4WD Solutions  - 1990 Toyota Hilux Project (the other half's perspective)
Written by Jayne Verhoeven
Published in Action 4x4

Why is it that when you reach 40 (well ok – 40 something) the 20 year olds get all the attention!


Apparently, the ‘20 something’ year old Toyota Hilux’s are classed as real workhorses and are renowned for being hardworking, popular, no fuss working vehicles that have stood the test of time (well that’s my husband’s sales spiel anyway), coz he’d been looking for an old leaf sprung Hilux for the boys for ages.
So after talking to a local farmhand here in Cambridge, Morgan found out that he had the ruins of a couple of Hilux’s that he wanted to get rid of so the deal was done right then and there – parts unseen! The farmhand was moving down south and couldn’t take his Toyota parts collection with him (I think his wife may have had something to do with this). The guy had had the Hilux’s in parts for years and storing them in his bosses old hay barn between Cambridge & Te Awamutu so Morgan and Dale (Daigo from Cambridge Panelworks) made 2 trips with the salvage truck to pick-up the cab’s and chassis of 2 Toyota Hilux’s.
When Morgan and Lindsay (Linz our 4x4 rebuilder) turned up to the hay barn to collect the parts there was heaps of ‘crap’ (Morgan’s words) everywhere! They had to filter through all the dead possums (and a live one who challenged them on taking away his home), rats, hay bales, dirt and dust to uncover the body remains of a couple of Hilux’s buried under the rubble. But instead of filtering through everything onsight, they grabbed the parts (which were mostly in pieces) in a heap and threw them into the back of the ute and headed back to the workshop. Morgan and Linz had to make 3 trips backwards and forward’s to get the parts out of the shed whilst dodging one very angry possum!
When they got it all back they dumped it fair smack in the middle of the workshop which made our normally pristine ‘eat off the floor workshop’ look like a wreaker’s yard! Then they had to decide on which one of the two vehicles to rebuild so Linz sifted through all the parts that related to each vehicle to try and assess which parts were worth keeping.
First Stage -September – November 2011
All the parts were for either the 1990 or 1987 ute so firstly Linz had to sort out what parts belonged to what ute. The decision was made to do up the 1990 coz it was a later model and the chassis was in better nic (once again the younger one is chosen over the older one!) The 2.8 diesel engine for the 1990 wasn’t too bad either but needed a good clean and a bit of a
spruce up before Linz got it up and running smoothly. Linz rummaged through all the parts and sorted the best front and rear diff’s. He found that the rear axle housing had rusted out on one of them so made a quick trip out to ‘Sticky Steve’ to get
a new housing unit from a Toyota Surf. He then meticulously cleaned (and when I say ‘meticulously cleaned ’ I mean so ‘anally retentive’ that I was eyeing him up to take over my house cleaning!) and painted the housings, rebuilt front swivel housings, reconditioned brakes and fitted new hoses, repaired the brake lines and replaced a couple of leaking pinion seals (yes even 20 year olds have leaking bits). I must admit that by this time I was starting to feel a tad jealous of this 20 year old that was getting all the attention so when they mentioned that ‘she’ (notice the name change) needed new suspension – I said “can’t you just make do with the old stuff” and was curtly told – “you try running around the block with no bra on and see how you feel!” So, of course, I couldn’t let a ‘sister’ down and promptly signed the invoice so ‘she’ could get the lift of her life!  ‘She’ now has brand spanking new Old Man Emu Leaf Springs, Nitro Charger Sport Shocks, Steering Damper and front and rear Greaseable Shackles so ‘she’ can run and glide freely –  I am so envious!

Second Stage December 2011 – June 2012
So, of course, the new 20-year-old had taken up a lot of our guy’s attention and my husband’s money (or more to the point -
OUR money!)  But the next stage was to strip her down, gets her top off, sort out her ‘rear end’, create a more comfortable ride and get thousands of dollars worth of Bling!
The second stage of our Toyota Hilux’s restoration included sprucing up the chassis, panel work, lights, grill, winch bar, new exhaust system, interior fittings, upholstery and snorkel.
