So let me preface this by saying that I know people compare this to the OME lift. With both companies being Australian, it's hard not to. Unfortunately, I've never driven an FJ with an OME lift so I will not be able to compare the two. I can however compare it to a stock set up, and an Icon stage 1 setup.
We'll start with where to buy it.
Metal Tech 4x4 Toyota Off Road Specialists
As most of you know, these guys are great. I ordered the kit on a Tuesday evening and almost immediately sent an email asking for a loose ETA. They responded and told me when the product would ship and to expect the normal 5 or so business days.
I received the lift the following Tuesday! Talk about FAST! While this is highly dependent upon Fed Ex, and could change, it was still exceptionally fast. They processed the order and it drop shipped from what I assume is Camel 4x4 (the US Ironman distributor) in New Jersey.
Yes, you read that right... only $510.00+shipping!
I purchased the standard kit. They have a Constant Load kit which is a heavier spring but since I don't plan on weighing down the vehicle much, I opt'd for the standard kit. They also have a medium weight kit that uses the standard springs, but the rear shocks of the Constant Load kit (Foam Cell Shocks). They are supposed to provide a firmer ride over the standard Nitro Gas Charged Shock in the rear.
COST UPDATE: 6/20/14
The pricing above is the price I paid for this kit nearly a year ago.
Since then, the price HAS increased to $804.00+ shipping
for the Performance Nitro Charged kit (and goes up from there).
Knowing what I know now, I would absolutely purchase this kit again if I were to ever buy another FJ. I know that OME makes a great product, but Ironman 4x4 is a solid contender IMO.
I was a little surprised that the shipping was almost $70.00 upon check out. but once the kit got to my doorstep, I understood the cost. This thing is HEAVY and, it shipped from NJ, all the way to AZ.
The kit is very well packaged. it had an outer layer of plastic wrap reinforced by packing tape.
It then had the "master carton" in which contained the individual parts.
Upon taking the springs/shocks/struts out of the box, they are noticeably larger than the OEM stuff. Thickness and weight wise. Just because this kit is cheap, does not mean it's lacking in quality. It seems to be very well built and inspired some peace of mind about buying an aftermarket lift.
Installation IS a pain in the ass. it's very straight forward, but does take some time. Many people don't opt' to remove the sway bar... I did. it helped a TON.
There are three ways to compress/decompress the suspension. 1. Use a wall mounted compressor (best). 2. Use a floor jack under the lower control arm to compress/decompress spring (better). 3.Rent some manual spring compressors (yikes... these things have ALWAYS been scary to use for me).
Front Kit installed:
Without having a wall mounted unit to use, we opt'd for using a floor jack under the lower control arm. Follow this thread here for a step by step. Also, once you get the spring decompressed, loosen the rear bolts of the LCA and everything should drop out pretty easily. This way you don't have to wedge a breaker bar in the LCA and torque on it to get the strut assembly out.
OME Install - no spring compressor - Toyota 120 Platforms Forum
Height of the Lift:
This lift is described as a 2" lift. However, the kit comes with an optional 1/2" spacer (which ends up being 1" of additional lift) that goes under the spring perch mount in the front.
Here's a pic of the spacer:
Without this spacer installed, YOU WILL HAVE A 1" RAKE!
With the spacer installed, you get a level lift with an overall 3" lift in the front, and about a 2" lift in the rear.
I didn't take a before pic, but I did measure it at 35" from the fenderwell to the ground. Directly after installation, it measured 38.5" and now that the spring has settled a little it's right around 38".
After (with 265/70/17's):
The front is a smidge stiffer than the OEM setup. The rear is MUCH stiffer than the OEM setup! I'm glad I bought the standard kit and not the constant load kit. The kit offers improved handling and feel on the road and seems to have less roll around corners (thank the rear being stiff for that).
I can confidently say that the Icon Stage 1 is a noticeably better kit. It's better balanced in driving on road. but for 1500+, that's what you get. The Icon's are also adjustable, and re-buildable. The Ironman kit is neither. But, at $510.00 it is an AMAZING value. I could buy 3 QUALITY Ironman kits for the cost of one Icon setup... and that's only Stage1.
After settling a little bit, the front seems to have softened up a little. Probably close to OEM feel. I wish I could've ordered a bit of a stiffer front without ordering the heavier rear. IMO, the rear is perfect for me as it sits (w/o any extra weight). I'm sure it'd be a little too soft if I added a rear bumper/carrier.
Specs after alignment:
So with the spacer installed I'm 0.3 degrees and 0.5 degrees positive on the left and right side (front). UCA's may be in my future but for now, the FJ drives great. I'm a bit of a suspension noob so maybe it doesn't even really matter?
I'm putting the kit through it's paces on Wednesday and Thursday. So this section is to be continued...
Well, I finally got a chance to take the FJ on some nice trails in Sedona. Nothing too difficult, but with a little bit of everything, I got to see the suspension shine in multiple categories.
While I would prefer a stiffer front end for on road driving, the softness of the set up really ate up the rocky roads. I only aired down to 25psi and the ride was nice and smooth. Not cadillac smooth, but still very nice.
I had 0 trouble with any of the obstacles all day. Up and down fairly slick rock faces, decent articulation, and what seemed like minimal body roll around off camber corners.
Overall, in mild offroad performance, there doesn't seem to be too much difference between what I have, and what my friends Icon Stage 1 set up can do. Now that may be due to two things. 1, I'm not in tune enough to notice, or 2, we didn't do anything difficult enough to make the Icon kit stand out.
Overall it was a great trip, here are some photos of the kit in action:
Heading down Devils Staircase
About to come down Slide Rock
Parked near Chicken Point
We'll, it's been nearly a year since this kit has gone on. It's handled everything I've thrown at it. It's lasted through killing two sets of tires or rocks so the kit has seen some abuse. Still very happy with my purchase and I'm excited to see what else Ironman has available for the FJ.
Here's a quick photo of "Barney" from yesterday.