CUS­TOM: Y62 PA­TROL DOU­BLE-CAB

YOU CAN’T BUY A NEW PA­TROL UTE FROM NIS­SAN ANY­MORE, BUT YOU COULD AL­WAYS MAKE ONE. PETER THORPE’S TOUGH Y62 PA­TROL DUAL-CAB IS ONE SUCH CRE­ATION.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS JUSTIN WALKER PHOTOS ALASTAIR BROOK

BLINK, then don’t be afraid to blink again, be­cause this ain’t no or­di­nary 4x4 dual-cab ute. Yep, it’s a Y62 Pa­trol. In fact, it’s the first Y62 dual-cab built and out on the tracks – a dis­tinct de­par­ture from the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of Toy­ota LC200 dual-cabs do­ing the rounds these days. And yeah, we agree, chop­ping and chang­ing a Y62 sure does seem like a crazy idea, but that view is eas­ily dis­missed when you see this bruiser in the metal – and lis­ten to its pas­sion­ate owner, Peter Thorpe, talk about what he rates as the ul­ti­mate all-rounder.

“IT IS THE MOST UN­DER­ES­TI­MATED FOUR WHEEL DRIVE ON THE MAR­KET ... HEAPS OF POWER, COM­FORT­ABLE, BIG, ROOMY AND RE­ALLY, RE­ALLY GOOD OFF AND ON ROAD”

NOT SO CRAZY AF­TER ALL

PETER has owned – and raced – a raft of of­froad­ers over the years, swap­ping his be­hind-the-wheel ten­ure be­tween ear­lier model Pa­trols and what he terms a short step to the ‘dark side’ of Land Cruiser own­er­ship, be­fore re­turn­ing to the Nis­san fold with the pur­chase of a Y62, a ve­hi­cle that, in stan­dard form, he al­ways ad­mired.

“It is just the most un­der­es­ti­mated four­wheel drive on the mar­ket,” Peter says. “Heaps of power, com­fort­able, big, roomy – all that sort of thing – and re­ally, re­ally good of­fand on-road.”

So it wasn’t that long un­til things started go­ing a wee bit wild. Peter came up with the idea of trans­form­ing the Y62 into a dual-cab rig, some­thing that had never been done and wasn’t re­ally thought pos­si­ble. His aim was to build an ‘all-rounder’ that would be equally adept at trans­port­ing him and his fam­ily on their reg­u­lar camp­ing ad­ven­tures, as well as his own fish­ing and hunt­ing ex­pe­di­tions – plus, it would see a lot of tow­ing work. En­cour­ag­ingly, his idea didn’t seem that far­fetched af­ter he pro­posed it to On Track 4X4’s An­drew Cas­sar.

“I rang An­drew and spoke to him and said this is what I want to do,” Peter re­mem­bers. “No-one else has done one ... while ev­ery­one else has had Land Cruis­ers cut and other things cut, no­body has cut a Y62 Pa­trol. He just said, ‘Yep, let’s do it’”.

An­drew laughs when asked about the ques­tion of trans­form­ing the Y62, jok­ingly re­fer­ring to it as ‘the ques­tion I re­ally didn’t want to an­swer’ but he reck­oned it could be done. And, he knew the ex­act crew of spe­cial­ists to en­trust with the project, firstly check­ing with the en­gi­neer that he uses for his work at On Track 4X4 and then en­list­ing Les at Tin­man Fabri­ca­tions, who he rates in­cred­i­bly highly, to firstly an­swer the ‘can it be done’ ques­tion, and then to do the ac­tual cut­ting work. Once he re­ceived nods of agree­ment he got back to Peter with the ques­tion of when he wanted to start, and the big build be­gan.

