Krister's 1981 Toyota Hilux
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By: Harry Wagner - April 2002

The truck as it stood with the first round of modifications.

Concord, California resident Kris Favareille has something in common with many of us, he has an addiction. What started as a harmless hobby has spiraled out of control. Kris picked up his 81 Hilux in 2000 in an effort to maintain his Tacoma for daily driving. The truck had been sitting for three years, yet only needed a new battery initially. Much to the chagrin of wheelers on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Kris's 20 year old truck has zero rust and still sports the factory paint. Soon after the purchase it was clear that Kris had more than a new battery in store for his truck. He started with thorough maintenance, a 3" Skyjacker lift, and 33" Mud Terrain tires. To turn the tires, Kris had 5.29s installed in the differentials, along with an ARB Air Locker in the front and a Detroit Locker in the rear. Those parts stayed on the truck for about a year, before Kris's affliction turned critical. At that point he got serious and started building and fabricating a truck capable of traversing any trail in its path.

Ascending the Soup Bowl on the Rubicon Trail.

Off came the 3" lift springs and on went longer All-Pro 5" springs with a buggy leaf in the rear. In order to combat axle wrap, Kris built a trick traction bar out of 1 1/2" x .120" wall tubing, loaded with AOR Orbit Eye bushings on each end to prevent binding. With the suspension dialed in, Kris turned his attention to the drivetrain. Like many Toyota pickup owners, he chose to keep his motor stock for dependability. He previously had an '86 pickup that still ran great with 283,000 miles on it, so Kris knows that these motors last. The only modifications made were on the exhaust side. Kris also had a custom "stubby" exhaust fabricated that mounts his catalytic converter and muffler directly behind the Thorley header. The entire combination is very short and exits to the side directly behind the cab.

Testing the suspension out at Carnagie.

The original L-45 4-speed transmission was swapped out for a Marlin prepped L-52 5-speed and is mated to dual transfer cases connected with a Marlin adapter. Concord Drive Shaft Specialists built custom drivelines with CV joints front and rear to handle the added flex and lift. Kris chose Front Range Off Road Fabrication's crossmember and skidplate to locate and protect his dual cases. Further down the line a wider rear axle out of an 88 pickup was added in the rear, while the front axle was topped with OTT crossover steering and an IFS steering box. Both axles are capped with 35" Super Swamper SSRs wrapped around 15x10 black steel wheels.

Kris's truck conquering the Rubicon.
The Con has the last laugh though!

Body modifications include trimmed front fenders and a custom flatbed with an integral rack. Kris chose to build a completely flat flatbed instead of a "Chacon" style bed in order to maximize space, as the excursions he takes often last multiple days and he is required to carry a lot of gear. Kris reports that the bed is built out of 3/16" thick 4" x 4" rectangular tubing he had lying around. While he appreciates the extra stability in the rear, Kris claims that he would have purchased thinner wall 2x2 tubing to save weight if he had to build the bed again.

Coming up Winch Hill 5 during Sierra Trek.

Kris has taken this current setup to the Rubicon, Barrett Lake, and Fordyce Trail, among others. He is happy with how the rig works, but like any addict he craves more. Future plans for Kris's truck include vented rotors and IFS calipers and replacing the SSRs with 36" SXs. Beyond that his affliction calls for a new trail rig using a 3rd generation Xtra Cab pickup. Kris's plans involve running an FJ-80 front axle and using an OTT adapter to mate a Dana 300 behind a Toyota transfer case. He has already amassing parts for this new rig and if past projects are any indication, I would expect to see his new rig on the trail soon.

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