CUS­TOM: NIS­SAN PA­TROL DURAMAX V8

WANT TO BUILD A NO-NON­SENSE, UBERTOUGH TOURER? THEN SHOEHORN A MON­STER 6.6-LITRE DURAMAX TDV8 INTO THE EN­GINE BAY OF A PA­TROL UTE.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS JUSTIN WALKER PHO­TOS NICK HEIDT

THE MOD­I­FIED 4X4 BE­LIES ITS SUB­TLE, UN­DER­STATED EX­TE­RIOR BY OF­FER­ING IN­CRED­I­BLE PER­FOR­MANCE

WHY OVERCOMPLICATE mat­ters when the sim­ple ap­proach of­ten works best, as this trick GU Pa­trol proves. Owner Todd Bon­nard wanted a 4x4 ute that was, in his words, “the per­fect all-rounder”, so when this half-fin­ished pro­ject ve­hi­cle, com­plete with trans­planted Duramax 6.6-litre V8 turbo-diesel and six-speed auto, came up for sale, Todd jumped on it. As a long-term GU Pa­trol fan – the other rig in his garage is a 4.2TD wagon – it was an easy de­ci­sion to make. The mod­i­fied 4x4 be­lies its sub­tle, un­der­stated ex­te­rior by of­fer­ing in­cred­i­ble on-road per­for­mance; plus, it’s nigh-un­stop­pable in the rough stuff. And it all starts with that bloody big en­gine.

EN­LARGED HEART

IT’S A STRAIGHT­FOR­WARD an­swer when Todd is asked about the ap­peal of the Duramax nes­tled in­side the Pa­trol’s en­gine bay. “Def­i­nitely the power,” he en­thuses. “And in terms of what you can do with them to ex­tract more power. They’re push­ing pretty big power over in the US in those big utes and rigs there, so you can imag­ine what it is go­ing to do in a smaller Pa­trol – the power-to-weight ra­tio is much bet­ter.”

As with any en­gine/gear­box trans­plant, it’s no easy task, re­quir­ing a few mods to the en­gine bay to en­sure proper fit­ment (a cut and plated fire­wall, for one), along with nu­mer­ous add-ons, to make it run smoothly with the rest of the big Nis­san’s driv­e­train while punch­ing out co­pi­ous grunt.

The Al­li­son six-speed auto is mated to the Nis­san trans­fer case via an adap­tor, while en­gine man­age­ment is through an Edge In­sight CTS2 sys­tem (with in-cabin scan­ner/ mon­i­tor). There’s a cus­tom-made ARE Cool­ing ra­di­a­tor and front-mount in­ter­cooler fit­ted, and the trans­mis­sion cooler has been moved be­neath the tray with an ad­di­tional fan to aid cool­ing. In­duc­tion is taken care of with a Pa­troldocta four-inch snorkel and air­box, and three-inch hot-and-cold side pip­ing. Push­ing it all out the back is a four-inch cus­tom-made (from scratch!) titanium ex­haust with a 100 cell cat­alytic con­verter. The Pa­trol’s donk now punches out 335kw and 1200Nm (it was dyno’d at PID Diesel Con­ver­sions) at the rear wheels that, rather un­sur­pris­ingly, adds up to a ve­hi­cle that Todd says non­cha­lantly, “does

pull pretty hard”. Smartly, Todd had a hy­dro booster fit­ted to the brakes.

OVER AND ABOVE

ADDING that huge V8 diesel clearly en­hances the ve­hi­cle, but it’s not the only trick to this rig. The Pa­trol’s commonsense sus­pen­sion com­prises of a three-inch sus­pen­sion lift and a two-inch body lift, which en­sures the Pa­trol’s un­der­belly is well clear of terra firma. If the near-im­pos­si­ble does hap­pen and the belly touches the ground, the cus­tom rock slid­ers keep it all well pro­tected.

Boost­ing ride and han­dling is a set of Amadax­treme re­mote-reser­voir dampers, front and rear. Todd ini­tially had a prob­lem with the front-end units leak­ing oil, but it was a quick fix, with Todd fit­ting new seals and O-rings and en­joy­ing re­li­able per­for­mance since. Todd also changed the front springs, cit­ing the coils that came with the ve­hi­cle when he bought it as a bit too soft for his lik­ing. He upped the ante and fit­ted cus­tom-made Ped­ders coils, rated to a 500kg con­stant load. Su­pe­rior En­gi­neer­ing Su­per­flex sway bars front and rear tie it all down, along with Su­per En­gi­neer­ing Su­per­flex ra­dius arms, Pan­hard rods and long arms. The Pa­trol now rides firmly (but not un­com­fort­ably) on-road, but has plenty of sus­pen­sion travel and flex for when things get chal­leng­ing off-road.