SMALL STEPS, BIG GAINS

THE Y62 is a high-tech, mod­ern 4x4 with all the usual stan­dard fit­ments these ve­hi­cles

en­tail, and it was here that the team struck a few small prob­lems, most no­tably with the air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem and the Pa­trol’s airbags. The ve­hi­cle’s air-con ducts go right through the ve­hi­cle to the third-row seat­ing at the back, which meant hav­ing to re-route them to en­sure they fin­ished at the back of the sec­ond row – and still worked as de­signed. The next is­sue was the Pa­trol’s airbags, which meant de­sign­ing a bracket that would re­tain the side-pil­lar airbag. On top of these two is­sues the re-wiring took a bit of time to fig­ure out, again to en­sure the ve­hi­cle would meet ADR and safety reg­u­la­tions af­ter hav­ing its back half re­moved. Try­ing to ‘trick’ the en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem was a chal­lenge, ac­cord­ing to An­drew, with the ve­hi­cle still ‘look­ing’ for the tail­gate, as one ex­am­ple. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, the ac­tual cut­ting of the ve­hi­cle was straight­for­ward, with Les re­mov­ing the back sec­tion and weld­ing the ute-back onto the body and fin­ish­ing all the fab­ri­ca­tion work – a top-notch job that Peter raves about in terms of the qual­ity of the work.

OUT THE BACK

UPON the re­turn of the now cut-down Pa­trol to On Track 4X4 HQ, the big Nis­san was re-painted be­fore An­drew got stuck into the rewiring and re-fit­ting of the in­te­rior. Peter de­cided to also fully re­wire the Pa­trol so as to ac­com­mo­date all the power-re­liant ac­ces­sories that were to be fit­ted. This en­tailed fit­ment of a Redarc dual-bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem and some tricky po­si­tion­ing of two aux­il­iary bat­ter­ies (on top of the small aux­il­iary fit­ted in the crowded en­gine bay) in the pow­der-coated tray. The tray also in­cludes a slide-out drawer at the rear for stor­age.

“With the Y62 there is not a lot of room for aux­il­iary bat­ter­ies un­der the bon­net, so I have a small one,” Peter ex­plains. “I had the tray de­signed with a false floor in the bot­tom that went un­der­neath the tray to hold two ex­tra bat­ter­ies and a dual air com­pres­sor. I also had a [80L] wa­ter tank built into the head board.”

It is this use of all avail­able space that ad­heres to Peter’s idea of cre­at­ing a ve­hi­cle that could do dou­ble- or triple-duty, with the canopy

“IT OUTPERFORMS EVERY­THING I’VE EVER HAD. IT’S AMAZ­ING OFF ROAD”

a key com­po­nent in mak­ing that work. The canopy was built by Will from WF Fabri­ca­tions in Bendigo.

“He [Will] and I de­signed it,” Peter says. “He built it to the specs I wanted and had a few ideas that were good, so we just worked to­gether and said this is how I want it. He said ‘how about this’, so we ba­si­cally built it over a few months as I was in no rush.”

The canopy fea­tures a sep­a­rate dog cage, along with an­other stor­age box (hous­ing the ever-present 60L Engel fridge/ freezer on a Clear View Easy Slide, as well as of­fer­ing ad­di­tional stor­age space), and a dual spare-wheel car­rier setup, al­low­ing the flex­i­bil­ity of use that Peter was af­ter. The canopy is all-alu­minium in con­struc­tion, so doesn’t add ex­ces­sive weight to the tray – and it’s easy to re­move.

“You can just slide it off onto a bench,” Peter reck­ons. “I have a roller bench I slide it onto. It prob­a­bly takes no more than five min­utes to take it off. To put it back on takes about the same – it all just bolts back on and it is ready to go again.”

THE SUM OF EVERY­THING

IT’S HARD to draw the eye away from the im­mac­u­late fin­ish of the metal-work on this Pa­trol, but there are plenty of schmick tour­ing mods fit­ted. The front end of the Nis­san fea­tures ARB bar-work, (front winch bar with Warn winch, side-rails and side steps), as well as an ARB In­ten­sity light set-up (spot­ties and light bar). A TJM Airtec snorkel keeps the V8 (fit­ted with a Unichip) breath­ing freely, while beefy Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 315/70R17 rub­ber roll on Black Rock Crawler 17x8 steel rims.

