I FIRST saw this rich-red GQ Patrol tray-top with a colour-coded Candy Camper up in Cooktown, and from the sweet burble issuing from under the bonnet, I knew it was something more than a 4.2-litre turbo-diesel.
This was first published in 4x4 Australia’s April 2011 issue.
The next time I saw it in its farm attire, just outside Loxton in South Australia’s Riverland, where owners Dudley and Iris Jackmann wrestle a living from grapes and cattle agistment.
This Patrol is something else. It started life in 1997 as a standard 4.2 normally-aspirated diesel, which soon had a turbo on it to boost power production.
From darn-near the beginning, the Patrol has also had a suspension upgrade with a 50mm lift from an all-round set of Pedder Trak Ryder foam-filled shocks and heavy-duty coils. BFG 32-inch tyres grace a set of highly polished 15 x 8 CSA alloy Magnum rims – one of the few rims around that are rated to carry a load of 1250kg each.
An Airtec snorkel was added along with a Gitsham alloy bullbar and, down the back, a smart-looking Gitsham alloy tray. An electric X9000 Superwinch and a pair of Hella 100W quartz-halogen driving lights grace the bullbar. While the rear diff is standard, the front has a Lock-Rite auto-locking diff fitted for that extra traction when you need it.
Under the bonnet, the Jackmanns fitted a dual battery system with a 4WD Systems isolator, while down the back end another 90-litre Nissan tank was added to increase the fuel range. An air compressor has been fitted inside the engine bay and air hoses plumbed into the vehicle with fittings at the front and rear provide air on tap for tyres and the rear suspension airbags.
The cab wasn’t left alone, either, and while the standard Nissan bucket seats are fine, a small fridge nestles between them. An overhead console holds a few CB radios and the dash has extra gauges to monitor turbo boost and exhaust gas temperature.
A Sony stereo replaces the old clunker that was fitted originally to the ST Patrol, while a voice-activated Garmin GPS/streetPilot, hands-free Bluetooth phone connector and reversing camera are the latest electronic gadgets to find a home in the cab.
Then, for its 10th birthday, a heart transplant marked the beginning of an incredible transformation.
Dudley bought a 6.5-litre V8 Chevy engine from Brunswick Diesel, complete with ceramic pistons and new manifold, turbo and alternator. A Chev clutch and a Marks 4WD Adaptors adaptor plate allows the V8 to mate with the standard Nissan five-speed gearbox. To help keep the engine cool, a five-core copper radiator also came from Brunswick.
To allow the new engine to fit more easily, Dudley, with tradie assistant Iris, spent hundreds of hours fitting the engine and custom building many of the necessary items that bolt to it and the body. First project was a 50mm body lift, while the firewall had to be remoulded and pushed back 25mm to allow room for the dump pipe from the turbo to fit more easily.
Then most of the electric wiring was stripped out and custom looms made to replace the older wiring and to link with the new engine.
Heavier-duty springs were fitted to the front and a spacer added to the bump stop, while all of the suspension components had their bushes replaced. To give the tyres a bit more clearance within the front wheel arch and to help overcome the lack of clearance between the starter motor and the diff housing, a 10mm spacer was added to the front suspension’s trailing arms, which essentially pushes the front axle forward.
A 3.5-inch custom exhaust was next and then, while one snorkel may have fed enough air to the old engine, it was left wanting when it came to the V8. After a lot of searching, an Airflow snorkel meant for a 60 Series Cruiser now graces the driver’s-side pillar, ensuring the engine gets enough air when the foot is pushed to the metal. More importantly, it looks like it was meant to be there!
To ensure the V8 engine got clean air, Dudley built two stainless steel air boxes and fitted them with K&N air filters. Two beautifully designed and built air inlet hoses run from the boxes via a pair of stainless water-cooled coolers to the inlet of the turbo.
The coolers are fed water stored and cooled in the alloy bullbar, via an electric pump mounted behind it. It’s not an intercooler, but it ensures the engine is getting air as cool as possible. For outback trips and to get to places where their large caravan couldn’t go, the Jackmanns bought a Candy Camper and colour-coded it to suit the red Patrol. It looks good!
Two 50-litre, food-grade alloy water tanks were custom made and fitted to the underside of the tray just behind the cab so that the Jackmanns could be independent for longer periods. One of these feeds a stainless steel custom-made hot water heater, the heating coil fed water from the engine radiator.
When it is activated, the heater can warm the water in the tank to shower temperature in about 20 minutes of engine running.
Then, in 2009, in the ongoing quest for more power, Dudley decided to fit gas injection to the Patrol. He acquired a Diesel/Gas Australia kit and set about fitting it himself. The 34-litre gas tank was fitted under the rear tray and above one of the fuel tanks while all hoses were run in protective conduits to the front, where the gas runs through a regulator/mixer and a filter into the turbo.
An electronic black box helps control gas injection and Dudley has played with different jets to improve performance and economy, while Diesel/Gas Australia has re-programmed the unit to suit.
Dudley added a gas shut-off switch, which cuts gas to the engine when he is on a trailing throttle. The turbo currently runs about nine pounds of boost and, using a gas and diesel mixture that is about 20 percent gas.
While the Nissan hasn’t been on a dyno since the gas injection went onto it, the V8 should be pushing out around 155kW of power at 3400rpm and 500Nm of torque at around 1700 revs.
I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of this immaculate GQ and to take it for a quick blast on some of the dirt roads around Loxton and the Murray River. The push back into the seat when I floored it proved Patrol has lots more … lots, lots more than a standard 4.2 turbo! And when the Patrol is lightly loaded, like when I drove it, it is oh-so-easy to spin the wheels in first – and second!
With a flick of a switch on the dash you can turn off the gas injection and once again you feel it (there’s about a 20 percent difference, according to Diesel Gas Australia), especially on a hill under full throttle. The gas injection makes towing a lot easier and safer.
Read more 4x4 Australia custom reviews
Importantly, all the work has been engineered and certified. I reckoned it would have breezed that in because it is, without a doubt, the best-presented Patrol I have ever seen, while the engine conversion is the finest I’ve seen done in a 4X4, bar none.
The vehicle is no show pony, either, with Dudley and Iris getting out bush and taking the rig to Cape York, Fraser Island and throughout the desert country of our outback in the last couple of years. Isn’t that what all