4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS DAN EVERETT PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR

HAVE you priced-up kit­ting out a new 4x4 these days? Tick the boxes for just the ba­sics like big-name bull­bars, fancy al­loy wheels and laser-beam driv­ing lights and you’re quickly look­ing at an in­voice in the thou­sands. Hell, open the cheque­book and that fig­ure could climb even higher. Sure, you’ll end up with a killer 4x4 with all the good bits, but is it the best way to spend your hard-earned?

A boil­er­maker by trade, Queens­land na­tive Jamin fig­ured he’d rather sink his hard-earned into travel than ac­ces­sories, so he fired up the welder, dusted off the grinder, and set to work build­ing the well-trav­elled Colorado you’re look­ing at now.

While the RG Colorado looks far from stock now, Jamin picked it up brand-spank­ing new just three years ago. Since then, he’s pieced it to­gether one mod­i­fi­ca­tion at a time to get it ready for se­ri­ous ex­plor­ing.

We’ll kick things off at the top with the un­mis­tak­able roof-mounted tinny. Boat load­ers aren’t un­usual, but they’re not nor­mally some­thing knocked up by the owner them­selves – even rarer are ones that kick up and out of the way with a set of gas struts, to al­low the roof-top tent to fold out for the ul­ti­mate beach camp set-up. The cus­tom set-up is zapped to­gether with a com­bi­na­tion of box-tube and sheet steel, and it bolts di­rectly to the fac­tory tub. The unique ar­range­ment also houses a set of trac­tion boards on the driver’s side, with the pas­sen­ger side stow­ing a high-lift jack and long-han­dled shovel. Both

sides lift up re­veal­ing the bush-proven camp­ing set-up nes­tled in­side, where a set of Ti­tan al­loy draw­ers hold ev­ery­thing from re­cov­ery gear to cook­ing equip­ment. There’s also a Waeco CF80L fridge strapped down to the in­cluded fridge slide, while the Mer­cury out­board en­gine finds a home be­tween heavy-duty tie-downs. The fridge is fed a con­stant sup­ply of power thanks to a sec­ond bat­tery tucked away in­side a box be­hind the draw­ers, with a 20A Thun­der Auto DC-DC charger keep­ing the lights on.

Be­fore calling job done on the Colorado’s rear end, Jamin fired up the trusty grinder again, this time to lose the rear quar­ters on the tub. Re­plac­ing them is a se­ri­ously stout DIY rear bar in­cor­po­rat­ing twin jerry can hold­ers and a swing-out tyre car­rier. With the spare tyre up and out of the way, Jamin was able to slot in a 70L wa­ter tank and 12V wa­ter pump set-up.

Mov­ing down the flanks of the RG, Jamin fired up the welder again, this time in the form of a one-off bas­ket-style roof rack. It’s lined with tight-knit wire mesh, so it makes the per­fect place to store ex­tra camp­ing gear – it also houses a roll-out awning for those sunny days on the tracks, which is re­ally handy.

At the pointy end of the Holden is a bull­bar un­like any you’ve seen be­fore.

“It was one of two pro­to­type bars a small com­pany knocked up,” Jamin told us.

“I used the foun­da­tion then cut and shut it to my specs. I’ve added all the top hoops, too, and re­in­forced the bar to run a larger winch than it was designed for.”

That larger winch is a Tigerz11 12,000lb unit wrapped in syn­thetic rope. The credit card also got swiped for a set of no-name LED spot lights front and cen­tre, with a set of match­ing LED

light bars off to the side light­ing up Jamin’s pe­riph­er­als for stray ’roos.

The light­ing package is rounded out with a set of pro­jec­tor lights re­plac­ing the stock head­lights, giv­ing the Colorado an up­dated look and adding ex­tra reach be­fore the spot­lights need to be called into ac­tion.

