Modifying vehicles, it's a curse really. Even when something is totally sufficient and capable in stock form, there's an urge and a need to make it even more capable, and exceed your expectations. After a few months of driving our Prado with no modifications, it was clear that it needed some additional flavor. The question however, was what that flavor would end up being. Would it be massive tires and a huge suspension lift accompanied with lockers? Negative, it would need to be subtle to compliment not only the intended purpose of the vehicle, but the 97 hp 2L-TE turbo-diesel engine.
With our team having a little bit of experience building overland vehicles, we decided to start small, and progressively work our way up to bigger items, so we decided our first modification was going to be an Outback Solutions Drawer System. This allowed us to effectively and easily access all of our recovery and personal gear. Unfortunately, it required removing one of the third-row seats, so we're down a little bit on capacity, though it really isn't an issue for us.
Scott lifting the rear seat out of the Prado so we can install the drawer.
Once installed, it was a near perfect fit, and the drawer even has a fridge slide if we decide to install one in the future.
The benefit of buying a vehicle from Japan is that they often have incredibly low mileage, and often tend to be in great shape because of it. The downside is that sometimes the vehicles aren't maintained as well as they should be, when you have a country that is so built up, the chance of breaking down more than a half mile from a repair shop is unlikely. Preventative maintenance isn't huge for that reason, if it breaks, you pull over, get it fixed and go on your way. A great example of this happens to be the fact that our vehicle built in 1991 has the factory battery, and coolant—so we decided it was important to replace the battery, and have the radiator cleaned by a reputable shop.
Kelsey took care of replacing the factory battery in the Prado with an upgraded Odyssey unit we had sitting around the office.
It was a simple installation, a few nuts and bolts removed, and the old battery was out, and a newer Odyssey was in.
It's the simple things that make a huge difference.
The next step, mainly because of the ease of installation, was an Alloy ARB Roof Rack. We chose the alloy model for weight savings in one of the most crucial areas of your vehicle—it's highest point. With Ray intending to take his family out in this vehicle, interior storage just will not cut it.
It fits nearly perfectly on top of the Prado.
The next step, was taking instruction from Martyn, who always seems to wander over to tell a joke when we're attempting to work.
We knew that fitting some form of bumper was inevitable on the vehicle, since ARB is one of the few that has parts available for this rare truck, again, we went with an ARB Deluxe Bullbar.
Removing the factory bumper proved easy for the incredible skills of Ray.
With all four bolts removed, it was time to prepare the ARB bumper.
Kelsey and Ray worked dillegently on installing the side marker lights, and as usual, I stood by, and took photos.
After succesfully preparing the bumper, it was time to check out the winch we'd be installing on the Prado, a Warn M8000 with synthetic line.
The M8000 is really the perfect winch for this vehicle, especially when combined with the lightweight synthetic rope to keep the weight down.
As I continued to watch, and take photos, Ray and Kelsey built a stand or the bumper so the winch could be installed.
After admitting defeat to a lost bolt, Dave was called in with his secret stash of all things nut and bolt. It was right after this where we ran into an issue, our bumper was actually for a different 70-series Land Cruiser. The Prado we have was such a rare model that either we, or ARB made a mistake when we ordered it, considering the next closest bumper that fit perfectly was in Australia, we consulted next door with AT Overland, and they busted out the plasma cutter, made a few small, clean cuts, and all was well in the world.
Once the bumper was installed, it was time to install the synthetic winch line, which needs to be installed under tension.
To install, you slip this retainer over the looped end of the rope, and use threadlock as a safety precaution.
Once installed over the line, you're ready to start winding the line onto the drum.
The seamless inegration between the ARB Deluxe Bull Bar and the Warn M8000 winch is really quite impressive.
With gloves on, we began to install the rope.
But first the new rope needed to be untangled.
Attaching the line to a secure point, we used the free-rolling weight of the truck to put tension on the rope.
With Ray behind the wheel, who knows a thing or two about winching through muddy forests in Southeast Asia and British Columbia, all went well.
This doesn't look like it's the hardest winching that he's had to do.
The line under tension.
The winch line is installed!
There's more to come! Check back for part two, where we'll be installing an Old Man Emu suspension system and a few more goodies!