Picture your dream 4x4. A healthy canopy set-up on the back for remote touring; a locker at either end, with some chunky mud-tyres ensuring you’ll make it up any track you point it at; a bullbar up front to keep it safe from animal strikes; and some killer suspension underneath helping smooth out corrugation after corrugation.
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Got a good mental picture in mind? Perfect. There’s one just like it sitting proudly on Loyalty Beach right now. There are two more just a short drive up the track at Punsand Bay. There are three more rolling into Birdsville as you read this, and another four parked up at the pub at Weipa. Most of them are beige, or Sandy Taupe as the marketing departments have dubbed it.
You see, while 4x4s are a product of function over form they very frequently end up being cookie-cutter builds, straight out of the mould someone else built, just with a few different stickers slapped on the side.
Tyler’s SAS-style custom Holden Colorado is far from beige, in the figurative and literal sense. It’s his perfect creation, every square inch of it dreamt up in his mind and pieced together methodically by his own hands to create something truly unique – something that stands out from the crowd.
Like any decent build, Tyler built his 4x4 on a solid foundation. Underneath, where once lied rudimentary leaf springs and underwhelming independent suspension, there’s now something far more fit for purpose.
Starting from the back Tyler sliced and diced the bracketry off both the chassis and the rear axle, relegating the leaf springs to the scrap pile. In their place is now a full coil setup utilising the factory Colorado rear end with a set of home-brew control arms holding it in place.
Based off the NP300 coil rear geometry, Tyler pieced together the parallel 4-link and Panhard arrangement before fabbing up mounts to make it all ride on NP300 coils. The 10-inch-travel TJM shocks keep the ride quality in check, with the mounts tucked nice and close to the tyres to help with ground clearance.
Up front has copped a similar treatment. One of the last ‘old-school’ short-arm torsion bar independent front suspension setups, the Colorado’s stock arrangement was never going to be a serious performer, no matter how many shiny parts Tyler threw at it. Instead, out came the grinder again, with the OEM bracketry being expertly removed from the frame rails.
With a blank canvas, Tyler rolled a GQ Patrol live axle up into place and set about making it work. Stock Patrol radius arms locate the axle fore and aft and find a home in custom brackets on the chassis side; a stock Panhard does similar for side-to-side movement.
There’s a second set of 10-inch-travel TJM shocks smoothing out the ride; although, this time there are LC79 coil springs holding the whole affair in the air, with LC80 progressive bump stops ironing out Tyler’s more ambitions lines.
Sending power to both axles is the renowned 4JJ1 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder by Isuzu. It’s earnt itself a reputation for easy power, and Tyler flies that flag high. It’s pushing out a massive 200hp and 540Nm to the rear wheels with basic bolt-on modifications.
A Safari Snorkel on the intake side helps it breathe clean, cool air, up out of the churning dust down in the stock location. It feeds down into the stock turbo and intercooler, before firing out the other end through a full three-inch exhaust system.
The stock manual cog-swapper has proved itself more than up to the task of handling the power, and a TRE air locker up front gives Tyler that oh-so-important get-out-of-gaol-free card.
“That locker cost me about $100 in metal,” he told us with a laugh. “A bloke I know wanted a bullbar built for his 4x4 and paid me with a locker.”
Of course then it should come as no surprise that Tyler’s bar work is more than a little unique, too. Starting from up front, the one-off bar is actually built on the foundations of an Xrox unit.
“I started with the centre section of an old Xrox bar,” Tyler says. “I cut off the tube wings on either side and folded up some plate wings to enclose it in.”
While the welder and grinder were out, he also worked in a new set of headlight hoops, giving the bullbar a factory look – and all of his own design.
Sliding on Rails
Moving down the flanks and Tyler protected his delicate parts with a set of heavy-duty scrub bars tying in the bullbar to the sliders. He’s done the same again in the rear, allowing the tough-as-nails Colorado to practically slide along obstacles from headlight to tail-light with damage limited to nothing more than some scuffed paint.
Eagle-eyed readers might note there’s something a little odd about that rear bar and tyre carrier. While a tub-chop and tube rear bar aren’t exactly groundbreaking, Tyler’s managed to do it and throw his tailgate in the bin at the same time.
“I really didn’t want to eat too much into my departure angle,” he tells us. “I ditched the tailgate and used the space to push the spare tyre and twin jerry cans further into the tub for less overhang.”
There’s no chance of anything falling through the gaps either. Resting behind the swing-out carrier is – you guessed it – a home-brew camping setup. Tyler The Creator rolled out the tools yet again, this time constructing a full false floor in the tub, giving him storage underneath without impacting his ability to hurl gear on top.
There’s a huge roll-out drawer hiding below, perfect for bulky items, with a 120amp Bosch AGM second battery finding a home in there too. It’s powered by a 25amp Projecta charger, with solar input waiting for his camping setup to grow.
While the Colorado is clearly built for hardcore wheeling, there are a few camping concessions on the inside. A GME UHF keeps communication lines open between the convoy or spotters, while Boost and EGT gauges work hand-in-hand with the Engine Data Scan tool to keep the oil-burner happy.
In a world full of carbon-copy Instagram builds, Tyler’s rig is a refreshing take. A unique platform, unique mods and a unique purpose. It doesn’t take a huge credit card to build something truly capable; sometimes all it takes is a little hard work and some planning.
Same Same but Different
If you’ve been under the front end of a Holden Colorado or the similarly named Chevy Colorado, you might have noticed a few similarities in the suspension and chassis design. You’d notice the same thing again looking under the Isuzu D-MAX and the GMC Canyon. Hell, you’d see them again under the Hummer H3. All five models were developed simultaneously for what is known as the GMT 355 platform.
Just like Instagram is overloaded with same same but different builds, so are dealerships all over the world.
While the differences are mostly cosmetic – different headlights, bolt-on panels and interiors – the drivetrains are the differences that excite us. A whole host of engines were available including the 4JJ1 and other various small-capacity General Motors and Isuzu engines; and both the Chevy Colorado and Hummer H3 were available with a 5.3L V8 LS engine, making the Aussie Colorado prime for an engine swap.