Ned Cakovan is a fastidious kind of bloke – one who doesn’t make big decisions without first arming himself with all the available information.
Given this seemingly sensible, level-headed approach, you’re probably wondering what the hell a keen four-wheel driver like Ned is doing driving around in a petrol-powered V8 Y62 Patrol.
“I spent nine months deciding on a vehicle,” Ned says. “I test-drove every dual-cab ute on the market but, being a single dad with two kids, and my girlfriend at the time had two kids, a dual-cab just wouldn’t cut it. I needed something with more seats, so that’s why I looked at wagons.
“Initially I didn’t even consider a Y62 – it was more than $90,000 for the ST-L at the time, the base model, so I didn’t even think of it,” he says. “And, like everyone else, I thought, a V8 petrol … I’m not touching that! So I went looking for a 200 Series GXL diesel.”
Just as he was about to drop $94,000 on an optioned-up 200 Series, Ned saw a Facebook post about a price drop on the Y62 Patrol, which was enough to convince him to at least test drive the big Nissan wagon back-to-back with the Toyota.
“After driving the Y62 it was a no-brainer,” Ned says. “I didn’t care about fuel economy at that stage; the Y62 was that good to drive.”
It’s quite easy to understand that Ned could form such an opinion when you consider the Patrol is powered by a silky-smooth 5.6-litre V8 that pumps out a claimed 298kW and 560Nm, and that its fully independent coil-spring suspension set-up offers car-like levels of on-road ride and handling.
One thing Ned hadn’t taken into account when he bought the Patrol, however, was the lack of aftermarket gear available for the Y62. There were a few bullbars on the market – from ARB, TJM and Opposite Lock – and Kaymar did a rear bar, but that was about it. So Ned set about rectifying the situation by starting the Aussie Patrol Y62 group on Facebook, which now has more than 900 members.
“At the time I fitted an ARB bullbar,” Ned says, “and I put ARB Intensity LEDs on, but that was it – and that’s why I started the Facebook page. There were no steps, no sliders, no brush rails, there were no exhausts and no snorkels. It was very, very limited.”
It wasn’t long before the Facebook group starting flexing its collective muscles and one member was able to garner enough support from group members to convince a snorkel manufacturer to make a plastic snorkel to suit the Y62, hence the Tanami unit fitted to a few of the vehicles in the group.
Ned took another route in regards to the snorkel on his Y62, employing the services of a local Rockhampton fabrication shop called White Knuckles Industries to make a stainless steel unit.
“I found a fabricator in Rockhampton who does all the steps and sliders, so I’ve got all of his gear,” Ned explains. “I’ve got his snorkel and his side steps. We basically designed the step the way I wanted it, with a plate underneath so it’s actually a step that works as a slider – it’s angled a bit to help with clearance and there are no bolt-on brackets; instead it’s welded and it looks really neat and is super strong.”
There are quite a few other modifications on Ned’s Y62 that give it an edge off road, such as the 35-inch rubber on Black Rock steel rims, and the Old Man Emu suspension kit that gives a handy two-inch lift. Ned’s also fitted an aftermarket exhaust system to help the big 5.6-litre V8 breathe a bit better, and give it a tastier note; it’s made from 2.5-inch mild steel tube to the Y-junction and then three-inch mild-steel tube to a sports muffler.
“I’ve gone for mild steel, not stainless, because I do a lot of off-roading, and with the hot and cold as you go through water, stainless tends to crack on the mandrel bends because it’s hardened,” Ned says.
Up top, Ned modified his old GU Patrol’s MCB4x4 roof rack, on which he runs a light bar, recovery tracks, awning and work lamp, and he plans to fit a drawer system in the rear of the cabin that can be easily removed when the third-row seats are in use. “I’m in the early stages of designing it and a mate is going to help me build it,” he says.
So how does it go off road? “This is the first fully independent suspension four-wheel drive I’ve owned,” Ned says. “My GU had more mods than this, yet this one goes more places easier than my GU ever could.”
With excellent low-range reduction, loads of low-rpm torque, sophisticated electronic traction control and an OE rear diff lock, there’s no doubting that the Y62 Patrol is a pretty capable 4WD straight out of the box, and the few mods that Ned has added certainly add to its off-road capability and its overall practicality.
Of course, the big question hanging over the Y62 Patrol is its potentially high fuel consumption, and just how that affects its touring range. Ned reckons he gets as low as 12.7L/100km on the road and as high as 26L/100km off the road. But for the type of driving he does, the Y62 offers plenty of range. “I’m based in Rockhampton,” he says.
“We’ve got a new 4x4 adventure park, Dalliston Vale 4x4 Park, near here, and I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s a relatively short drive, you can do all the tracks in a day; it’s close, and you can camp there and have a lot of fun. I also go out to fish at Byfield NP a fair bit, driving on the dunes and the sand; it’s probably 40 to 60km from Rocky to Byfield and I fill up in town before I leave and fill up when I get back, and I’ve never used more than 23L/100km on that trip.”
With a 140L fuel capacity, those numbers give the big Patrol an average touring range around 600km. That’s not too bad.
While a big petrol-V8 wagon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, Ned swears by the Y62 Patrol, as do many of the members of the Aussie Patrol Y62 Facebook group.
“At the end of the day, we don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone; we’re happy with our decision,” Ned says. “You can modify GU Patrols like nothing else and, while you can’t do that with a Y62, it’s such a superior car on the road, plus its capability off the road – I still can’t believe how good it is.”
