80 Series Land cruiser build up; creating a tough tourer

EDIT: We’ve since sold the 80 series Land Cruiser, and moved to an Isuzu Dmax.

You can see the full build here – Isuzu Dmax Touring Build. This decision was not made lightly, and I wrote a post covering exactly why we made the change, along with what we like, and don’t like: Why we swapped from an 80 series Land Cruiser to a Dmax.


A couple of years ago we decided to sell the old Hilux and upgrade to something that was a bit more suited for touring. We had a good idea of what we wanted, and picked up our new ride, a white 1990 80 series with the factory turbo engine.

It had a heap of goodies on it already, including a fully rebuilt engine with only 70k on the clock! From the day we bought it, we set about adding accessories to suit what we wanted the vehicle for; a tough tourer. Here is a before and after shot:

80 series land cruiser build
A few years ago, vs how it sits now

On the face of it you can see there have been a lot of changes. Dig a little deeper though, and you find a list of 80 series mods that I’m sometimes a bit scared to run through! However, I’ve added photos of every single modification done to Our 80 series below. Let me know if you’ve got any questions!

I mentioned above our 80 came with some great accessories already fitted, many of which we kept:

Safari snorkel
Safari Snorkels have a great reputation, and I was glad to see this had been fitted in a previous life
Safari Intercooler 80 series
Even better was the safari front mount intercooler; score!
80 series safari intercooler
These are tight, but work very well
Redarc SBI12
A dual battery setup, managed by a Redarc SBI12, which has been great so far
A 5″ DVD player, running Ozi explorer
Turbo timer all hooked up to allow the turbo to cool after a high speed run
Aftermarket fuel filter
Aftermarket fuel filter
12V outlets
Several additional 12V outlets
Full length aluminium roof rack
A full length aluminium roof rack. I’d get nothing else

We’d bought a very good platform to work from, which had been relatively well cared for. We removed some modifications, added some of our own and modified some of the existing gear.

Below are the modifications we’ve done over the last couple of years!

New dump pipe
The first modification was to replace the factory exhaust with a new 3″ mandrel bent Beaudesert Exhaust
Beaudesert Exhaust review
Earlier turbo spool, more power, better economy and a much nicer sounding vehicle

Installing the3 inch mandrel bent Beaudesert Exhaust was a great move. They are top quality, and work very well. The biggest surprise for me was finding that the factory exhaust had been squashed quite badly at some stage in its previous life, which was great to remove!

Even just looking at the dump pipe, you can see that the Beaudesert unit is a lot better flowing, and is built with quality in mind. It came with a port for the EGT probe, which was a score!

Stainless snorkel grate
The plastic snorkel grill was broken, so I replaced it with a stainless one off eBay
Part time kit installation
Next up was a Mark’s adaptors part time kit
Part time hubs 80 series
Manual locking hubs

The main reason for the part time kit was to remove some of the driveline backlash that the 80 had. Most 80’s are constant 4WD, and after having done 340,000km in constant 4WD, there was minor wear in a lot of different components; differentials, axles, cv’s, tail shafts, transfer case and gearbox. When all of the little amounts of play are added up, it had quite a bit of backlash, which made changing gears a bit of a pain.

Any older 4WD is going to have a fair bit of wear and tear, and requires a lot of work to bring it back to factory condition. If you want to see the perfect example of this, check out the FJ45 restoration that a mate did, bring a 47 year old 4WD back to as new condition!

After installing the Marks Adaptors Part time kit, the steering changes dramatically (for the better, in my opinion), a significant amount of backlash was gone (due to only driving 2 wheels instead of 4) and it seemed to respond better. The only downfall of course, is that you now have to get out and manually lock the hubs, but I can live with that.

People suggest that you get better fuel economy, which may be possible (but negligible), but you most certainly save on some wear and tear.

On a side note, I will mention that I had the transfer case fully rebuilt a while later, and this was probably where the majority of the backlash was; it had flogged the transfer case out, and we had to source a second hand casing to build a good one.

