see it.

This Lux is built to take Jeremy to Fraser every other weekend, and yet is tough enough to walk through the infamous Pine Creek trails in Bundaberg, and it really needs to be seen to be believed.

From the suspension components used to the engine bay mods, to getting more fuel into the 1KD to the complete fit-out in the back, he’s not left much untouched.

This is Jeremy’s second HiLux, so he had a good idea of what he wanted to do with the build.

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The mods

First things first on Jez’s custom HiLux – the bar work. Jeremy’s running a TJM T3 single-hoop bullbar up front, with a set of Southern Cross Fab Works sliders covering the sills, and an ARB rear bar with swing-away tyre carrier. In the front bar he’s got a Runva 12,000lb winch and a set of SA LED spotties.

Underneath there’s a Phat Bars high-clearance bash plate looking after the sump and diff, with a TJM Pro Locker locking the rear centre up. Diff ratios have been swapped out to 4.56:1 to bring things closer to standard after throwing the 35s under it.

To the suspension, Jeremy’s fitted a set of Bilstein 2-4” adjustable coil-overs with EFS coils, while Superior Engineering extended shackles and EFS springs hold it all together at the rear-end. For just that much more clearance there’s a 2” VMN body lift kit, which comes with fuel-filler extender, steering linkage extension, body blocks and radiator drop brackets. Keeping the suspension geometry as close to standard as possible, Jeremy has thrown in a set of Cal Off-Road upper adjustable control arms and Monster Rides diff drop arms. There is also a set of Performance Suspension outer hi-lift CV boots. The CV’s then run down to a set of Fuel Boost 16×8 alloy rims, wrapped in BFG KM2s in 315/75R16.

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Peering into the engine bay we found a high-flow air box, filter and front mount with a piping kit, all from PSICO, an IHI F55V turbo, NPC heavy duty clutch, 30 per cent bigger injectors, and a Shop Monster ECU with attached scan gauge and throttle controller. After having it all tuned up with the extra bolt-ons, Shane at 1KD Performance in Bundaberg managed to drag a whopping 190hp (140kW) and 610Nm out of the little 1KD on the 315s! He’s also got the typical dual-battery controller with the extra battery tucked up and out of the way.

Up onto the roof, Jeremy’s got a Darche rooftop tent to the rear over the canopy, an ARB Tradesman roof rack over the cab, 42” LED light bar across the front, with a 270-degree wing awning on one side and the high-lift jack and shovel holder over the other. Out the back of the rack, he’s got a set of Stedi 20W work lights for camping  and 6 x 10W work lights around the rest of the roof.

Into the cab, there are more switches than you’d know what to do with. From locker switches to spotties, to winch and fridge. Jeremy’s also got the ECU mounted to the trans tunnel, with the throttle controller over by the right kick panel. You’ll find a boost and EGT gauge in the pillar pod, with a Uniden UHF looking after comms. Jeremy’s also added an ARB fridge monitor, and a winch controller port up on the A-pillar (we thought that was a pretty neat idea).

Now the canopy is where things get a little interesting, if not a little stupid. If there was ever a bloke who could squeeze every last millimetre of room out of a canopy setup, Jeremy is that bloke, especially considering it’s a style-side tub and canopy, not a reasonably square alloy box job.

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It starts with a set of Outback 4WD drawers on the bottom, a 60L ARB fridge in its own cage with a rather neat way of not jamming up the cable, stubbie holders holder next to that and a bottle opener mounted to the wing. Directly behind the fridge cage, you’ve got a Travel Buddy 12v oven, ciggy and USB sockets everywhere, a set of speakers out the back that run from the extra CD player in the tub, separate from the internal CD player. On the side of the fridge slide you’ll find a couple of handheld UHFs, as well as the water-tank outlet and air-tank outlet, the latter with its own ARB compressor separate from the locker setup.

Around the other side of the canopy, Jeremy has built a full-blown electrical box that houses his Projecta DC-DC charger, fuse panel, remote for the 3km of strip lighting he’s got in there, as well as a BM-1 Battery monitor, Kenwood head unit, Alpine speakers, Clarion amplifier and around 400 switches. Oh, he’s also added a set of computer fans on the box to stop it overheating when cranking out the tunes, plus fire extinguishers just in case. Aside from all the light bars everywhere, he’s also fitted a poly and stainless cutting/cooking top to the tailgate.

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Jez’s advice to anyone wanting to do a similar build… and Wes’ final thoughts.

Jeremy’s advice for anyone building up a custom HiLux like this is to take your time, do it properly and do it how you want it. Don’t mess around buying too much “off the shelf stuff”, because it often can be done better to your own requirements.

Jeremy says a built auto and standalone ECU is next on the cards for the Lux, as he takes it further and further off-road the auto just makes it that much easier.

It’s not often we see a custom HiLux done to the level in which this thing has been built; we usually see them built as tourers, work trucks, dailies or play rigs. Jeremy has managed to hit every one of them on the head and, truth be told, we’re looking forward to when he decides he wants to build another new custom HiLux, and we get to see the new build… though maybe not for a few years yet.

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