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Welcome to the LAND CRUISER & SUV MODIFICATION BLOG where you'll
find ever more ways to customize your rig. If you
don't already have it, check out my eBook
for the absolute best ways to modify your SUV!

101 Ways to Modify Land Cruisers & Other SUVs

Whether you want to take your vehicle on extended backcountry expeditions or just make it stand out and look like its ready for adventure, mountain guide Mike Wood shows you how to:
  • Build a combination sleeping platform/storage compartment that will allow as many as four people to sleep in the rear of the vehicle. sleeping platform photos
  • Add over a dozen additional storage areas to your SUV.
  • Prepare your vehicle for extended expeditions.
  • Modify your vehicle to carry 6-8 people.
  • Double up. From dual batteries and dual spare tires to dual radios, learn how to double your options.

  • The author has been involved in backcountry activities for over three decades. In 1998 he started Fresh Air Adventures mountain guiding service. A Land Cruiser owner of over a dozen years (and before that a Jeep owner), he has made over 100 modifications to enhance his vehicle.
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    In the meanwhile, check out these bonus tips!

    1. TARPS: I've added a tarp to the list of items i keep in the vehicle. It seems i often come across free firewood, a piece of machinery, wet rafting gear, etc. It's just a lot easier to keep the cargo compartment dry and clean if i can lay out a tarp. Doesn't have to be huge, a 6' x 8' will do the job.
    2. CONTAINERSIn tip #69 in the book, I suggest using Rubbermaid containers from Wal-Mart to fit under the sleeping / storage platform. My local Wal-Mart no longer carries this size (39" x 16" x 9"high). An alternative is to use Sterilite containers (available from Target and some Wal-Marts). These are 34 3/4" long x 16 1/2" wide x 6" high.
    3. METER MAID To track your mpg and learn how to increase your gas mileage with a Scan Gauge. For about $140-160, you can purchase a Scan Gauge, or for about $300 you can get an even more elaborate Kiwi mpg meter. These will show a continuous mpg readout. Through observation and practice, you can learn to adjust your driving habits to increase your miles per gallon by up to 30%.
    4. BAR HOPPING: Replace the stock front bumper with an ARB bull bar. These heavy-duty bumpers will take a hit from most anything without being damaged. Available in winch-mount and non-winch mount models. I don’t have to tell you to skip the non-winch mount model.
    5. A HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: Repaint in Zebra striping. For the ultimate expedition look, repaint your vehicle in a custom zebra pattern. Watch the old Daktari TV show or Hatari movie for ideas, or see www.tednugent.com/hunting for a photo of Ted’s zebra striped SUV.
    6. LICENSE TO CHILL: Personalized license plates. I used the plate SUMIT for many years when I was using my Landcruiser as a mountain guiding trip vehicle. A photo of this was used on the cover of Highpointers magazine.
    7. SNOW TIME: Snow chains. I prefer the type that are actually cables. They’re much lighter and easier to install and remove. They still give you plenty of bite into snow and ice and there’s less chance of damaging your vehicle with a loose chain (been there, done that).
    8. PIK-A-PAK: Replacing the stock ignition with a Jacobs Omni Pak will give you slightly more power and better gas mileage. This is a fairly simple procedure that costs less than $100. The down side is the Omni Pak’s I’ve used have always burned out after only a year or two, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits vs. the hassle factor.
    9. REAL SLICK: Adding slick 50 occasionally to the oil and STP fuel injector cleaner occasionally to the gas tank will help your engine run better.
    10. IT’S A SHOO IN: Spare sandals in overhead mesh and spare shoes in the right rear compartment. These come in handy when you need a change of footwear.
    11. CAN’T HACK IT: Keep a Hacky sack in the center console. This will keep you busy if you arrive somewhere with extra time.
    12. TOP THIS: Topo maps are invaluable for off-road use. They allow you to see the terrain, along with dirt roads and trails that wouldn’t be depicted on regular maps.
    13. I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW: Rain-X will make your windows easier to see out of when it rains. Shaving cream works for this too!
