It’s not of­ten a trades­man turns his beloved work­horse into a sin­gle-dig­it­ca­pable drag mon­ster. But if you’ve at­tended a drag-rac­ing event in the last six years, or a V 4&Ro­tary Na­tion­als show, you will have seen Chris An­der­son’s ute mak­ing its way down the drag strip, or do­ing the rounds on the dyno.

Chris pur­chased what he thought would be the next re­li­able work ute for his busi­ness, An­der­son Con­struc­tion, seven-and-a-half years ago, but af­ter 18 months of own­er­ship the trusty 1993 Ford Courier was hav­ing a few en­gine prob­lems, as Chris ex­plained. “One morn­ing the Courier didn’t start, so I de­cided to pull the en­gine, which was in se­ri­ous need of an up­date.” He con­tin­ued, “I made the de­ci­sion to go with the well-known Toy­ota 1UZ-FE en­gine, which is known for Toy­ota re­li­a­bil­ity and easy power.” Af­ter a few months of driv­ing the re­pow­ered Courier, Chris was ex­tremely happy with how his ute was run­ning, but the per­for­mance bug had bit­ten and the fac­tory per­for­mance was not enough (yes, it was still a work­horse), and this is where fa­mous Kiwi tun­ing house STM en­tered the story. “I met with An­dre Simon and Chris Wall from STM to dis­cuss the op­tions I had for the 1UZ-FE en­gine. We de­cided to go with an af­ter­mar­ket header, cold-air in­take and ECU, but un­for­tu­nately for my bank ac­count, things snow­balled from there,” Chris told us.

Drag rac­ing is a cruel beast; it seems the more you com­pete and take part, the more it yearns for your hard- earned cash. The ad­dic­tion to shav­ing off those pre­cious mil­lisec­onds and the for­ever-chang­ing end goals are hard to beat, and Chris knows this all too well af­ter tak­ing the ute to the strip for the first time. The Courier was fairly com­pet­i­tive as it was, run­ning in the 14s, and the solid 1UZ was only just start­ing its rac­ing ca­reer, as Chris ex­plained. “With the ad­dic­tion to drag-rac­ing grow­ing, I de­cided to talk to STM again to plan the next power up­grades, which would in­clude a 74kW (100hp) shot of ni­trous. This saw times dip into the 12s and power lev­els reach 350kW (469hp), but af­ter adding a set of ITB’s and in­creas­ing the ni­trous shot to the larger noz­zle in the hope for more, the fac­tory pis­tons gave way.” At this stage Chris was ut­terly com­mit­ted, so he de­cided to take the ute off the road and rip the leaf springs out, re­plac­ing them with a lad­der-bar set to keep the ute go­ing in a straight line, and fit­ting a four-point roll cage. The Courier was sent back to STM for a cus­tom set of forged JE pis­tons to lift the com­pres­sion from 10.4:1 to 12.5:1, plus Ea­gle rods, di­rect-port ni­trous in­jec­tion and a re­tune, which yielded an im­pres­sive 400kW at the wheels with ni­trous. The new­found power and re­li­a­bil­ity landed Chris a per­sonal best of 10.48 sec­onds at 217kph (135mph) — with sin­gle dig­its in sight, there was no turn­ing back for this Courier.

The set-up ran re­li­ably for some time, the fac­tory R154 never gave up the ghost, and the clutch re­mained in­tact for the full six years of the car’s dra­grac­ing du­ties. In­deed it was only re­cently that the 1UZ-FE started to cause some se­ri­ous may­hem to the rest of the ve­hi­cle. With ev­ery sec­ond you seek that’s lower than your cur­rent PB, the money, time, and ef­fort needed to get there seems to triple, and with an eight-sec­ond pass now the goal, it was time for Chris to make a se­ri­ous in­vest­ment in the ute. “An­other meet­ing was made with An­dre and Mike Sin­clair from Sinco Cus­toms to dis­cuss the next phase, tur­bocharg­ing the 1UZ. I’ve al­ways wanted to go turbo, and I should have done it sooner. The power is eas­ier and the run­ning costs are much less, as the amount of ni­trous we were us­ing was start­ing to get ex­pen­sive. We came to the con­clu­sion the forged in­ter­nals would be up to the task to han­dle the power lev­els we wanted, but

