The evolution of 4WD accessories and modifications over the last decade has been nothing short of astronomical. Every day the bar gets raised higher for possibilities, and I wonder where each of you draw the line when it comes to modifying your own 4WD.
Some of the modifications and accessories being installed in 4WD’s today wouldn’t have been dreamed about 10 years ago, and its going to be a very exciting next couple of decades to see where technology and improvement takes us.
The amount of money being poured into the 4WD accessory and modification industry by individuals and businesses today is staggering, and I feel that a lot of people are modifying their 4WD’s without standing back first and really assessing what they need. Don’t get me wrong; I love progress, and seeing technology, but I do wonder about the financial implications (mainly from individuals) over doing it.
Somewhere, there is a line in the sand that everyone has, and if you aren’t aware of where this is, its easy to step over it. Where do you draw the line?
Amazing technology in 4WD’s
Whether you like the accessories and modifications that are coming out today, or think they are a total waste of time, there’s no stopping the development, and its certainly interesting to watch. Here’s a few of the things on the market today that you wouldn’t ever see 10 years ago!
Electronics gone mad
One of the biggest areas of improvements in 4WD’s has come from the electrical field. Not too long ago ARB released their Linx and TJM released their Connect. A few clever cookies have developed their own electronic control units to do a similar job, and you can literally turn lockers and lights on and off, set tyre pressures, monitor battery voltages, speed, direction and a whole heap of other interesting things from your smart phone!
Tyre pressure monitoring systems are now super affordable, and you can monitor the pressure inside your tyres on your vehicle and trailer from a little dashboard very easily.
Lithium batteries have been a game changer in other industries, and its slowly filtering through to the 4WD industry. Some people are even mounting them under the bonnet, with the majority used as a secondary battery in the back of their 4WD. These have so much usable capacity and handle huge current draw whilst being unbelievably light that you can run items you’d normally only have at home.
Microwaves, coffee machines, induction cooktops and even a camping air conditioner are all found in the back of 4WD’s today, and you’d laugh if you saw this a few years back. You can now buy LED light bars and spotlights that will literally shine more than a kilometre down the road. Nuts.
If you could get a 50% increase in power and torque from the same normal 4WD motor 10 years ago you would have been doing very well. Today though, its not uncommon to see a 200% increase, or beyond on your regularly found 4WD motors. This includes the 1HDT/FT/E from the older Land Cruisers, 4JJ1 from the Dmax/Colorado/Rodeo, 1VJ and 1VD motors from the newer Land Cruisers and the list goes on.
A 4 inch snorkel was insane a few years back, and now people are fitting 5 inch ones, along with a myriad of custom air boxes, intercooler piping and upgrades and even 4 inch exhaust systems. Some of these are useful and provide some good, and I’m sure some don’t achieve much at all.
The turbo world has gone absolutely bonkers, with more aftermarket options for turbo replacements in 4WD’s than you can poke a stick at.
Canopies, chassis extensions, 6WD and dual cab chops
Would you throw $45,000 at a canopy and tray for your Ute? I wouldn’t, but there are people doing this every week of the year. There are some insanely high level builds being pumped out in Australia and across the world, and they aren’t cheap.
Some canopies today come with automatic opening and closing doors, spare wheel carriers that lower down at the press of a button, in built roof top tents and kitchens and the list just never ends. Some of the fabrication work coming out of Australia is next level stuff.
Every day, there are brand new $90,000 + Land Cruisers getting taken to with a grinder, cutting them in half, joining the chassis back together with extension pieces and then installing custom canopies on the back. You only have to jump on Car Sales to see some of the 4WD’s on the market that are selling for more than $160, 000 and many of these are no where near new.
If you want to take it even further, there are a number of 6WD vehicles being made on a regular basis, which run 3 lockers, and cost more than many houses in Australia.
Beer on tap
Companies are always fighting to be at the forefront of development, and Pat Callinan is more than happy to be a part of this, with his latest Amarok build. Some people would say its off tap, and that’s not a bad way to describe it. Pat’s literally installed a keg, carbonator and chills the beer through a fridge, allowing him to have Icey cold, beer on tap anywhere in Australia (including the most remote parts!)
There are a number of builds that reflect some of the technology going into the 4WD industry today:
Patriot Campers 6WD
All 4 Adventure’s 79 Series
So, where do you draw the line?
We’ve done a lot of travel in this amazing country. We’ve spoken to thousands of amazing people, and seen some truly amazing builds. The one thing that always seems to hit home though is that those who have seen the most, usually haven’t done it in a 4WD that is the most highly accessorised.
I’ve met people who have done just about every 4WD track in Australia, and its been done in a 4WD with nothing more than a Bull bar, upgraded suspension, a few spare tyres and a good maintenance schedule.
To me, this makes it all very simple; a lot of these modifications are simply not ‘must have’. That’s not to say that they aren’t a good idea, and that having them wouldn’t make your life easier (or more fun), but its not a requirement. On the flip side, some people just like to push the boundaries, and modify 4WD’s, and if that’s what you want to do, go for it!
How do we modify our 4WD’s?
A lot of thought gets put into modifying our vehicles. Firstly, it needs to be functional. Not look good, but actually perform a useful function. Then, it has to make financial sense. Sure, we could go and build a 200k Land Cruiser, but it wouldn’t do us any favours financially, and wouldn’t allow us to see any more of this great country, and that’s what we really have in mind.
Then, it has to be safe, and comfortable. That means legal, compliant with the local regulations and not have us tipped over onto the roof on a 4WD track because its super tall and unstable. Lastly, it has to make our vehicle better at doing what we want it to. I won’t fit a set of fancy aluminium rims because they look good, but I would do it to reduce the unsprung mass, and to improve fuel economy.
Now, if you’ve got a decked out fourby, that’s epic. It’d be a boring world if we all did the same thing, but we prefer to draw the line in the sand for 4WD accessories as early as practical, and pour our money into 4WD trips. If you want to know what we spent on our Dmax, you can read all about it here – Isuzu Dmax build cost.