CRAZY PANTS

  • Home-built extra-cab ute conversion with suicide doors
  • Supercharged 400hp 5.7L ls1 v8
  • 16L/100km touring economy on 37s!

You all saw it on this month’s DVD, and drooled over how easily it ate up its home tracks of the wild west coast of Tassie. And unless your telly speakers are blown to pieces you’ll have picked up on the fact that there ain’t no ordinary motor under the bonnet, either.

At the distinct risk of having his head swell up so much that he’ll have to cut the ute into a soft-top just to be able to drive it, we figured we better pin down our Cape York correspondent Ray Clark and have a chat to him about the big white ute he affectionately refers to as the Crankycruiser.

Long-time readers will recognise the ute – this isn’t its first time in the magazine. In fact, we first met Ray almost 10 years ago when Cranky was an absolute monster of a full-bodied 80 Series wagon, slogging its way through the long-since-locked up bog holes of southern Tassie. Ray’s actually got one of the longest-running buildup threads on the 4WD Action forums (remember those things that Facebook killed?) documenting the entire build of the vehicle.

And what a build it’s been. It’s hard to believe but the wild weapon started life as a bog-standard 80 Series wagon, owned by Ray’s uncle until Ray bought it around 2002. Ray being Ray, there was a snowflake’s hope in hell it’d ever stay that way, so up it went in tyres and lift. It’s had a fair few incarnations over the years, the biggest being 8inches of lift and 38inch tyres in wagon form. But that’s only just the beginning, so where do you go from there? 

POWER TO BURN

Tassie’s infamous for its monster mud holes, and that’s how Cranky was first built. Big lift, big tyres and big motor. Originally a 1FZ-FE 4.5L petrol, Ray went on the hunt for more power, but didn’t have to search long. “I bought a half-cut V8 Commodore,” he says. “I wanted an LS1 because they’re cheap, and you can get a million bolt-on bits to make a million horsepower. We dropped the LS1 in and I ran it as it was for a couple of months to pass engineering, then it was time for a blower.” A second-hand Magnuson MP112 blower came up on the cheap, from a bloke who’d previously run a big-HP blown V8 in his Patrol but was pulling the motor to build a high-power diesel.

“I just bolted it straight on, and had it tuned,” Ray explains. “It’s been faultless. The biggest hassle at the beginning was cooking power steering pumps – they were just getting worked too hard running 37s and 38s. The easy solution there was an auto trans cooler I pulled from a VT Commodore I was wrecking at the time, which I ran as a power-steering cooler. Moonlight Fabrications built a custom airbox for the truck, along with the big stainless steel snorkel.”

“They’re easy engines to work on,” Ray continues. “Probably even easier than the old 1FZ motor. The spark plugs are all easy to access, the idler pulleys are too and all the plug leads are at most 100mm long.” The motor has generally been reliable, but the Tassie trip on this month’s DVD was the ute’s maiden voyage after the V8 got a freshen-up.
“It’s tuned to run 98,” explains Ray. “I can get away with running 95, but up in Weipa all you can get is 91, so I was trying to run it with octane booster.

It’s just too hard to get the mixtures right, and the motor ended up getting smoky so I got Justin at NQ Crash in Cairns to give it a freshen-up. I shipped the ute back to Tassie for the DVD trip, but before it kicked off I got my mate Jake and Weld Logic to organise to get it tuned by the blokes at Howell Automotive. I wasn’t after any more power, just to make it run nice and smooth after the rebuild. It ended up with an extra 40kW and 100Nm!”

CHOP, DROP AND (DON’T ROLL)

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”I wasn’t after more power, but ended up with an extra 40kw and 100nm!”[/blockquote]

TOURING IN A TOUGH TRUCK

It’s all well and good to build the biggest, baddest truck around as a weekend playtoy, but what if you get the itch to tour? That’s exactly the situation Ray found himself in a couple of years ago. He and a mate decided they were packing their jobs in and heading out on the big lap. It’s not hard to see why Ray’s our kinda bloke – nothing says touring like a ute chop, 37s and a blown LS1. His mate Cam’s massive 105 Cruiser featured in 4WD Action a few years ago, running ultra-fat 36s with full-sized spare and some of the toughest barwork we’ve ever seen outside of a 4WD comp. Now that’s a sight to see.