Powerful 4x4 awning
A powerful 4×4 awning to keep us out of the weather

We grabbed the awning on special for a pretty good price, and I’ve been quite happy with it. I’ve compared it to many other brands, and to be honest they all seem very similar. This one doesn’t leak, but the stitching isn’t the best, and the waterproof taping has peeled off a little. It also didn’t come with adjustable guy ropes, but it works fine.

Differential breathers are a must, and very cheap/easy to install!

You can install diff breathers on an 80 series very easily, by visiting your local hose shop. I used Hoseco in Midland, who provided the barbed fittings, oil resistant line, hose clamps and a couple of other little fittings. A lot of people are using the hard plastic line, with push fittings, which work ok, but will eventually crack, and are not ideal for an environment that is constantly vibrating!

EGT probe
I wasn’t going to risk damage to the engine; an Exhaust Gas Temperature probe was installed
This works a treat, and makes you very aware of how much heat you are creating

A good mate of mine had installed one of these Scintex gauges in his Hilux, and I liked the fact it was digital (you don’t have to squint at an analogue gauge to work out what its actually reading!).

This has been a real eye opener; you move your foot 1mm on the accelerator and the temperature changes, instantly. This has given me a much better idea of how the engine is running, and if anything goes wrong, you know about it immediately. This includes losing coolant, engine oil, or adding too much fuel. The gauge was flawless, but I did have to replace the probe after the cable burnt out.

Narva headlight upgrade
The lighting in the 80 series Land Cruisers is downright dangerous. Narva and ARB came to the rescue
Old vs new headlights
The factory sealed beams next to Narva’s replacement
Old spotties vs new lightbar
Out with the old Halogen spotties and in with a new Narva LED light bar
ARB wiring loom upgrade
ARB upgraded wiring looms to eliminate voltage drop
The new lights
The results are truly amazing

I’ve written a full post on the 80 Series light upgrade. This is a modification that I’d highly recommend; from the factory the 80 series lights are shocking on low beam.

I was intent on keeping this 4WD legal, and thus ruled out HID conversions and LED headlights immediately. This is a great way to drastically improve your vehicles lighting, without worrying about harming other road users or getting yellow stickered for an Illegal 4WD. We go into this more here; Are LED headlights legal?

ELocker traction upgrade
Twin Eaton Harrop ELockers were installed to give the ultimate traction

Installing the Eaton Harrop ELockers was one of the best moves I made. Bigger tyres and suspension lifts seem to be all the rage, but the truth is, a locker or two is so much more effective. It keeps your vehicle legal, more economical, reduces stress on the drive line and keeps your centre of gravity low!

Shovel and holder
A full length shovel and shovel holder is a must have accessory
ARB Bull bar
Next up, an ARB deluxe winch bar

This is the second brand new ARB bar I’ve had on my 4WD’s. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of them, and wouldn’t hesitate to get another. I’ve not hit anything with it yet, but I’m confident that if I do, it will hold up well.

Just remember, ARB bull bars don’t have recovery points! The eyes on the front are not to be recovered from.

Kaymar make some fantastic quality gear. Yep, its not cheap, but it is great quality. This is my second rear bar from Kaymar, and I’d get another one without hesitation. If you are interested in a rear bar, check out the Kaymar Rear Bar Review.

Kaymar Rear Bar 80 Series
And on the rear, a Kaymar rear bar with twin tyre swings
Bushranger bin bag
The Bushranger spare wheel bag has been invaluable.

Everyone should have one of these bags. Especially the feral’s who chuck their rubbish into the bush. Take a bag, and take your rubbish home. It’s not hard.

BFG KM2 Tyres
New rims, and 285/75/16 BFG KM2 tyres were sourced, for a steal

Again, a priority was to keep the vehicle legal, so I went up only one size tyres. BFG KM2’s have an unreal reputation for everything from mud work through to touring, and I knew they would suit us well. Even after several thousand km’s in the Kimberley we had zero damage (except a fair bit of extra wear!). Correct tyre pressures, good tyres and a sensible driving technique make all the difference!

