Project FZJ80 Land Cruiser: Metal Tech 4x4 Rock Sliders

Mar. 13, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez

Making the jump to trails with larger rocks and obstacles has the potential for body damage. Sometimes these hurdles on the trail are planned; others surprise us along the way. As we started to venture into more remote areas with our Land Cruiser, we had some close calls resulting in minor body damage. We decided it was time to get serious about our body armor before something major happened.

We set out to find a pair of quality rock sliders for added body protection on our 80 series Toyota Land Cruiser. Design and craftsmanship was a big factor when deciding what to get. After searching for a few months, talking to numerous Land Cruiser owners and inspecting different brands first hand, we really liked the sliders from Metal Tech 4x4.

Based just outside of Portland, Oregon, the crew at Metal Tech 4x4 builds quality body armor and suspension components for the Toyota Land Cruiser and FJ Cruiser. What started as fabrication on a personal trail rig, these parts caught the eye of others and the requests for roll cages, sliders, skid plates and custom builds started to roll in. Today Metal Tech 4x4 has grown into a full-fledged off-road business.
The CAD designed Metal Tech 4x4 sliders are built using an “aircraft wing” type of construction. The outer “skin” or shell is precision, laser-cut 3/16” steel that is formed on CNC forming equipment. On the inside, a combination of 1/4” and 3/16” inner ribs support the outer shell—producing an extremely rigid, relatively lightweight main body for the slider.

Much of Metal Tech’s success can be attributed to owner Mark Hawley’s attention to detail and his innovative designs. Mark makes it his business to make sure that every part that is fabricated in his shop has been thoroughly designed and tested before it is branded with the Metal Tech name. Every piece is handcrafted in the USA and stays true to their motto “quality over quantity.”

Some other features include:
• 100% Precision Laser Cut and Formed Steel
• 2-Stage Rub Rail (Patented design)
• Powder-Coated Inside and Out
• Bolt-on application, no welding or cutting required
• Catalytic Converter Protection (1995-1997 FZJ80 models)
• Optional Accessory Mounts available for extra storage (Air Tank or Spare Optima Battery)
• Four rock light tabs all pre-installed ready to go

We ordered up a set of Metal Tech 4x4 sliders, made to order and delivered within a few weeks.

The Metal Tech sliders must ship on a pallet due to their size and weight.  We were able to set up truck freight from Oregon straight to Off Road Warehouse in Escondido, Calif., where the installation would take place.

Installation of the Metal Tech 4x4 sliders can be done by the average DIY. They are a direct bolt-on, so no welding or cutting is required. Since the sliders weigh 91 lbs. for the passenger side
and 76 lbs. for the divers side, it is recommended that at least two people muscle them around during the assembly process.

We needed help with our installation, so once again we called on Off Road Warehouse (ORW) in Escondido, CA. Store manager Wally Palmer and his crew have been a great help with our projects. They have all the right tools for the job and are familiar with our Adventure Land Cruiser Project.

Bellow is an overview of what it takes to install a set of Metal Tech 4x4 sliders on a Toyota FZJ80 Land Cruiser.

The factory running boards had served their purpose during their previous life as a mall wagon, but now our adventure rig needed off-road protection so the stockers had to go. Jason Smith, Lead Tech at ORW had them off in no time.

The Metal Tech 4x4 sliders are held in place by heavy-duty Grade 8 U-bolts attached to the frame. No cutting or welding is required; they are truly a direct bolt-on application.

The installation job is heavy and requires two people to lift and position the slider in place. It can also be done with one person if you’re resourceful. Jason used jack stands to keep the 100 lbs.+ sliders raised during alignment and bolt-on.

On the passenger side there are a total of 2 Grade 8 U-bolts and a third mounting point that tie in the catalytic converter protection to the frame using four Grade 8 bolts. Once aligned and finger tight, the bolts are fastened down to give the Metal Tech 4x4 Slider its solid mount.  

The driver side installs similar to the passenger side, minus the catalytic converter plate. The driver slider uses a total of 3 Grade 8 U-bolts, with one of them carefully positioned under the plumbing that runs along the frame. Don’t put them over the plumbing or they will be cinched and “hosed.”

The Metal Tech 4x4 sliders installed nicely. Everything fit like it should. Total installation time was around 1.5 hours with the help of Jason Smith from Off Road Warehouse.

We really like the Metal Tech 4x4 sliders and their Patented 2-Stage Rub Rail (kick-out).  They look great, are strong and best of all, they fit our Land Cruiser very well. 

We’ve had them on the rig since the beginning of the year, and have been lucky to test them in places like Superstition Mountain, Anza-Borrego and Johnson Valley during King of The Hammers. We weren’t looking for trouble, but somehow we found it while chasing the race--a big staircase drop hidden by sand and the sun made our Land Cruiser fly off and land hard on a rock. It hit so hard that it rocked the entire vehicle. I had a bad feeling that something bad happened underneath.

We stopped to see what damage had been done. There was no major damage, and just some scratches to the powder coat on the catalytic converter protection plate. I can live with that. The Metal Tech 4x4 slider had saved my cats and undercarriage – worth every penny.

Truckhaven Hills, CA. The 80 Series Land Cruiser has a long 112-inch wheelbase. It tends to high-center on perky obstacles. The Metal Tech 4x4 sliders are getting good use. (Photo: Josh Burns)

Overall, we highly recommend the Metal Tech 4x4 sliders. They add more protection than factory running boards and produce better ground clearance—improving your off-road performance. They also make a great surface to use a Hi-Lift Jack. The Metal Tech sliders will pay for themselves the first time you hit a rock, hill or stump. So don’t wait any longer, get some sliders!

Metal Tech 4x4
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