So here I was with this 20 something-year-old in our workshop who had the techs fussing all over her coz apparently her body needed attending to! First things first though they said – Linz needs to get her top off! I seriously couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to whip her top off – she was glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife! (Back in my day a girl would have had to have at least a ring on her finger and a promise to be loved forever for a guy to even get a look in!!!)  So Linz whipped her top off so her body could be restored back to its original shape (wish it was that easy in real life!) and sent it over to Daigo at Cambridge Panelworks for a total revamp. Daigo and his boys worked on her and took out all her bumps, scratches and dents – (a wee bit like Botox!)  With her top off she was fully exposed, so Linz concentrated on her under body that had to be sanded down and given a lick of paint! (I’d equate this to major dermabrasion treatment and 200 layers of foundation!)  During the quiet periods in the workshop,  Linz checked and cleaned the engine and gearbox so everything was pretty much ready to go and he started the rebuilding part of the restoration!
Before Linz put her top back on he put the engine and gearbox in so he didn’t have to worry about scratching the pristine paint job, then got to work on reassembling the engine bay which took a while coz all the hoses had been cut and partially stripped. And check this out for staff dedication and perfection in his own time Linz took the inlet manifold, alternator and thermostat housing home and bead plastered them with his Dad (Rex's) Bead Blaster so everything looked pretty immaculate when it all got put back together. He got Alan (aka ‘Happy’) from Ontrack Drainage to check out the original radiator which only needed to be cleaned and connected up however the grill, battery, headlights and park lights were all knackered and had to be replaced.
So of course by this stage, the guys in the workshop were starting to get pretty excited as they ogled her smooth, wrinkle-free body and check out her perky headlights! Then Linz had to sort out the inside which was looking pretty tattered and torn. Firstly he stripped the entire interior and took out the dashboard which he cleaned and reassembled. Unfortunately finding secondhand parts for the Hilux posed as a bit of a problem due to the age of the vehicle and the fact that people just didn’t want to part with them! So Linz had a bit of mission tracking down parts but thanks to ESpares and Simon in Palmerston North, he managed to source a new steering column surround, floor trims, door handles and window winders (especially important to activate the ‘natural air conditioning’) from all over the north island.  All the windows were in pretty good condition so they were reused however the front windscreen needed replacing which Opal Glass sorted for us. Linz said that her exhaust was all rusted out and not worth fixing so she got a new one of these too. The bench seat upholstery was ripped and worn so Linz whipped the seat out and sent it away for a total revamp – to ensure she will be a ‘more comfortable ride”???
Then with all her bits and pieces back in place, the guys started to talk about buying her some bling. I remember my ears pricking up and my heart couldn't stop raing coz I knew then that when a girl starts to get BLING – things were getting really serious (especially when they are talking thousands of dollars worth)!!
And what do you know - her first piece of bling is an ARB Winch Bar the crème de la crème of accessories for any ute! I knew the minute I signed the invoice that this 20 year old had my guys hook, line and sinker! Any man who fits an ARB bar to his ute is seriously thinking marriage!!!
By this time I was getting a little worried, things were really getting out of hand and I was losing control of the whole situation.  But wait there was more to come – a Safari Snorkel – I wasn’t really too sure about this accessory and asked the guys if a Snorkel was truly necessary in which they replied – “if you want her to breathe under water she needs a snorkel”. They explained that if we want her to go into water then the snorkel will help protect her engine so she can breathe. By that time the sadistic side of me had started to surface and I seriously considered not signing off on the invoice.  I figured that if ‘she’ didn’t have a snorkel and I perhaps decided to take her for a wee leisurely drive into the lake, then she might just choke and die and all my troubles would have been over!  But alas the snorkel was purchased and the younger one wins again!
Final Stage – Bling!
So after nearly a year from when my husband broke the news to me that he had designs on a twenty-year-old, I resigned myself to the fact that experience, strength and character were no match for a flawless body, perky headlights and a slim arse end!  ‘She’ (AKA Miss Toyota Hilux 1990) has had truckloads of time and money spent on her but even though I’m reluctant to say it – it’s all been worth it.
The final stages of the restoration of our 1990 Toyota Hilux were pretty exciting for all of us really, especially for Linz – who had painstakingly and diligently ensured that every single part of the vehicle was meticulously cleaned, rebuilt and properly prepared before fully restoring her back to new. Linz has certainly done us proud and the restoration had been a huge highlight.
June - December 2012
Up to this point in the project the Hilux has had the body and interior fully restored, new Old Man Emu Suspension, Front & Rear Leaf Springs, Nitro Charger Sport Shocks,Steering Damper, Spring Bushes, U Bolts, Greaseable Shackles, ARB Deluxe Winch Bar, IPF 800xs Spot Lights, new exhaust system and Safari Snorkel. And in her final stages ‘she’ got a new aluminium tray, Mickey Thompson MTZ Mud Tyres & Side Biter Wheels, a rebuilt gearbox, and KingOne KDS 9000LB Winch.
