Words & Images Angus Boswell
Lionel Lewis, the man behind LA Sport, is one of those larger-than-life characters who has been a leading figure in the 4×4 world for years. He is an originator, often having the vision and drive to make things happen far before others have worked out the business opportunity. In his time, he has built some truly radical rigs, including a couple of monster trucks that ride three metres off the ground. So, when he asked us to take a closer look at his latest Hilux Revo build, I was expecting something off the scale.
Imagine our surprise, when we drove into the LAS headquarters in the Gezina district of Pretoria, to see a super neat and tidy new Hilux decked out as a proper expedition vehicle – albeit one riding on a meaty set of 315/70 R17 (35-inch) Cooper STT Pro mud terrain tyres, on blacked-out XD129 rims. Look a bit closer, and you see that everything has been carefully selected from the top end of the LAS catalogue, or from the best of the local suppliers, to create a rig that does it all in style
Lionel tells us that he designed this Revo as a daily driver, and so one of the priorities was that it handled at speed and could corner safely despite the big rubber. Apart from being easy to drive around town, it also had to be a top-performer on any 4×4 challenge. What’s more, Lionel didn’t want to make any major body alterations: this was a brand-new Hilux 2.8 six-speed manual double-cab, after all. So, to that end, he hasn’t modified the engine much at all, beyond an easierbreathing air filter and a mild performance chip. The big effort had to go into the ride, handling and articulation department.
To get the wheels under the arches and the castor angles right to ensure that the Lux behaves at speed, avoiding the dreaded big-rubber head shake, the fellows at Ride Dynamics built two beefy lower control arms for the front suspension which push the rotation centre forward a few centimetres. Next in was a full LAS leaf and coil suspension with a full bushing kit, giving a 2-inch lift all round, in addition to a 5-inch body lift.
LA Sport Hilux Revo Images
The damping is out of the top drawer: big-bore Pro Fender units slide into the coils, piggy-back reservoir units are bolted above the rear springs, and 3-inch bump stops have been added to soak up the big hits. A quick drive around the LAS 4×4 test track revealed just how plush the Lux is over the rough stuff – massive axle articulation ensures traction over huge axle twisters. Next, a blast on the highway and through the teeming Pretoria traffic showed how well-behaved this big foot is at speed.
But, back to the build, because it is set up for extra capability over any terrain. That meant bolting on an LAS Revo 2016 bull bar, with its integrated fog lights, LED strip lights, round jacking points and recovery points. Behind that went a top-end 12 500lb plasma winch, with its distinctive blue synthetic rope. And to light up the road ahead, whatever the conditions, a set of Cannon LED spotlights and an 18-LED light bar adorn the bull bar. Next in was an LAS rear bumper, also with recovery and jacking points, a mount for the recovery tracks and Hi-Lift jack, plus a right-hand-swing wheel carrier for the extra spare.
Body protection comes in the form of fender protectors all round, sturdy plastic covers that cleverly keep off the worst of the bush stripes, and a set of the latest design LAS rock sliders, which are fabricated from wide round tubing in a neat tucked-away design, and complemented by stainless-steel tread plates. A full under-body protector-plate kit helps fend off the worst of the scrapes and rock damage.
The interior has benefited from a set of Takla seat covers customised specifically for LAS; just the thing when trying to keep the dirt off the inside of the vehicle. To ensure that all the overlanding gear stays safe and protected, a Bushtec aluminium canopy was fitted, with its full-length swing-up doors on each side, plus sturdy push-in locks, storage units and reinforcing to take the load from a roof rack. A drawer system completes the packing additions, and includes tie-down eyelets and sliders to make access to lessused items an easy thing.
The LAS big foot Lux is a work in progress – so far, it has cost in the region of R230 000 to make this capable and mean-looking overlander. It all looks sensible on its own, but drive the LAS Lux up next to a standard vehicle, and it’s like looking at a prop forward teaching sport to a bunch of sixth graders. Nice one, Lionel.
For more info and fitment options, go to LA Sport on www.lasport.co.za or phone 012 808 9951.