“When I built the truck, I left as much stuff factory as I could,” Ray says. “Apart from the engine and the bellhousing, it’s all Toyota. Factory five-speed gearbox, factory transfer case, factory tailshafts, factory diffs. If I break something, it’s easy to find spares when you’re out in the bush. The only things in the drivetrain that aren’t standard are a set of Longfield CVs and axles up front, and some solid pinion spacers in the diffs. Since I fitted the spacers, I haven’t blown a single diff. I’ve also braced the front diff and now run a high-steer setup.”

There’s no getting around the fact that a blown V8 uses a lot of juice, but you’d be surprised just how much it is using. It’s no common-rail ute by any means, but it ain’t terrible. “After it was tuned, I picked up a heap of fuel economy,” says Ray. “Before, on the flat roads on the way up the coast, I’d be lucky to get 20L/100km. These days, when I’m cruising on the highway I’ve seen 16L/100km.” That’s economy that most big turbo-diesel Cruiser and Patrol owners would be stoked to get. Keeping the fuel supply up is a combination of the factory 90L Cruiser main tank, and a secondary custom tank that Ray’s mate Hagen knocked up. The aux tank is somewhere between 130L and 140L, giving about 220L of unleaded or an easy 1000km of loaded off-road work without breaking a sweat.

So, modifications aside, how do you go actually touring in a single-cab ute? It’s not like you’ve got a full set of drawers or a lockable canopy to store stuff, but it’s all about being creative.“On the big trip I was running one of those big, angled-lid toolboxes down the driver’s side,” explains Ray. “Inside it was a pull-out slide with a full caravan stove. It also had LED lights built throughout it, and I’d just keep all the cooking gear in there. Then I went to the hardware store and got some tubs that would fit behind the seats for all my clothes and stuff.”

In terms of 12v systems, Ray’s kept the ute fairly simple, but like the rest of the bus it’s nearly bulletproof. A dual-battery system sits in the factory positions under-bonnet, with a Redarc BCDC pumping them full of juice. There’s a set of NQ Crash 9inch Penetrator LED driving lights up front, and a massive 42inch NQ Crash Terminator light bar on the roof, with a twist. It pivots back to sit in-line with the horizontal headboard tube, and it’s all done with a 12v actuator. There’s even a pair of Domin8r winches – one front and one rear. Can you tell the bloke doesn’t do things by halves?

RUNDOWN

VEHICLE: Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series extra-cab ute
ENGINE: Supercharged 5.7L LS-1 V8
GEARBOX: 5-speed manual
4WD ACTIVATION: Part time, manual locking hubs
SUSPENSION: 4inch coils and shocks, Superflex front arms, laminated front diff
WHEELS AND TYRES: 37inch Interco M16s on 16×10 Pro Comp rims
OTHER TOUGH GEAR: Supercharged LS1 conversion – extra cab ute chop – 220L fuel storage – Adventure Kings rooftop tent – Longfield axles and CVs – solid diff pinion spacers

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”The rear shocks are almost a metre long”[/blockquote]

THANKS

A truck like this doesn’t get built in a vacuum, so Ray wants to put some thanks out there to the following people; “Big thanks to Dad for the endless years of me trashing his shed and him pulling me outta strife when things got proper technical on the welding side of things. I designed my tray and he’s the man who made it all come together. Uncle Chop Chop from Wombat Arms Hotel (thats what he calls his shed) for the brains behind the chop and the suicide doors. Moonlight Fabrications for the airbox and the snorkel. Cam, for being as mad as me and encouraging me to do dumb stuff. Justin from NQ Crash, for just being an all-round good bloke and looking after me with all my parts and motor rebuild. Sam from Weipa Auto for letting me trash his shed these days, Howell Automotive for the tune, Weld Logic for the mental sounding exhaust and I’d almost blame the 4WD Action forum for the Cruiser ending up the way it did!”

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