Trent Leen’s Y62
If you’ve any interest in off-road competitions such as the Outback Challenge, you’ve no doubt heard the name Trent Leen. After all, he was runner-up in the first-ever Outback Challenge back in 1999, and he backed that performance up with a win in 2000, third place in 2001 and then another second place in 2005.
The vehicle on which many Outback Challenge competitors like Trent base their rigs is the live-axle Patrol – either a GQ or a GU model – because it’s tough, simple and capable, and relatively easy to modify. So it’s a little confronting, to say the least, for traditionalists to see a competitor of Trent’s calibre driving around in a fully independent suspension wagon such as the Y62.
“It originally started out as a car for my wife. We wanted something with seven seats, even though we ended up with eight seats, but we wanted to upgrade from a [TDV10] Touareg and we wanted something we could actually go out camping and four-wheel driving in,” Trent explains.
“I had a GU Patrol that I’d cut into a dual-cab ute at the time, but that was slowly becoming more work-orientated, and not really suited to going away on holidays and stuff, so that’s part of the reason we upgraded to something that’s a bit nicer to go away in, and the size and the room, the Y62 just ticked a lot of the boxes – and obviously the power was important coming out of a V10 Touareg.”
Based in Melbourne, Trent mainly uses the Y62 Patrol for trips into the Victorian High Country and, like Ned Cakovan, he says that fuel consumption and touring range aren’t really issues with the Y62.
“We’ve been up to Big Desert NP and the Border Track and stuff like that,” he says. “The economy, on paper, people freak out, but when we did Big Desert and the Border Track, we only used six litres more than a Ford Ranger. When you are loaded up and you’re in soft sand, you start putting some of these four-cylinder things under load and they’re drinking it just as hard as a big V8. We only carried one extra jerry can; we don’t have a long-range tank fitted.”
Trent opted for a Radflo suspension kit imported from the United States, which uses Total Chaos top arms and gives the Patrol a couple of inches extra ground clearance. Once installed, his mate Andrew Cassar of On Track 4x4 gave it another three-inch lift, fitting engineered lower arms and a diff drop front and rear. While he currently runs 35-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2s, Trent says there’s plenty of space to fit the 37-inch Krawlers from his comp truck, which he’s keen on doing.
Trent is impressed with the result: “It’s not like it gives you much more travel compared to a live axle. But, with the independent, I would say the front works better than the live axles, so even though you’ve got less overall travel, what you’ve got works better.
“It’s got a factory rear locker; I haven’t really done any really extreme stuff with it, but climbing up steps it works so well; I’d be comfortable taking this anywhere except the more extreme areas where you wouldn’t want to take a new car anyway.”
Other mods on Trent’s Y62 include an ARB bar, a Warn 9000lb winch that’s been waterproofed and runs synthetic rope, a Tanami snorkel, a pair of Narva HID driving lights and a Narva light bar, a Rhino Pioneer platform roof rack and a Rasslar rear bar, which usually runs dual swingers for the spare wheel and dual jerry can holder. “I don’t always have them on because I’m always going in and out of the back door,” Trent says. “I only put them on when we go away on trips.”
Like Ned, Trent’s in the process of developing a tailored drawer system for the back of his Patrol; in this case a single drawer on the driver’s side that will mean only one seat has to be removed. “I’ve only got two girls, but I need all the seats for when all the friends come along,” he laughs.
While there are a number of suspension kits to suit the suspension in the ST-L-spec Y62 Patrol, the same can’t be said for the Ti and Ti-L variants that run Nissan’s more complicated HBMC (Hydrualic Body Motion Control) set-up.
Fortunately for owners of the more luxurious-spec Y62 models, Andrew Cassar from On Track 4X4 has developed a solution.
“You can’t physically replace the struts and the shocks in the Tis and Ti-Ls, because it’s all hydraulically managed,” Andrew explains. “So we’ve managed to do a bit of an upgrade with them, where we supply an upgraded lower control arm to suit, which then gives the car two inches of lift. We’ve done quite a few to date and have sent them all over Australia, probably one or two kits a week.”
A Social Thing
“I started the (Aussie Patrol Y62) Facebook page a couple of weeks after I bought my Patrol,” Ned Cakovan explains.
“There wasn’t much information around. There was a GU Facebook page that I was always on, so I created the Y62 one. And I think in a year we’ve now got 800 people on the page [there were actually more than 900 last time we checked – ed].
“I don’t know how many are Y62 owners, but we’ve certainly got a very loyal, very knowledgeable core group who are very active in the page.
“We’ve got five admins and I’ve met all of them now [on various trips], so we all maintain the page’s integrity.
“It’s all about having fun and sharing our adventures.
“We’ve got heaps of people without Y62s on there; we’ve got a couple of Cruiser guys on there; we’re happy to have any one as long as they contribute constructively. We have a lot of fun and there’s a bit of banter and all that sort of stuff, but it’s really informative.
“We have some blokes on there who make me look like I know nothing about 4WDs; Trent Leen, for example, you’ll see his monster rig – you know, he’s the professional comp truck driver, and Andrew Cassar (On Track 4x4) is developing a lot of gear for us.
“We have tourers out there, like the grey nomads who travel all over Australia towing their big three-tonne vans through all sorts of country, and the information and the knowledge that they have, it’s incredible.”
While the Aussie Patrol Y62 Facebook page is a closed group, as Ned says, it’s open to anyone with the right attitude and who’s willing to contribute in a constructive manner. Get on there and check it out.
4x4 Australia spent a day out with members of the Y62 group in the Victorian High Country for this photo shoot. Such trips are conducted regularly by members of the group wherever they are.