So firstly Linz and Morgan needed to check out her ‘arse end’ which is apparently was a very important part and had to look right (go figure!).  The boys headed off to get her a new tray but came back empty-handed – when I asked them what was wrong with it they said that they felt that her arse would have looked too big in it and decided on a smaller one. Apparently, the tray would have ‘weighed’ her down and the last thing they wanted was a saggy arse! I really felt her pain coz no girl wanted to be told her rear was too big for something! So the decision was made to go with an aluminium tray and with a wee bit of help, ‘she’ got a butt slimming, lightweight tray that didn't  drag her end down!
Next ‘she’ needed tyres and but these weren’t just any 4 wheel drive tyres, these were Mickey Thompson MTZ’s fitted with Mickey Thompson Side Biter Wheels. Side Biter Wheels??? – I remember thinking what the heck were these!! The boys told me they wanted sleek high gloss Side Biter Wheels to compliment her MTZ’s??? My head went into a bit of a spin with all the jargon, however- ‘she’ now has some pretty grunty looking tyres on her which are Mickey Thompsons MTZ Mud Tyres with special Powerply Technology. This means that when ‘she’ goes around tight corners ‘she’ has less ‘tread squirm’ on the road which means ‘she’ has faster steering response time– better traction – more grip – or in layman’s terms – the tyres handle the road heaps better.  These particular mud terrains are great for off-roading but can handle the road just as well and are surprisingly quiet on the road. And if you ever get the chance to read Erik Arneson’s book ‘Mickey Thompson – The Fast Life and Tragic Death of a Racing Legend’, it’s a really great read (even for a girlie girl like me!). Mickey Thompson was an amazing man who was born way before his time!
Then we had to get her certified so ‘she’ was road legal (which was a bit trickier than first thought). I hadn’t realised that vehicles actually had a ‘family tree’ which we needed to trace right back to when they chiseled the first wheel out of stone to verify where all the parts came from. But to my delight, we discovered that ‘she’s a bit of a ‘mongrel’ with her parts being traced from all over the country and with the patient help from Noel at Nostalgia Motors we finally had a new name for her ‘GNL 579’.
So finally ‘she’ could be legally driven on the open road and Linz took her for a real spin and test on the open road. Unfortunately she didn’t perform that well for him as ‘she’ had a knackered 3rd gear. So Linz whipped the gearbox out and rebuilt it using parts from our full range of Drivetech4x4 components and she was ready to go off-roading!
Every year we sponsor the 4X4 Charity Food Drive which is organised by Bryan Williams, the Waikato 4WD Club and the local Jeep Club who help support the Salvation Army in providing food for the underprivileged. The boys decided this event was perfect to take the Hilux out for a real offroad work out to see how ‘she’d' handle herself! So armed with a recovery kit including ARB Snatch Straps, ARB Tree Trunk Protector, Leather Gloves, ARB Tyre Deflator and ARB Shackles (which thankfully they didn’t need to use) they put her through her paces! After driving her hard they thought that for a virgin she was pretty impressive and reckon with a bit more experience and a few more play toys she'd be well worth the money we spent on her! When she came back though she was really dirty but of course, that didn't last long as Linz is a true clean freak!! I’m convinced he has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) coz in the Hilux's short little lifespan he’s washed ‘her’ more times than Hugh Hefner’s had Viagra!
I must admit that by the time I added up everything it has cost in time and money for this 'little project' I was pretty much over it.   And the final straw for me was when I overheard my husband talking to Richard from Phillbrook Technologies to order a damn KingOne KDS 9000LB Winch for the wench!!!! Enough was enough! I finally put my foot down – NO MORE BLING – the restoration project had come to a close.

Then one day I overheard a customer say “ for an old thing she’s a real head turner” I got all excited thinking that after everything I had to put up with I had finally been noticed (even though I certainly didn’t appreciate being called ‘old’ but I decided that the poor man clearly had Glaucoma and needed eye surgery!). I was just about to thank this dear man – only to look up and see the entire workshop staff, my husband and our customer star gazing at ‘her’, running their hands over 'her', checking out 'her' interior and exterior and admiring 'her' tread – I knew right then and there that it would only be a matter of time before I’d be traded in …… so true to the saying ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’– I’ve confiscated the fuel card – let’s see how they get to enjoy 'her' now that she hasn’t got a sugar daddy and a card to keep her going!!!!!