Surrey Off-Road Specialists Limited

In 2005 Paul Graham-Clark, a Toyota 40/45 enthusiast (to put it mildly), purchased a rather tatty 45 LWB pickup that he had spotted down on the UK South coast. The number plate on it was from his home town in South Africa and it seemed a good idea to purchase it and restore it, with the aim to do an overland trip back to South Africa in it. The original plan was that he wanted to do as much work himself as possible, with us providing a safety net for the technical, safety and structural areas.

I mentioned to Mark Evans of Discovery Channels “A 4x4 is born” (one of loads of the “is born “ series) that we had this project coming in and he decided he would like to feature it in his new show “Wreck Rescue” (currently showing on Discovery Real-time).

We had a meeting with Paul and agreed to proceed. I appointed my good mate Les Dale (who also works with Mark Evans on his various projects) to run and oversee the project for us. We cleared out one of the workshops and Paul, Les and Mark started ripping it apart with the cameras rolling. Initially it didn’t look too bad, but as it came apart, more and more serious rust started to appear.

Over the next few weeks the vehicle was gradually, totally stripped down to its core components.

One of the drawbacks with restoring a vehicle of this type is that they have been worked hard and everything eventually wears out. Toyota has a good reputation for building tough reliable vehicles that keep going. In this ones case it was still hanging on and actually drove reasonably well. We were amazed when we stripped it. We really didn’t expect to find the level of wear of all the mechanical parts, everything was totally knackered! I suppose it was to be expected, with hindsight. This vehicle has spent its working life in the bush, poorly maintained by bush mechanics who just cobbled it together to keep it going.

Once the engine was stripped down, it was found to be in all sorts of trouble. The bores were badly worn and one had a chip in it! The main bearings were hammered (literally). There were loads of problems. The engine had been rebuilt badly at some point and that had caused even more problems. The engine needed a complete rebuild. When we stripped out the rear axle, the (semi floating) half shafts were in trouble where they run through the rear wheel bearings and more surprisingly the massive crown wheel was badly chewed up.

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