WACKY WHEELS

Af­ter tragedy struck, Hen­nie Prinsloo from Pre­to­ria dealt with his trauma by tak­ing on an am­bi­tious project: re­design­ing the nose of his Mercedes-Benz Gelän­dewa­gen.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Edited by Kyle Kock Pho­tos Mar­ius Hu­man

My 24-year-old daugh­ter had bat­tled can­cer for 12 years and passed away in Septem­ber 2011. My wife couldn’t bear the heart­break and suc­cumbed al­most ex­actly a year later. I was emo­tion­ally shat­tered, and to keep my mind off every­thing I de­cided to tackle a mas­sive au­to­mo­tive project. One night, look­ing at my MercedesBenz, I de­cided that I wanted to change the front end – give it a dra­matic over­haul. Given my back­ground as an air­craft tech­ni­cian and as an en­gi­neer at Saf­ma­rine, I was cer­tain I could do al­most all of the work my­self. I started pulling the nose apart and shap­ing it. I would sculpt a new nose and then de­cide it was not what I had in mind. So I started at the be­gin­ning nu­mer­ous times. Truth be told, over the course of four years there were stages I thought it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble. And right from the start peo­ple warned me that putting a rounded nose on a square body wouldn’t work. But I con­tin­ued to sit in front of the Merc for hours, mould­ing a new front end us­ing clay, metal hang­ers and even wood. Two years in I really thought I had taken on too much and was ready to give up. Af­ter about a three-month break, I gave the project an­other go with re­newed vigour. While brows­ing the in­ter­net one night I came across an ad­ver­tise­ment for Bul­let, an Aus­tralian af­ter­mar­ket com­pany that spe­cialises in build­ing bolton su­per­charg­ers specif­i­cally for cer­tain en­gines. I de­cided then and there that while I was re­con­struct­ing the G-Class’s nose, I might as well also go full bore and do a su­per­charged Lexus V8 con­ver­sion as well. The re­sult is 340 kW and 580 Nm. It still has the diff locks and is still a fully func­tional 4x4 with air con and all the stan­dard lux­u­ries. It’s to be ex­pected that a ve­hi­cle with this sort of con­ver­sion is a bit thirsty, but mine av­er­ages about 16 ℓ/100 km, which is very rea­son­able when you con­sider the amount of power avail­able. In the end, I did need help. The leather straps that keep the bon­net down were cre­ated by one of the lo­cal leather shops in Pre­to­ria, and the wooden panel trim along the pro­file was also shaped by one of my friends. The project took me four years, and as far as I know it’s the only one in the world that looks like this. go! Drive & Camp says The unique work is ev­i­dently quite pop­u­lar as Hen­nie gets pulled off the road­side of­ten by in­quis­i­tive peo­ple wanting to take pic­tures of it.

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