    14. ARE WE THERE YET? GPS units. If you’re going completely off-road, consider bringing a GPS with you. You’ll need a topographic map for the area too (road maps won’t give you lat/longs so you wouldn’t be able to correlate your position on a road map).
    15. BRUSH OFFS: Brush guards (for lights). Do they protect your lights? Well, yes and no. On the plus side you do receive some protection. On the negative side, these are more likely to catch branches, boulders, fences, etc as you drive by and get torn off. Stoneguards, on the other hand, cover your headlights and are not in a location where they’ll be pulled off by objects as you squeeze by.
    16. TOO BIG A RIG: So you bought or built that fantastic rig and now it won't fit in your garage. Here are seven methods to remedy the situation (from easiest to most complex):
      1. First, if its close to fitting you can try pulling in slower. As the vehicle goes over the lip of the garage concrete floor, the body bounces upwards. Reducing your speed will reduce the amount of bounce.
      2. Second, try going in the opposite direction. If you've been pulling in front first, try pulling in rear first.
      3. There is a small trim piece on the bottom of the garage door frame (a mutton that is usually about 1" wide x 1/2" deep). This is typically the first piece that is scraped as you pull in. Ususally this is just decorative, but if your garage door barely reaches the top of the garage door frame opening then it could also help keep water out. This can be pryed off fairly easily with a chisel. Just pry it off and then repaint it.
      4. Usually the lip of the concrete for the garage floor is 1" or less. Occasionally, it can be 2" or 3". If you have a 3" lip, you can use a circular saw with a diamond tipped concrete cutting blade on the lip. What you want to do is to cut the sharp corner of the lip off. Use a 45 degree angle on the saw. . Doing this will let the vehicle slide a little bit more under the garage door opening frame. One caution: See how the lip lines up with the garage door and if the garage door will still be able to make good closure after you cut off the lip.
      5. Reduce the springs or lift of the vehicle and add adjustable air shocks. You can purchase air shocks that will let you lower and raise the vehicle with the flick of a switch.
      6. Change the tires to a smaller size.
      7. Dismantle the top portion of the garage door frame and rebuilt it at a higher height.
    17. COVER UPS: Off road lights typically come with hard plastic covers. These crack and wear out fairly quickly. Most people just go without after the covers wear out and start to fall off. Then after the lights aren't covered they get stone chips in them. The solution I've found for this is to replace the hard plastic covers with generic soft vinyl covers. These can be found at dollars stores for - $1!
    18. QUICK WAY TO CARRY DRYWALL If you haven't had a chance to build a sleeping / cargo platform (as detailed in the book), in a pinch you can haul drywall by folding down the rear seat and placing a small piece of 3/4" plywood over the wheelwells. I use a piece that is 38" long x 48" wide (the wide section goes side to side over the wheel wells). One end of this will rest on the carpet, two sides will rest on the wheel wells and the back end (this end will be sticking up in the air). Place a box under the plywood between the wheel wells. It can just be a cardboard box as its main purpose is to keep the plywood centered between the wheel wells. Also, the size of the plywood and the size of the box can be pretty much whatever fits, so long as the plywood is at least 48" wide. After the box and plywood are in place, the drywall can be laid flat on the plywood. Keep the tailgate up and open up the rear window so that the drywall rests on the plywood at the front and rests on the rear hatch (sticking through the window) at the rear. Place a moving blanket on the rear hatch to protect it and the drywall.
    19. CARGO DIVIDER: Another use for the sleeping platform is to use it with the rear seat folded up and the front portion of the platform in a vertical postion (rather than folded back horizontally on itself). In this configuration, it can be used to isolate cargo in the rear of the vehicle. Note: You will either have to have enough cargo in place for the vertical board to stay propped in place or you will have to attach the board to an overhead roll bar with bungy cords.Submitted by Travis Taylor.

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