DON’T CALL 111
INSANE SCHOOL PROJECT
When you think back a (fair) few years to your school days, you’ll recall that when you saw an ambulance at school, it was never good. It meant a playground stunt had gone wrong, there was blood flowing, and someone’s parents were about to get that dreaded call from the principal to meet the ambo at the local doctor’s surgery.
But when students from WIZ MMF, an automotive training centre in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan, mixed the two together, the outcome was more constructive than destructive — in the form of a wild custom Nissan Caravan like nothing you’ve seen before.
Mind you, if you’ve heard of WIZ and some of its past projects, that will come as no surprise. Over the past 10 years, the school’s senior class has built some pretty impressive machines for their final project, builds that have stunned crowds at Tokyo Auto Salons. From hybrid-powered Datsun 1200s to roof-chopped electric VWs, a drag-spec Prius, and a wild MX-5 hot-rod roadster — it’s fair to say that the school’s marketing plan looks like a page ripped straight from a script of Monster Garage. It’s one hell of a way to put a school on the map, and it must be exciting to finally reach your senior year and get to go nuts on a project.
WHAT’S THE COOLEST PROJECT YOU DID AT UNI? WE GUARANTEE IT’S GOT NOTHING ON WHAT THE 2016 GRADUATING CLASS AT WIZ HAS BEEN UP TO — INTRODUCING THE ‘DANGER AMBULANCE’
For 2016, the graduating class of eight students picked a 1988 Caravan as their victim. Why? We don’t know, but the result suggests that this class sampled some mind-altering substances on concept day. Of all the projects to come out of the school thus far, the Caravan is by far the wackiest. It boasts a stretched wheelbase with a 10-inch roof chop and rocks a fullblown ambulance theme — yeah, it’s fair to say practicality was never part of the design brief. But look beyond the cartoonish aesthetic and you will uncover a proper custom build. The students at WIZ never muck around. After all, this is a showcase of their talents. So long gone are any of the van’s commercialgrade underpinnings, as a custom chassis and flat floor take their place.
The set-up is a hybrid mix of that custom chassis with S14 subframes front and rear, with S14 AirREX air struts mounted on tubular supports. The wheel tubs were left exposed front and rear to show off the suspension and the tyres — perhaps this was the inspiration for the name ‘Danger Ambulance’.
Further living up to that name is the engine, an SR20DET also from an S14, which sits proudly exposed in the rear cabin, right where your head would be if you were strapped to the custom gurney (wheeled stretcher). The location of the engine allows maximum headspace up front — though anyone even close to six feet tall need not apply. The engine itself remains in its factory form and is backed by an auto — an indication that this is not meant to go fast — though, looking at that driving position, that’s probably a good thing.
The copper electroplating that features on the engine is carried through to the exterior, with copper-coated bumpers. Surprisingly, the rest of the body remains stock, though the fact that the subframes were swapped did mean the wheel choice was a lot bigger than would have been on the old commercial six-stud.
The crew called on Work Wheels, one of the school’s many supporters, with the sort of close relationship that makes projects like this possible, and a set of custom Work Seeker NXs was decided on. They have now been discontinued by Work, so the van will maintain a real point of difference — not that it needed any help in this department.
The team of eight students and two teachers did an amazing job when you consider the range of work displayed by this project, which is most evident in the interior. In the back, a faux workbench serves as storage for the AirREX system, Jaz fuel cell, and dual batteries. However, the star of the show has to be the custom gurney, complete with kart wheels and tyres.
It might not be the most practical vehicle ever built — but those really worried about the custom scene in Japan can surely breathe a sigh of relief that cars as wacky as this are being built by the next generation of car builders. Mind you, we guess that more than a few of you reading this will feel a little green eyed that these students get to build such amazing stuff for school. Exchange programme, anyone?
Like all the projects before it, the Danger Ambulance bears the names of the classmates who built it
SHOES WHEELS: (F) 18x8-inch (-4) Work Seeker NX, transparent grey polished centre and bronze lip; (R) 18x9.5-inch (+25) Work Seeker NX, transparent grey polished centre and bronze lip TYRES: (F) 215/40R18 Luccini Buono Sport, (R) 225/40R18 Luccini Buono Sport
DRIVELINE GEARBOX: Factory auto DIFF: Factory S14 limited-slip SUPPORT STRUTS: S14 AirREX BRAKES: Factory S14 EXTRA: S14 crossmembers, relocated suspension pickup points
We’re not sure if this is the type of vehicle you’d like to drive in the wet. The exposed wheel arches would make a hell of a mess of the custom upholstery
INTERIOR SEATS: Reupholstered and reshaped bucket seats STEERING WHEEL: Reupholstered INSTRUMENTATION: Auto Gauge boost, water-temp, and oil-pressure gauges EXTRA: Leather upholstery, custom gurney, push-button start