“Do it right – do it the first time” – Darren Vassie does nothing by halves. When he set his mind to building his ultimate family tourer every clever detail was planned before he even bought the rig. Darren picked up his 1992 1FZ-FE 80 Series for just $3,500 and set to work straight away. In just a few short months the final product is nothing short of inspiring.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”This immaculately chopped 80 has been bought, built and engineered all for under $20K”[/blockquote]

“I didn’t see the family much when I was working on it every night,” says Darren. “But they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. And they’re not wrong – this chopped, hand-built custom tourer represents the reward of true Aussie dedication and passion. This thing is packed to its GVM with inspiration – check it out

  • DIY dual cab chop
  • Hand-built aluminium canopy
  • Hand-built bar work
  • Hand-built alloy roof racks
  • Dobinsons 12000lb winch
  • Narva 55W HID driving lights

When you set out to hand-build your ideal tourer, three things happen; you spend every free minute working on your pride and joy, you save a huge chunk of cash in labour and the end result is tailored exactly for you and your application.

Being a spray painter, mechanic and bus, truck and trailer manufacturer, Darren in no stranger to planning and building some incredible custom machines. So when putting together the base for his ultimate family tourer he had some seriously clever ideas. Darren has kept the overall weight of the 80 down across the board with the materials he has used. He has left hoops off the 3mm plate front bar and made his canopy and racks from aluminium.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”I wanted to make the cab stronger than factory”[/blockquote]

Large toolboxes underneath the canopy provide valuable storage leaving the canopy simple and uncluttered and the custom-built wheel carriers provide a base for a clever camping mod we will come to in a minute. Darren says that the hardest part of this build was knowing where to stop but with the simple practicality of these mods we think he’s got it bang on.

  • Dobinsons 3in suspension lift
  • Acetal 50mm body blocks
  • 35in Pro Comp Xtreme A/Ts
  • Mickey Thompson Classic Baja Lock alloy rims
  • Dobinsons heavy duty big bore steering dampener

Darren’s 80 is more than just a dream camping setup for the family. It is seriously capable on the tough stuff to. With its massive stance and sitting on 35s there’s not much that can stop this super tourer getting to the perfect campsite. It is also fully engineered and safe for the family.

  • Hand-built 170L fuel tank
  • Hand-built 4in stainless steel snorkel
  • 2.5in aluminised exhaust
  • Pacemaker extractors
  • 3:9 diff ratios
  • Eaton E-locker in the front

‘The 1FZ-FE has enough power,’ says Darren. ‘But it usually does bout 22–25L/100km on the highway with 35s so I’m going to drop an LS1 in it. It’ll make it a bit better on fuel but I wont mind if it’s thirsty if I’ve got that V8 power behind me.’ Darren built the 170L fuel tank out of 3mm steel and it’s mounted with the water tank under the canopy giving him the range to explore the most remote parts of Australia.

  • Hand-built 100L water tank with pressure pump and heat exchanger
  • Two large camp tables that attach to wheel carrier
  • MSR drop down fridge slide
  • Hand built drawers
  • Red Arc 15Amp dual battery management system
  • 150W roof mounted solar panel added since the last time we saw him
  • Three Narva 10W camp lights on canopy

This is the number one mod for comfortable family touring! Darren has built a 100L water tank that mounts beneath the canopy, and he’s even got a pressurized hot water shower built in. The Webasto heat exchanger pressure pump can draw from any water source independently from the tank and throw in an OZtrail Ensuite Pop Up and you have the best bush shower your missus could dream of.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”It’s even got a pressurised hot water shower built into the back”[/blockquote]

Two large custom aluminium tables Darren made mount to brackets underneath the wheel carriers providing a massive space for cooking. The tables store away perfectly next to the fridge saving heaps of space.


Darren owns and operates Custom RV Creations & Repairs where he puts the same clever ideas and attention to detail into building your perfect rig as he did to build his very own super tourer. With loads of experience planning and working on all kinds of vehicles and trailers for varying applications Darren will help you nut out exactly what you want from your vehicle and build it to perfection. ‘Do it right, do it the first time.’ If you’re thinking about a build, give Darren a call on 04 25 148 618.


VEHICLE: 1993 Toyota 80 Series
GEARBOX: Standard 5 speed manual
SUSPENSION: 3in Dobinsons springs and shocks
WHEELS AND TYRES: Mickey Thompson Classic Baja Lock Alloy wheels with 35in Pro Comp Xtreme A/Ts
OTHER GOOD GEAR: MSR drop down fridge slide, Dobinsons 1200lb winch, Narva 55W HID driving lights, Red Arc 15Amp dual battery management system, three Narva 10W camp lights on canopy, Pacemaker extractors, Eaton electric locker in the front

[share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”]