Rolling stock is a set of tough 17-inch Walker Evans Bead­lock wheels, shod with chunky Mickey Thomp­son Baja MTZ LT315/70R17 rub­ber that, on oc­ca­sion, have been known to emit a chirp or two when Todd puts the foot down to ac­cess that 1200Nm.

THE REAR ISN’T LOCKED, IT’S JUST AN LSD … NIS­SAN LSDS ARE PRETTY GOOD, THEY DON’T NEED A LOCKER

BUSH READY

AS WELL as the top-notch sus­pen­sion setup, Todd’s Pa­trol con­tains more smart choices in­clud­ing fit­ment of an ARB Air Locker diff lock to the front axle (with air sup­plied via an un­der-bon­net com­pres­sor). Per­haps sur­pris­ingly for some, he hasn’t fit­ted a rear locker; al­though, his rea­son­ing is su­per sound.

“The rear isn’t locked, it’s just an LSD,” Todd ex­plains. “That’s the combo I would rather have. The Nis­san LSDS are pretty good; they don’t need a locker. If you fit one, on the road you lose the LSD... it be­comes an open cen­tre, so I would rather keep the LSD for when I am tow­ing.”

The ute tray is a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward setup, al­beit with a slightly wider than usual cage. Ap­par­ently the pre­vi­ous owner had two 80-litre fridge/freez­ers and pre­ferred to run them length­ways so he could fit them both in, but Todd prefers run­ning his fridge across the cage and throw­ing his swag and camp­ing gear in there in­stead. The spare wheel mounts se­curely to the back of it, and Todd reck­ons there’s more than enough stor­age in the cage – as well as on the rest of the tray – to hold all the gear needed for a bush trip.

More sen­si­ble tour­ing mods make their pres­ence felt un­der the tray, with two 40-litre wa­ter tanks fit­ted. A sep­a­rate but no less im­por­tant un­der­body mod is the FASS fuel pump en­sur­ing quick ig­ni­tion and a Facet pump en­sur­ing the juice from the main and sub tanks keeps flow­ing.

WALK­ING QUI­ETLY

WHEN Todd bought the Pa­trol it still needed plenty of work. “It was driv­ing, but it was a bit rough and needed some time spent on it to get it all sorted for en­gi­neer­ing and rego,” he says, with the main is­sue get­ting the wiring sorted so the en­gine/gear­box trans­plant worked per­fectly. Once that was done, it was onto the body it­self, with fit­ment of a heav­ily mod­i­fied Nis­san fac­tory bull­bar (that now looks way tougher than the ‘stan­dard’ unit) to the front end.

Panel work was lim­ited on the Pa­trol, with the most no­tice­able mod be­ing the fit­ment of cus­tom-made Fair­line fi­bre­glass front guards and an air in­take atop the bon­net. With the wider rub­ber the ex­tended guards could have looked over the top, but the styling and shape of these re­tains a sub­tle, un­der-the-radar ex­te­rior ap­pear­ance. A set of Lightforce HID spotties, a GME ra­dio aerial, and a cus­tom-mesh grille com­plete the front-end styling.

Keep­ing the sound of that big V8 donk sub­dued in-cabin is a Ken­wood head unit with six-inch speak­ers and tweet­ers, plus a 10-inch sub and amp set up be­hind the pas­sen­ger and driver seats re­spec­tively. A raft of gauges – boost, EGT and oil pres­sure – keep Todd in­formed of what’s go­ing on un­der the bon­net, while an Ori­com UHF tack­les bush comms du­ties.

A BIG­GER STICK

TODD’S goal with this Nis­san Pa­trol was to make it the per­fect all-rounder and, with thanks to Wild 4x4 & Cus­toms, PJM Auto Electrics, Dave’s Paint & Panel, Pre­ci­sion Paint & Panel and PID Diesel Con­ver­sions, the end re­sult is pretty damn close to that ideal. But, like all off-road en­thu­si­asts, once you start it’s re­ally hard to stop, and he reck­ons there’s still room for more, men­tion­ing his fu­ture plans to “crack the 500hp mark”.

In the mean­time, Todd’s got a few ad­ven­tures planned for the big white rig in­clud­ing an up­com­ing Vic High Coun­try trip and then, per­haps, Cape York. With that grunty en­gine, im­pres­sive sus­pen­sion setup and smart tour­ing mods, we reckon the Pa­trol is a shoe-in for both ad­ven­tures.

Keep­ing the Pa­trol rid­ing high is a three­inch sus­pen­sion lift and a two-inch body lift.

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