Photos courtesy of Slee Off Road
Hello and welcome back to Shop Showcase, where Off Road Xtreme scours the country in search of off-road shops that you ought to know about. In the last episode, a small shop in Fletcher, North Carolina called U-Joint Offroad that builds 4WD van conversions was the subject.
Today, we’re here to bring to light Slee Off Road in Golden, Colorado. Founded by South African émigré Christo Slee in 1998, the company built itself on a foundation of passion for the 80 Series Land Cruiser.
For those unfamiliar, the 80 Series spans from 1991-97, and includes the 1995-97 Lexus LX 450s. Drawing from the long line of Land Cruiser heritage of can-do anywhere, anytime durability, the ’90s generation of Land Cruiser saw modifications in the form of a full-time 4WD system, a 24-valve straight-six engine, and anti-lock brakes.
And where the 5,000-pound off-roader was well-suited to the likes of Slee’s homeland of South Africa, the Land Cruiser needed a little help handling the in the boulder-strewn or red rock-country trails of the United States.
“Out of necessity and driven by budget, I started in my garage to develop the parts, selling to friends. It eventually grew bigger from that start,” said Slee.
One of Slee’s most interesting project cars was his project “Vlakvark” (“warthog”), which he made from an 80 Series Cruiser. The goal was to turn the four-pillar, four-door SUV into a two-pillar, two-door ute, and supply it with some new parts to upgrade its off-road worthiness.
A local auto shop, Alatao Auto, was outsourced to work on the body. The job they did was top-notch, as the team made professional marks and cuts on the necessary sections of the truck. The rear doors were sealed over and made to bond with the rear quarter panels by way of some clever welding, and the end result wound up looking fantastic.
Once back in the hands of the folks at Slee, the Land Cruiser underwent some more changes. The guys inserted the company’s ShortBus Bumper to replace the front, and applied a fresh bedliner to give a glimmering new look to the rear. They also installed a custom rear bumper with tire rack to replace its predecessor.
The guys installed a 6-inch lift kit, as well as upgraded brake lines on the Vlakvark’s undercarriage. Most everything else was kept stock, except for the transfer case (converted to part-time operation) and the axles (re-geared to a 5.29:1 ratio). An ARB locker was added to the rear axle.
In addition, the team gave the Land Cruiser much-needed skid plates for most of the underside, and had the stock wheels converted to beadlocks by Champion Beadlock in Lake Elsinore, California. Paired with some killer 37-inch Pro Comp tires, Project Vlakvark is now a 4×4 that’s right at home in the great outdoors.
Since opening, Slee Off Road has been busy expanding its reach to other Toyota models, such as the 100 Series Land Cruiser, 4Runner, Tacoma, FJ Cruiser, Tundra and LX 470. “Our focus for now is to get more prototyping capacity in house so that we can expand on the SLEE product line. These are the products that set us apart and allow us the opportunity to provide unique products to our customers,” said Slee.
With skill, tenacity, and innovation all working in concert over at Slee, we expect the team will have no trouble bringing bigger and better parts to off-road enthusiasts. For more information, visit the company’s website, and show them some love with a Like! on Facebook.