4WD PARTS & SERVICE
The more you look at keen Christchurch 4WDer Nigel Collings’ late model Mitsubishi Pajero the more you see. NZ4WD magazine Editor Ross MacKay has the story.
We’ve all heard ( indeed, many of us have at times tried to live by) the old adage, ‘ do it once, do it right.’ All too often, however, ‘ life’ gets in the way. For most of us the problems start early. We either start with the wrong vehicle then proceed to throw money at it in the mistaken belief we can somehow make it ‘right.’ Or run out of money/ time/ inspiration at the final hurdle. Which is, of course, all part of life’s rich tapestry. What if you’re not like that though? What if you have a natural aversion to doing anything half-cocked, a burning desire to... ‘ do things once and do them right,’ using genuine parts, and the determination and wherewithal to see any project through to its natural conclusion? What, for instance, if you were the owners of this immaculate and absolutely beautifully detailed and prepared SWB Mitsubishi Pajero; Nigel & Marie Colling. “Nigel came to us,” says the man behind the build, Scott Newble of Opposite Lock NZ in Christchurch,” and said he wanted to – I suppose the best way of putting it is – ‘ future-proof’ his truck so that it was always ‘ fit for purpose’. “You don’t see many late model SWB ones like theirs and though, obviously, it is a fairly capable vehicle in standard trim, Nigel and Marie love getting out into the High Country down here, often for days at a time, so my job if you like was to make it even better suited to that task.” To understand what a thorough job Scott has done, through careful planning, you only have to stand in front of, or beside the Pajero when Nigel has set up camp. To get a better picture of the build as a whole, however, we’ll start with it as it left the Opposite Lock workshop. ‘Subtle’ is probably the best word to describe the end result, despite a degree of modification and/or personalisation right up there with the ‘no stone left unturned’ approach usually only the preserve of ‘shop-builds’ in the US and Aussie mags. Every component on this Pajero,
affectionately known as “Jero”, are genuine parts. Careful detailed research, planning, analysis, and an action plan that provided for a savings programme to pay for the work, has allowed this work of art to be completed the right way, by doing it right the first time. Starting at the front, an ECB Bull Bar ( purpose-built for the current NS model Pajero) replaces the standard ABS bumper. Tucked in behind it is a KingOne TDS 9.5H winch plus a set of heavy duty recovery points. The ECB bar also provides solid mounting points for a pair of radio aerials, one for Nigel’s Uniden UHF5000 digital UHF radio system, with GME portable hand held UHF radios; and the other an aerial frequency tuner for the huge aerial that goes with his Codan HF Mountain Radio. Nigel has absolutely no problem calling up anywhere in New Zealand or even Australia possibly, from the farthest outback location in the country, where mobiles have long ceased functioning. You can tell that he is serious about his comms by just looking at the ( increased) size of everything leading off from the ceiling console. The ECB Bull Bar is supplemented by extensive body bash plates underneath, plus undersill bash protection for the inner panels which – handily – doubles as a central jacking point. The accent on protecting the key mechanicals and body parts from damage continues through to the back of the vehicle which features a set of rear recovery points, heavy-duty tow/recovery bar plus a detachable KingOne TDS 9.5H rear winch, which has incidentally, proven itself to be an invaluable addition in the back country. There is also, obviously, heavy duty power supply hard wired in, both for the trailer hitch and rear winch, and ( not so
obviously but it is there if your look) for a rear-mounted work light and additional reversing light linked to reverse in the auto trans, for any night time reverse travels in the back country, where it is always helpful to see what one is reversing into or attempting not to! Yes, the Pajero has been lif ted ( 50mm) though the 17-inch diameter alloy wheels and Mickey Thompson ATZ Baja tyres tend to disguise the fact. As well as all the protection equipment, Scott has also paid particular attention to making sure the mechanicals remain in tip top condition no matter where Nigel ventures. Nigel is fastidious in maintenance of his Jero, so it is cleaned and serviced after every hard trip and so is regularly called the “shiney”. To assist on monitoring the transmission side of things, he has fitted a transmission oil cooler ( with temperature gauge inside) and breathers to the diffs, the transmission, transfer case and front winch. We can’t forget the addition of the obligatory genuine Safari Snorkel or for that matter a decent light bar on the leading edge the roof rack. Because room to carry and/ or store things inside any SWB 4x4 is always going to limit what you can take with you, Nigel and Scott have used every trick in the book to optimise what space there is inside and outside the Pajero. In what was the rear hatch and rear seat space there are now both drawer and shelving systems complete with lockable compartments and safety cargo barrier. And on the roof is now a Rhino Rack roof rack, a tube for Nigel’s fishing rods, and a Rhino Rack fox wing awning. In addition, the roof rack also carries a shovel carrier with steel shovel, TRED’s recovery solution, and a hi-lift jack with ground pad. The Rhino Rack fox wing awning ( and with it ground blanket, sides, poles, guy ropes and pins) provides a particularly elegant solution to the challenge of overnighting in the back blocks. If it is high summer it can act as a simple sun shade while you live and even sleep al fresco, while when the days get shorter and nights longer, you can keep the barnstyle rear door ( side opening) open yet batten down the hatches ( as it were) and use the compact tent space to both live and sleep in. Speaking of which, wherever he goes in it, Nigel’s Pajero is probably one of the best/ most ‘connected’ 4x4s our sometimes inhospitable back country has ever seen. This is one very capable vehicle, just suited to our back country whether it be for back country touring or helping in civil emergencies or search and rescue, as a communications radio relay point via the mountain radio system or for a fishing or hunting trip up some far-flung river valley. Travel in the back country is about being genuinely respectful of land owners interests, so Nigel ensures a lot of care and attention to their hospitality of allowing one across their land in the first place is absolutely treated with the respect and gratitude it deserves. Starting with a programmable solid-state isolator dual battery system under the bonnet and a 1,000 watt inverter inside the cabin, the system Scott has come up with provides a power supply that not only supports the winches and other on-board electronic wizardry, plus multiple USB and cigarette lighter-type power points throughout the cabin ( front and back) to cater for the huge power demands. By significantly boosting battery power Scott has been able to provide more than enough fire power for an in-car dash cam, GPS Mapping system, both UHF and HF ( Mountain) radio systems, an on-board Opposite Lock refrigerator/ freezer, and to keep Nigel’s mobile phone charged! An option exists for a ceiling mounted drop down coach TV to replay video footage from either the in-vehicle camera or hand held cameras of the days travels, if required. Let’s not forget about using the inverter to make that fresh coffee in the morning, cook up some toast in the 800W toaster or the small 600W 12v electric frypan that makes bacon and eggs in the morning a real doddle!! Sure it has cost him a pretty penny but by ‘ doing it once, and doing it right,’ Nigel has got exactly what he wanted and how he wanted and – in theory anyway – doesn’t have to spend a dollar more! It’s not about throwing money at this project as every action has been carefully planned and orchestrated, thanks to Scott’s expert knowledge and guiding wisdom. The good news for the rest of us is that Nigel’s Pajero was specced and built by Scott Newble at Opposite Lock, 47 Shakespeare Rd, Christchurch ( www. oppositelock.nz). Everything in it is available, all you have to do is get in touch and say, ‘ Mate, that was one hell of a Pajero build in the latest NZ4WD mag. How can you help me do something similar to my truck?”
From this… pre-makeover shot of Pajero in the snow.
In use… at Red Hut, South Canterbury.