Reader Adventure – Hilux Rebuild

Reader Adventure - Hilux Rebuild

For almost eight years, Stuart Queripel has been experimenting, researching, planning and plotting his dream ride. He shares his journey, which – as he is quick to point out – is still a work in progress.

the devil’s in the details

As the sun rose over the horizon, beams of sunlight streamed into my bedroom on a cool August morning, six months into the national lockdown. For the first time in a very long time, I woke up feeling as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Today marks the official start of my journey to convert my vehicle into an overlanding beast.

As the saying goes: it’s not what you know, but who you know… And for this build, I knew I would have to rely on those in the know that I knew. The build started at Thekwini Toyota in Durban with my good friend David Lucien. David has been in the motor industry for many years and, based on his advice and understanding of what my plans were for the build, we agreed that the Automatic 4×4 2.4-litre GD-6 Toyota Hilux Double Cab would best suit my needs.

Why a 2.4-litre and not a 2.8-litre, I hear you asking… I have to admit that the additional 20kW power and 50Nm peak torque in the 2.8-litre did initially tickle my fancy. Add to this the extra bells and whistles that came with the higher-spec Hilux and I almost threw caution to the wind and splurged on it. However, it ultimately came down to what I needed to build the ultimate overlanding vehicle that would fit my specific needs and the type of adventures I had planned. Besides, I did have a trick up my sleeve to increase the power and improve fuel consumption.

Having said that, the extra power is most definitely something to consider if you are planning on towing. I am a bit of a Jeremy Clarkson when it comes to caravans and trailers, though – they are just not for me as I prefer rooftop solutions. As such, the additional power wasn’t high on my priority list. The one thing that really excited me was saving my hard-earned cash on diesel, so it wasn’t long before I had Brandon May from ATM Automotive Software pay me a visit. Brandon is well-known throughout KwaZulu-Natal as the man in the know when it comes to remapping engine software. After his computer had worked its magic on my Hilux’s ECU it was purring with 130kW and 470Nm! More impressive, though, was my fuel consumption dropping to under 11 litres/100km where it has stayed ever since.

the proof is in the pudding

The time had come to put the Hilux to the test. I had heard that well-known tour guide, 4×4 driving instructor and fellow adventurer Bernie Williams was planning a trip to Lesotho. Anyone that has travelled with Bernie will tell you that you are always in for a treat. And what an epic journey it turned out to be…

If the Hilux didn’t know it was a 4×4 before this Lesotho trip, it surely knew it by the end of it. We explored for three days, up and over the Sani Pass while traversing the highest mountains in Lesotho to make our way out on the Clarens side, barely touching a tar road. The proverbial bug had bitten, and the Hilux and I were ready to put the final touches to the build and head off on many more adventures.

In next month’s edition, I will let you in on my favourite must-have overlanding accessories to make life in the bundus a little bit more comfortable. These include my Lithium-ion dual battery system of choice, the fridge I settled for and my thoughts on the various drawer systems on the market.

Rear Bumper Tyre Mount
Tyres
ARB Fitment
wheels & tyres

Now I was all set for the next important upgrade: wheels and tyres. And don’t we as overlanders and adventurers know what a minefield trying to choose the right tyres for your vehicle can be. There are so many factors to take into account, and everyone seems to be an expert.

So once again, I set out to find and speak to a real expert – someone who has years of experience in the tyre industry and is an adventurer at heart. Having always been a fan of Kingsley Holgate and the great work he has done on the African continent, I thought it would be worth digging a little deeper and finding out a bit more about the tyres he trusts.

My investigations lead me to the office of Georg Schramm, CEO at TyreLife Solutions. It didn’t take him long to convince me that the new Cooper Discoverer AT3 LT was the way to go. Designed for 30% off-road and 70% on-road driving, you should get 80 000 plus kilometres from these tyres (with proper care, rotating and balancing every 8 000km).

We wrapped the 265/70-R17 Coopers around a set of ProComp Predator Series 35 wheels and had them professionally balanced and installed at Supa Quick Hillcrest. The Hilux was now well on its way to becoming a real overlanding machine.

a man with a plan

If my plans were to conquer the most demanding mountain passes in South Africa and travel to some of the most remote off-the-grid locations on our continent, I realised it was time to get serious about fitting some real overlanding equipment to my Hilux. I turned to the man I knew with the most overlanding and 4×4 driving experience. Not only does he own South Africa’s most successful chain of 4×4 and camping accessory outlets (4×4 Mega World), he is also an off-road racing driver, a collector of Toyota Land Cruisers, a husband and a father. Deon Venter, a man I have the greatest amount of respect for, is without a doubt the one to have in your corner if you want to ensure a seamless rebuild project.

He was keen to get involved in the build, and it wasn’t long before he had advised me on exactly what I would need for my planned adventures. We immediately started with an Old Man Emu (OME) suspension upgrade. We replaced the front coils, the rear leaf springs and the shocks all round. The Hilux gained just under 50mm lift, and the change in ride comfort was immediately noticeable. Initially, we replaced the leaf springs with a 150kg load rating as I hadn’t fitted any of the bumpers yet. One of the most significant advantages of fitting OME is adding additional leaf springs when you add more weight to the vehicle. This was easily done at the 4×4 Mega World branch in Hillcrest while the front and rear bumpers were installed.

 

 
IMG 9980
Rear Bumper Install
IMG 9879
Rear Bumper
ARB Fitment
IMG 5482

I was advised to opt for the Desert Armour rear bumper with the swing arm spare tyre mount. If you have ever tried to change a Hilux tyre, you will know just how much of a pleasure it is to have your spare mounted at the back of your vehicle and not underneath it. The Desert Armour rear bumper has all that I needed and more: a tow bar, additional rear brake and indicator lights for increased safety and, most importantly, recovery and hi-lift jack points.

When it came to the bull bar, I really wanted something that would enhance the vehicle’s look but would not compromise the its safety. ARB is known across the globe for producing the safest airbag compatible aftermarket bull bars.

After spending many nights trolling the web and all the social media platforms, reading articles and watching countless YouTube videos, the ARB Summit Bar stood out. It ticked all the boxes I was looking for in a front bumper.

The 4×4 Mega World team spent most of the day fitting and aligning the Summit Bar and removing the rear leaf springs. These were re-greased, all U-bolts were tightened and an additional blade was fitted.

In next month’s edition, I will let you in on my favourite must-have overlanding accessories to make life in the bundus a little bit more comfortable. These include my Lithium-ion dual battery system of choice, the fridge I settled for and my thoughts on the various drawer systems on the market.

Credit:  Adventure Africa