The huge fac­tory wheel arches front and rear have been stuffed full of 315/75R16 Hankook Dy­napro tyres, which puts them around 34.6inch. Wheels are classic Dy­namic 16x8 -22 steel­ies, and Jamin fit a set of Kut Snake over­fender flares to keep the wheels within the con­fines of the body with­out at­tract­ing too much at­ten­tion from Mr Plod. Of course, all the flares in the world won’t help if the tyres phys­i­cally don’t fit in the wheel arches, so a sig­nif­i­cant al­ti­tude ad­just­ment was re­quired. Af­ter a lot of plan­ning and care­ful mea­sur­ing the body is now sit­ting a full 50mm higher above the frame thanks to a body lift front to rear. The front sus­pen­sion copped an ad­di­tional four inches with a set of ad­justable Bil­stein shocks and coils.

Ad­justable up­per con­trol arms were also called for to get the wheel align­ment back into spec, while a cus­tom diff-drop was needed to flat­ten out the CV an­gle and avoid pre­ma­ture wear. The rear copped a sim­i­lar lift, though this time it’s in the form of 300kg con­stant load EFS springs backed up by a set of Snake Rac­ing ex­tended shack­les.

The orig­i­nal shocks were soon turfed af­ter find­ing they couldn’t cope with the new-found rear ar­tic­u­la­tion, and in their place are a set of off-the-shelf ex­tended shocks.

With such an ex­ten­sive list of tour­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions you’d be for­given for as­sum­ing there’s a host of go-fast good­ies un­der the bon­net to move it all along – “it ac­tu­ally makes plenty of power stock,” Jamin told us. With 500Nm right out of the fac­tory floor, the 2.8L Du­ra­max eas­ily out­classed ev­ery other dual cab ute in terms of sheer grunt when it first came out, even muscling around the 4.5L V8 in 70 Series Cruis­ers. Of course, Jamin isn’t a leave-it-alone kind of bloke, so de­spite the


Du­ra­max punch­ing out plenty of grunt in stock form it still copped a three-inch turbo back ex­haust sys­tem for a lit­tle ex­tra bark, while the stain­less snorkel and air­box help im­prove air­flow.

Swing open the doors and it’s im­me­di­ately clear the Col­lie copped plenty of at­ten­tion on the in­side. Nav­i­ga­tion is taken care of by a VMS GPS unit, while comms are han­dled on two fronts: A GME UHF al­lows easy com­mu­ni­ca­tion in con­voy or to other 4x4s, while a Bury unit helps keep Jamin in phone range as long as pos­si­ble. To cut down on road noise and make it more com­fort­able for long black-top days, the in­te­rior was gut­ted be­fore be­ing fully lined with Dy­na­mat sound dead­en­ing and pieced back to­gether. A set of ubiq­ui­tous seat cov­ers also got the nod, but be­fore Jamin could call things done he took to the cen­tre con­sole with a grinder to in­stall an 8L Waeco cen­tre con­sole fridge.

We’ve come across plenty of big-dol­lar builds here at 4X4 Australia and, sure, they’re al­ways ex­cit­ing. How­ever, it’s easy to for­get that the whole pur­pose of buy­ing and build­ing a 4x4 is to get you ex­plor­ing and en­joy­ing Australia, and that’s some­thing Jamin has hit head on with his DIY tourer.


A VMS GPS unit takes care of nav­i­ga­tion and a GME UHF han­dles all the comms.

A boat, a tent, a fridge and a gen­er­a­tor – there’s plenty to make Jamin’s camp­site and off-road ad­ven­ture com­fort­able and full of fun. This RG Holden Colorado is ob­vi­ously far from stan­dard and has had lots of time spent on it with af­ter­mar­ket up­grades.

A Waeco CF80L fridge sits in the back and is pow­ered by a sec­ond, tucked-away bat­tery.

Ad­justable Bil­stein struts do duty un­der the Holden’s front end.

Small up­grades un­der the bon­net in­clude a snorkel for air­flow and an ex­haust for bark.

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