With the use of methanol to cool in­take temps, STM spun the ute up on the dyno, and on only 10psi of boost the newly tur­boed 1UZ made 558kW ( 748hp) at the wheels, an ex­tremely im­pres­sive num­ber for such low boost

de­cided the fuel sys­tem would need some se­ri­ous work,” Chris ex­plained. Mike set to work on fab­ri­cat­ing the man­i­folds, dump pipes, in­take pip­ing and ev­ery­thing else re­quired to com­plete the plumb­ing to the twin colos­sal Gar­rett GT35/82R tur­bos, with their .82 tur­bine hous­ings. Chris and the team got onto com­plet­ing the much-needed new fuel sys­tem, which would in­clude 10 of his cho­sen 1000cc in­jec­tors, two cus­tom fuel rails, two Aero­mo­tive Pro Se­ries reg­u­la­tors and a fuel cell. Once the fab­ri­ca­tion, turbo set-up, wiring, and fuel sys­tem were com­pleted, the car was sent down to STM to string it all to­gether and get the fi­nal tune. With the use of methanol to cool in­take temps, STM spun the ute up on the dyno, and on only 10psi of boost the newly tur­boed 1UZ made 558kW (748hp) at the wheels, an ex­tremely im­pres­sive num­ber for such low boost. It was de­cided to keep the boost low to pre­vent dam­age to the driv­e­line on its first out­ing.

All in­volved with the build were ec­static, and ready to see what times the new power would get them. The Courier was trail­ered down to the Master­ton Mo­tor­plex to make its de­but, un­loaded and warmed up. It com­pleted a burnout to warm the tyres, then cut loose down the strip, but un­for­tu­nately the new-found torque pro­duced from the twin tur­bos was too much for the six-year-old clutch. As soon as boost came on, the clutch slipped and the en­gine cracked against the rev-lim­iter. Even so, a 12-sec­ond pass was achieved — the Courier was go­ing to be fast.

The team called it a day in prepa­ra­tion for the next out­ing, they were happy with how the en­gine was run­ning, and Chris or­dered the new clutch al­most im­me­di­ately. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

With the new clutch in­stalled a few weeks later, Chris and the team loaded the ute back up and made their way to Master­ton, for what they didn’t yet know would be their last time that sea­son. “The car was per­form­ing very well, it did a great burnout and we were ready to go. Un­for­tu­nately, the brand-new race clutch wasn’t up to the task … the pres­sure plate ex­ploded first, dam­ag­ing the bell hous­ing, the fly­wheel, block and in­put shaft on the gear­box. The pro­jec­tile soon made its way out of the gear­box, cut­ting the wiring loom in two, dam­ag­ing the main fuel lines and catch cans, fi­nally end­ing its fu­ri­ous rage with the panel and paint. We were dis­s­a­pointed af­ter ev­ery­ones huge ef­fort in the off-seaon,” Chris told us.

With the fail­ure of a sup­posed race-built com­po­nent came the end of Chris’ drag-rac­ing sea­son for the year.

The Courier was out of ac­tion, but the team was far from de­feated. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, the ute was pulled apart in prepa­ra­tion for a much big­ger sea­son next time around. When you see Chris’ Ford Courier down at the drags again, ex­pect to see a few 100 more kW at the wheels, an air-shifted Lenco four-speed trans­mis­sion, and sin­gle-digit passes. It’s def­i­nitely not over for Chris, the team, and their trusty work­horse.



Chris has been run­ning the R154 gear­box be­hind the 1UZ-FE en­gine for com­ing on six years, and it wasn’t un­til the ad­di­tion of the two Gar­rett GT3582R tur­bos that it de­stroyed the clutch, gear­box, block and much more

Have you ever won­dered how a ute with a light­weight rear end hooks up so well off the line? The mas­sive 28 by nine Mickey Thomp­sons were cho­sen for their out­right grip and con­sis­tency —

they’re one of the best drag tyres avail­able to the mar­ket. The rear leaf-spring set-up was re­moved, and re­placed with a cus­tom lad­der-bar to keep the ute go­ing in a straight line

“A brak­ing parachute pro­duced by a rec­og­nized drag-rac­ing parachute man­u­fac­turer re­quired on all cars ex­ceed­ing 150mph (130mph [209kph] if only two-wheel braked)” — taken from the NZDRA rule book. It’s safe to say the Stroud parachute mounted to the back of Chris’ ute isn’t just there for looks

With the 1UZ-FE en­gine barely tap­ping its po­ten­tial with th­ese tur­bocharg­ers, the wick will be turned up once the air-shifted Lenco trans­mis­sion is in­stalled. How­ever, if Chris has his way dur­ing the off sea­son, the block will be pulled apart and a new set of lower-com­pres­sion pis­tons will be in­stalled to al­low much more boost than they had orig­i­nally planned. With the ex­tra boost and the new pis­tons, Chris reck­ons power will in­crease a few 100 kW

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