120W Solar panel
To keep the dual batteries happy we grabbed a 120W solar panel
Home made mud flaps
After ripping the mud flaps off, I decided to make my own out of conveyor belt. Yep, not pretty, but they work!
OME steering damper
New OME steering dampener and suspension
OME suspension
These have been great. Notice the stone guard at the bottom of the shocky, where it gets smashed all the time?

With an upcoming Kimberley trip planned, a leaking rear air bag and a mismatched suspension kit, I decided it was time to upgrade. I didn’t want to have something break in the middle of no where, and after a considerable amount of research settled on the Old man emu nitro sport shock absorbers, and springs to suit the winch and bar at the front, as well as a 600kg constant load in the rear.

We ripped the air bags out, and put the new gear in. It’s been impressive to say the least; comfortable, carries the load well and handles even better!

UHF Aerial
A new UHF aerial from Prestige Communications
And to match it, an ICOM commercial grade radio
Smittybilt winch
After doing more and more solo work, we invested in the ultimate recovery device; a 12V winch
Rear LED Light
LED strip lighting on the top tailgate has been extremely valuable
Rear hitch recovery point
A rear recovery point, using the Kaymar hitch receiver
Our rear drawer
Lots of spares and goodies in our drawers
Rear drawer system
The modified drawer system (yep, it still needs carpet!)
Optima battery
Replacement cranking battery; a yellow top Optima. Excuse the wires running everywhere; I need to tidy them up!
Kaymar LED work light
Kaymar rear bar work light; this thing is insanely bright
Stebel air horn
An aftermarket Stebel air horn, to scare wildlife off the road
1HDT Fuel pump
After our fuel pump started leaking we had the seals replaced
A visit to Gturbo
Gturbo was recommended by everyone I spoke to
Gturbo on a 1HDT engine
Whilst it was there I couldn’t resist getting a replacement turbo, which has totally transformed the 80
Absolutely amazing turbo’s; go and see Graeme and find out for yourself!
Projecta Dual Battery monitor
A Projecta Dual Battery monitor to keep an eye on both batteries at any time

So, with the long list of accessories and modifications out of the way, where to next? I keep saying I won’t spend any more money on our 80 series, and at the back of my mind I’m glad that I’m running out of options. The 80 has taken us on some truly amazing holidays, and we plan on keeping it for many years yet.

There really isn’t much more that I want to do with it, except tidy it up a little, play with the air intake a little, carpet the rear drawers, install some rock sliders and scrub bars, and drive it (as much as possible!). Yes, we’ve spent a Fortune on our 80 series, but I don’t think I’d change that; we have a great vehicle.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago covering some of the Adventures in our 80 series; check it out and let me know what you think.

Again, if you have any questions, please let me know; I’m happy to answer them!

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  1. Hey Lee,

    Sounds like a fun project mate. All the best with it


  2. Lee j farrell says:

    Great information
    Iv just cut my toyota landcruiser in half exstended the chasis 20 mil and put a camper old hilux body on if you want any pic s 👍

  3. Hey mate,

    The yellow top optimas are perfectly suited for cranking with, and winching off. They are a great battery. I’ve actually sold the cruiser now though,


  4. Beej O'Dwyer says:

    Mate I believe your optima battery is for slow release usage (fridges etc)
    meaning it’s not really designed for cranking you engine. Just a thought.

  5. Ok thanks mate I’ll get on to that mate!


  6. Hi Jack,

    285/75/16 (33’s) will fit without a lift, providing your suspension is not badly sagged.

    I’d say 35’s would also fit with new suspension, but should easily fit with 2 inch. I don’t think you need to space the rims any more, but it does depend on the width you go. Best bet is to ask on one of the Facebook pages for 80 series – people will share their setups with both tyre sizes.


  7. Ok thanks mate, so 33″s will fit with no lift and 35″ will need a 3″ lift and negative offset rims?

  8. Hi Jack,

    The 80 just has heavy duty springs – 600kg on the rear and 110kg on the front. No lift at all.


  9. Hey what size lift is on the 80?