Blink, then don’t be afraid to blink again, because this ain’t no ordinary 4x4 dual-cab ute. Yep, it’s a Y62 Patrol.
In fact, it’s the first Y62 dual-cab built and out on the tracks – a distinct departure from the ever-increasing number of Toyota LC200 dual-cabs doing the rounds these days. And yeah, we agree, chopping and changing a Y62 sure does seem like a crazy idea, but that view is easily dismissed when you see this bruiser in the metal – and listen to its passionate owner, Peter Thorpe, talk about what he rates as the ultimate all-rounder.
Not so crazy after all
Peter has owned – and raced – a raft of off-roaders over the years, swapping his behind-the-wheel tenure between earlier model Patrols and what he terms a short step to the ‘dark side’ of Land Cruiser ownership, before returning to the Nissan fold with the purchase of a Y62, a vehicle that, in standard form, he always admired.
“It is just the most underestimated four-wheel drive on the market,” Peter says. “Heaps of power, comfortable, big, roomy – all that sort of thing – and really, really good off- and on-road.”
So it wasn’t that long until things started going a wee bit wild. Peter came up with the idea of transforming the Y62 into a dual-cab rig, something that had never been done and wasn’t really thought possible.
His aim was to build an ‘all-rounder’ that would be equally adept at transporting him and his family on their regular camping adventures, as well as his own fishing and hunting expeditions – plus, it would see a lot of towing work. Encouragingly, his idea didn’t seem that far-fetched after he proposed it to On Track 4X4’s Andrew Cassar.
“I rang Andrew and spoke to him and said this is what I want to do,” Peter remembers. “No-one else has done one ... while everyone else has had Land Cruisers cut and other things cut, nobody has cut a Y62 Patrol. He just said, ‘Yep, let’s do it’”.
Andrew laughs when asked about the question of transforming the Y62, jokingly referring to it as ‘the question I really didn’t want to answer’ but he reckoned it could be done. And, he knew the exact crew of specialists to entrust with the project, firstly checking with the engineer that he uses for his work at On Track 4X4 and then enlisting Les at Tinman Fabrications, who he rates incredibly highly, to firstly answer the ‘can it be done’ question, and then to do the actual cutting work.
Once he received nods of agreement he got back to Peter with the question of when he wanted to start, and the big build began.
Small steps, big gains
The Y62 is a high-tech, modern 4x4 with all the usual standard fitments these vehicles entail, and it was here that the team struck a few small problems, most notably with the air-conditioning system and the Patrol’s airbags.
The vehicle’s air-con ducts go right through the vehicle to the third-row seating at the back, which meant having to re-route them to ensure they finished at the back of the second row – and still worked as designed.
The next issue was the Patrol’s airbags, which meant designing a bracket that would retain the side-pillar airbag. On top of these two issues the re-wiring took a bit of time to figure out, again to ensure the vehicle would meet ADR and safety regulations after having its back half removed.
Trying to ‘trick’ the engine management system was a challenge, according to Andrew, with the vehicle still ‘looking’ for the tailgate, as one example.
Perhaps surprisingly, the actual cutting of the vehicle was straightforward, with Les removing the back section and welding the ute-back onto the body and finishing all the fabrication work – a top-notch job that Peter raves about in terms of the quality of the work.
Out the back
Upon the return of the now cut-down Patrol to On Track 4X4 HQ, the big Nissan was re-painted before Andrew got stuck into the rewiring and re-fitting of the interior.
Peter decided to also fully rewire the Patrol so as to accommodate all the power-reliant accessories that were to be fitted. This entailed fitment of a Redarc dual-battery management system and some tricky positioning of two auxiliary batteries (on top of the small auxiliary fitted in the crowded engine bay) in the powder-coated tray. The tray also includes a slide-out drawer at the rear for storage.
“With the Y62 there is not a lot of room for auxiliary batteries under the bonnet, so I have a small one,” Peter explains. “I had the tray designed with a false floor in the bottom that went underneath the tray to hold two extra batteries and a dual air compressor. I also had a [80L] water tank built into the head board.”
It is this use of all available space that adheres to Peter’s idea of creating a vehicle that could do double- or triple-duty, with the canopy a key component in making that work. The canopy was built by Will from WF Fabrications in Bendigo.