En­sur­ing the Y62 walks the talk of­froad, Peter has lifted the Pa­trol by two inches and fit­ted ARB’S BP51 re­motereser­voir shocks (along with Airbag Man airbags in the rear), which have taken this ex­pe­ri­enced owner some get­ting used to.

“They take a lit­tle bit to get right I have no­ticed,” Peter says. “But I race ve­hi­cles as well, so I am used to King shocks of­froad that are un­be­liev­able and a lot more tune­able than the BP-51. But, once I have the set­tings right, the BP-51S seem re­ally

“I’VE HAD HEAPS OF VE­HI­CLES TOYOTAS, LOADS OF OTHER NISSANS BUT, TO BE HON­EST, THERE’S NOTH­ING ELSE THAT COM­PARES TO IT”

good off-road and soak up the bumps well.”

Un­der­neath the tray Peter has fit­ted a 150L Long Ranger fuel tank to up the Pa­trol’s to­tal fuel ca­pac­ity to a lofty 290 litres. And he’s done this for good rea­son.

“It’s heavy on fuel,” he says rue­fully. “If you sit on 100-105km/h it is re­ally good – you prob­a­bly get about 22L/100 – but any­thing around 110km/h and you are up around 26L/100...”

Yep, that is high, but it’s worth tak­ing into ac­count the fact Peter is run­ning a larger tyre un­der­neath a ve­hi­cle that, when you add a roof-rack and the weight of gear to the ve­hi­cle’s base weight, is a hefty off-roader to pro­pel along the tracks.

“It would be nice if it was ac­tu­ally a bit bet­ter on fuel. Hav­ing said that, the price you can buy them for com­pared to a Land Cruiser, it can be up to a $30K dif­fer­ence [de­pend­ing on model], so that’s a lot of fuel.” Plus he gets to lis­ten to the sweet growl of that 5.6-litre V8 through the 2.5inch cus­tom ex­haust sys­tem.

A MORE THAN HAPPY RE­SULT

THE BUILD for this unique bush tourer took around six months, with some ad­di­tional time taken up with some fi­nal tweak­ing to the tray and canopy setup. Since then, the dual-cab Y62 has seen plenty of use, with Peter stoked with its over­all per­for­mance.

“I am ab­so­lutely rapt with it,” he says. “I just went away for the week­end [at the time of writ­ing] in it and it just outperforms any­thing I have ever had. It is just an amaz­ing ve­hi­cle off-road; it has heaps of power. On the dirt, it’s just un­be­liev­able how good it is. It just soaks up bumps and any­thing else ... I’ve had heaps of ve­hi­cles – Toyotas, loads of other Nissans – but to be hon­est there’s noth­ing else that re­ally com­pares to it.”

Even al­low­ing for how stoked he is with the fin­ished prod­uct, Peter still re­mem­bers that cre­at­ing the first Y62 Pa­trol dual-cab, and one that looks like some­thing that has just rolled out of a fac­tory, meant a hell of a lot of work and time for him­self, An­drew, Les, Will and all the oth­ers in­volved.

“Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand with a con­ver­sion it’s not straight­for­ward,” he laughs. “You’re not like these big man­u­fac­tur­ers who pay engi­neers to sit on it all day and work out the prob­lems; you’ve just got to hook in and do it your­self. Once you hit a prob­lem, rather than jump­ing up and down ... you’re bet­ter off just think­ing ‘Okay, what are we go­ing to do about it and what have we got to do’. Once you get your head around that’s the way it is, you’re laugh­ing.”

And Peter can laugh; with good rea­son. Build­ing a dual-cab Y62 Pa­trol – his idea of the per­fect all-rounder – and be­ing an in­te­gral part of that process, we reckon it’ll take years to wipe the huge smile off his face. He’s a lucky guy.

Keep­ing an eye on every­thing is the Redarc dual-bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem, lo­cated in the cabin.

Handy canopy has space for a fridge, spare tyres and a dog.

Build­ing the first Y62 dual-cab war­rants the apt num­ber plates.

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