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2018 Custom 4x4 of the Year finalist: Isuzu D-Max

By Dan Everett, 25 Nov 2018 4x4OTY

2018 Custom 4x4 of the Year finalist Isuzu D-Max feature

Immaculate mods on this fit-for purpose adventure rig.

WHILE Jordan’s immaculate Isuzu D-Max might be a one of a kind, its story is one that we are all familiar with. As an apprentice chippy Jordan spent years longing for a 4x4, a key to unlocking the countless adventures to be had far beyond city lights, and one he always felt out of reach of his modest earnings. Fast forward a few years and Jordan finished his trade and shifted his focus to building the 4x4 he’d been lusting for.

It’s fitting then that he chose Isuzu’s D-Max as the foundation, a history of hard work forged directly into an adventure machine, much like Jordan himself. The facelifted D-Max sports Isuzu’s venerable 4JJ1 under the bonnet, a 3.0L turbo-charged diesel engine, which Jordan has kept relatively stock; a DPU performance module courtesy of Down Under Diesel Tuning tweaks the engine for more grunt. It howls through a Safari snorkel, while an HPD catch can and Munji solid intercooler pipes add ticks to the reliability column.

2018 Custom 4x4 of the Year: The finalists

The smooth canopy is a trick unit zapped together by the crew at Tough Tinnies. While it looks heavier built than a Russian babushka, the whole unit is easily removed with the unfortunately named Jackoff system. A few clasps popped and a set of legs slid in, and the D-Max is free to roam the tracks while his home on the road is safe and sound back at camp.

Jordan’s been through a few tray setups and canopy fitouts, so he knew exactly what he was after with the Tough Tinnies setup, and he also settled on a Darche Hi-View rooftop tent for a comfy kip. He’s paired it with an Eclipse roll-out awning to give plenty of shelter against inclement weather.

Opening up the canopy doors is like letting a kid loose in a candy store, if the kid is a 4WDer, and the candy store is the best electronics gear on the market. The legs of the setup is a Betta Batteries lead-crystal battery, but the brains is a comprehensive Redarc system headed up with a Manager30.

This setup handles anything Jordan can throw its way, coping with a combination of 240V, 12V and solar inputs, then optimally charging whatever batteries Jordan’s running at the time. It feeds a bank of Narva products and power outlets, but the ‘pride of the fleet’ for Jordan is the huge Redarc 1500W Pure Sine Wave invertor.

The rest of the canopy is a perfect mesh of form and function. Three individual drawers inside the main body provide plenty of room, while the passenger’s side houses a hidden prep bench under the drawer and a Dometic fridge on a Clearview drop-slide. There are LEDs throughout, with additional storage along both flanks and a handy trundle drawer in the rear.

Custom 4x4: Read our full feature on Jordan's custom D-Max

While the rear of Jordan’s D-Max is a no-holds-barred kind of affair, up front things are a little more understated. Two huge screens dominate the cockpit. Up-top a Hema HN7 keeps him on the right path, while a Kenwood double DIN unit adds a little Xzibit style pimpin’.

On the practical front are twin AutoMeter gauges keeping a watchful eye on boost levels and exhaust gas temperatures, with a plethora of rocker switches to activate everything from the canopy lights to North Korea’s guided missile program.

READ NEXT: Isuzu D-MAX Range Review

On the outside Jordan struck gold somewhere between a hardcore weekender and a kilometre-proven tourer, never scared to lift a wheel or pull-up to camp. The Xrox bar leads the way, with a Warn winch slotting in behind the Factor 55 fairlead and flat link.

Bushskinz bash plates protect the radiator, front diff and engine sump, while South Cross Fabrication rock sliders keep wayward rocks from stoving in both flanks. Up top a Rhino-Rack platform mounts the LED light bar and MaxTrax, as well as providing additional storage.

The suspension is a mix and match of DIY components to get the required clearance for the 285/75R16 Nitto Trail Grapplers, but a set of King 2.5 shocks is going in shortly to make things ride a whole lot smoother.

Drive is put to the ground at both ends through a set of Harrop eLockers, sending drive to every wheel, while the front hubs are a direct bolt-on from a 1992 Jackaroo and help stop the CVs spinning when not in 4x4. 

In an age of instant gratification, it’s refreshing to see not only the drive required to build something right, but the finished product itself.


Check out the Top ten finalists of the 2018 Custom 4x4 of the Year, cast your vote and be in the running to win a Maxxis voucher valued at up to $2000!