• Custom rear camping tray setup
• Four inch Monster Rides suspension lift
• Relocated rear shocks

Heavy duty diesel mechanic Trent Garth has owned a few Luxxies in the past, but he bought his current truck new after that model HiLux proved itself to him at work. “I have always had HiLuxes and work on them on minesites, writes Trent. “They last well on site and I reckon this one will last me forever. They are also easy and simple to work on.” Once Trent knew he had the right truck for the job, it was only a matter of time before he started setting her up the way he wanted. Affectionately named ‘Smurfette’ by Trent’s missus Natasha, the end result is a truck that is not only practical as a ute should be, but also extremely capable and tough off-road.


Custom built rear tray setup
Removable rear camping setup
ARB bullbar with a Rockarmour 12,000lb winch
Staunch Customs rock sliders and scrub bars
ARB roof cage

It’s one thing to have a practical ute, but it’s another thing entirely to have a practical touring ute. Trent has setup his HiLux to be functional, yet simple. When Trent first picked up his blue Luxxy, he had a style-side tub and canopy setup on the back. “While the canopy and tub was excellent for safe storage, at the end of the day you are restricted with what you can put in it”, explains Trent. “After a while I started doing more tough tracks and I was denting the sides of the tub. It would only have been a matter of time before I damaged the canopy.”

To that end, Trent knew it was time for a tray. At first, he had his heart set on a steel canopy style camper to go onto a flat tray. He got onto Joe at Southern Cross Offroad about a tray setup and they got to work. The main tray is made out of two inch tubing and checkerplate steel. “Above everything I wanted it to be versatile”, writes Trent. “I wanted to be able to still get a load of wood or use the tray part in the back.

Once we finished the tray, I was already leaning away from the canopy setup as it’s a big heavy box on what isn’t a massive truck, and I didn’t want to overload it. At the time I was tossing up the canopy setup, Joe had a frame for one of his projects lying around that we test fitted to the back and by sheer coincidence it matched up pretty bang on. The end result was a stronger tray setup that weighed 200kg less than the factory tub and canopy.”

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”The added flex from the relocated shocks makes a massive difference”[/blockquote]

One of the key rules Trent had for his Lux build up was to keep it simple yet functional. “The camp setup has the rooftop tent, spare wheel and jerry can holders all bolted together which is held down on the tray by four bolts.” This enables Trent to completely remove the camp setup whenever he wants in a matter of minutes, and just run a tray. Making it perfect for what he wants to use it for. If you’re a ute owner, take note. This is how you build the ultimate tray setup.

  • Kuhmo K71 muddies
  • 4.5in Monster Rides lift
  • 4in Tough Dog leaves
  • Relocated rear Monster Rides shocks

Because Trent’s Lux is designed to be versatile, it was imperative that he got the suspension setup just right to suit a variety of uses. Up the front of Trent’s truck is a 4.5in Monster Rides suspension lift, complete with adjustable upper control arms. Obviously, the Lux is an IFS truck, so lifting the front up too much can cause all sorts of problems with CV angles and front end damage. To counter this, Trent focused on two different areas. First he added a Monster Rides diff drop kit, and then he added a set of custom CV’s to help keep drive to the front wheels. Up the back of the truck, Trent and Joe have relocated the rear shock mounts. “We worked together, and eventually got the setup right through trial and error”, comments Trent. “We had to tweak the angle of the shocks a few times. As a result, the leaves run out of travel before the shocks do.”

When Trent was first looking to upgrade his tyres, he had his eye on a set of sensible 33s. It didn’t take long for Joe at Southern Cross Offroad to convince him otherwise, and now the Luxxy is running a set of 305/70/R16 Kuhmo muddies. The combination of a four inch lift and big muddies makes this truck extremely capable. “The added flex in the rear end from the relocated shocks and the bigger rubber makes a massive difference in traction”, explains Trent, “and means I can keep up with the bigger trucks on the tougher tracks.”

  • 1KD-FTV four cylinder turbocharged diesel engine
  • Three inch mandrel bent stainless steel exhaust
  • Manta Sting performance chip
  • Front ARB Air Locker

When it comes to the engine of the Luxxy, Trent hasn’t changed too much apart from a three inch Redback Exhaust and a Manta Sting performance chip. Having said that, because the tray setup on the back is lighter than the canopy and tub setup he had previously, it is safe to say the Lux has no trouble pulling away from a standstill. Trent has tuned a few items in the driveline department of the HiLux, however. Up the front a set of custom CV joints have been added to help with the angles caused by the four inch lift.

“Originally I added a set of extended CV joints, writes Trent. I was getting a fair bit of steering shudder, so eventually I went with a custom set of CVs and the problem was fixed.” Trent has also added an ARB air locker to the front end, as although the truck is running a big lift, she still likes to pick up the front every now and again. “The locker certainly helps keep up on the tougher tracks, laughs Trent, but I have had a few issues with the CV popping out at the diff end.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”The tray weighs 200kg less than the factory tub and canopy”[/blockquote]

We have pretty much replaced everything from new bushes to new diff bearings but I have still been having problems so we think there might be a problem with the diff or locker itself.” Because the rear of the truck articulates so well with the relocated shocks, Trent has not needed to add a rear locker to the Lux. That said, he reckons it’s on the cards down the track, but he wants to sort out everything with the front end first.

  • Twin rear air outlets for ARB compressor hidden behind the seat
  • GME TX3120s UHF
  • Coin dispenser mounted to gearstick surround

Trent has left a lot of the interior of the Lux alone – and with good reason. HiLuxes boast a simple yet functional design from the factory, and knowing Toyota were onto a good thing, Trent has kept the interior pretty simple. It’s not without a few tricks however, such as the ARB air compressor hidden behind the rear seat. “I put the compressor in the cab to keep it away from dust and mud, explains Trent.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Ute owners take note. This is how to build a sensational tray setup.”[/blockquote]

“I also added a dual air hose attachment to the compressor which runs to each door, so I can pump up both sides of tyres with ease.” It’s these little tricks throughout Trent’s truck that really make it even more practical. Another neat DIY accessory Trent has added is the coin dispenser on the gearstick surround, so he can organise all the loose change that finds its way into the 4WD. Not a bad little trick if you ask us!

A: When we relocated the rear shocks, it was a bit of trial and error to get the measurements right as you can’t just use a tape measure, move it and call it a day. We needed to mount the shocks a few times, and then make minor corrections to get it right.

A: Definitely do your research, have a pretty good idea on what you want before you start throwing money at it. Don’t be afraid to be different and budget for more than you first think.


ENGINE: 1KD-FTV 4 cylinder factory turbocharged diesel
GEARBOX: 5-speed manual
4WD ACTIVATION: Part time 4WD with shift on the fly 4WD activation
SUSPENSION: 4.5in Monster Rides lift up front. 4in Tough Dog leaves with relocated 6in Monster Rides shocks in the rear.
WHEELS AND TYRES: 305/70/R16 Kumho K71 tyres, Dynamic steel rims


“I would like to thank Joe and Kyle at Southern Cross off road, Jase at Staunch Customs, Mumfords Customs, my girlfriend Natasha Lavis for her patience and support, fellow Freedom 4×4 members and Jed Currey at Explore WA.”

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