“He [Will] and I designed it,” Peter says. “He built it to the specs I wanted and had a few ideas that were good, so we just worked together and said this is how I want it. He said ‘how about this’, so we basically built it over a few months as I was in no rush.”
The canopy features a separate dog cage, along with another storage box (housing the ever-present 60L Engel fridge/freezer on a Clear View Easy Slide, as well as offering additional storage space), and a dual spare-wheel carrier setup, allowing the flexibility of use that Peter was after. The canopy is all-aluminium in construction, so doesn’t add excessive weight to the tray – and it’s easy to remove.
“You can just slide it off onto a bench,” Peter reckons. “I have a roller bench I slide it onto. It probably takes no more than five minutes to take it off. To put it back on takes about the same – it all just bolts back on and it is ready to go again.”
The sum of everything
It’s hard to draw the eye away from the immaculate finish of the metal-work on this Patrol, but there are plenty of schmick touring mods fitted.
The front end of the Nissan features ARB bar-work, (front winch bar with Warn winch, side-rails and side steps), as well as an ARB Intensity light set-up (spotties and light bar). A TJM Airtec snorkel keeps the V8 (fitted with a Unichip) breathing freely, while beefy Pro Comp XTreme MT2 315/70R17 rubber roll on Black Rock Crawler 17x8 steel rims.
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Ensuring the Y62 walks the talk off-road, Peter has lifted the Patrol by two inches and fitted ARB’s BP51 remote-reservoir shocks (along with Airbag Man airbags in the rear), which have taken this experienced owner some getting used to.
“They take a little bit to get right I have noticed,” Peter says. “But I race vehicles as well, so I am used to King shocks off-road that are unbelievable and a lot more tuneable than the BP-51. But, once I have the settings right, the BP-51s seem really good off-road and soak up the bumps well.”
Underneath the tray Peter has fitted a 150L Long Ranger fuel tank to up the Patrol’s total fuel capacity to a lofty 290 litres. And he’s done this for good reason.
“It’s heavy on fuel,” he says ruefully. “If you sit on 100-105km/h it is really good – you probably get about 22L/100 – but anything around 110km/h and you are up around 26L/100...”
Yep, that is high, but it’s worth taking into account the fact Peter is running a larger tyre underneath a vehicle that, when you add a roof-rack and the weight of gear to the vehicle’s base weight, is a hefty off-roader to propel along the tracks.
“It would be nice if it was actually a bit better on fuel. Having said that, the price you can buy them for compared to a Land Cruiser, it can be up to a $30K difference [depending on model], so that’s a lot of fuel.” Plus he gets to listen to the sweet growl of that 5.6-litre V8 through the 2.5-inch custom exhaust system.
A more than happy result
The build for this unique bush tourer took around six months, with some additional time taken up with some final tweaking to the tray and canopy setup. Since then, the dual-cab Y62 has seen plenty of use, with Peter stoked with its overall performance.
“I am absolutely rapt with it,” he says. “I just went away for the weekend [at the time of writing] in it and it just outperforms anything I have ever had. It is just an amazing vehicle off-road; it has heaps of power. On the dirt, it’s just unbelievable how good it is. It just soaks up bumps and anything else ... I’ve had heaps of vehicles – Toyotas, loads of other Nissans – but to be honest there’s nothing else that really compares to it.”
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Even allowing for how stoked he is with the finished product, Peter still remembers that creating the first Y62 Patrol dual-cab, and one that looks like something that has just rolled out of a factory, meant a hell of a lot of work and time for himself, Andrew, Les, Will and all the others involved.
“People don’t understand with a conversion it’s not straightforward,” he laughs. “You’re not like these big manufacturers who pay engineers to sit on it all day and work out the problems; you’ve just got to hook in and do it yourself. Once you hit a problem, rather than jumping up and down ... you’re better off just thinking ‘Okay, what are we going to do about it and what have we got to do’. Once you get your head around that’s the way it is, you’re laughing.”
And Peter can laugh; with good reason. Building a dual-cab Y62 Patrol – his idea of the perfect all-rounder – and being an integral part of that process, we reckon it’ll take years to wipe the huge smile off his face. He’s a lucky guy.