What The Fourby?
Coming in at 2.5 tonnes and a 50/50 split… this jigsaw ute has balance and poise
When Brett started this, he did the complete opposite to what you’d expect. That’s the smart way to make something so WRONG. After two turbo-diesels got binned and not lovin’ it so much, Brett tired of pouring money through the holes in the pistons and decided to build something bulletproof. But he wanted to make sure he wasn’t about to pour more money down another big black hole, so the first thing he did was jump on the phone.
“Boys, I’ve got an idea…”
Josh and Joel Smith are two blokes that share more than a surname. Sure, they’re brothers; but they’re also both automotive engineers and car nuts. When they gave Brett the nod, there was probably a shared grin between them too.
Armed with good advice, the quest was on. Solid driveline, strong engine, big rubber, good flex and handling, simplicity, reliability, comfort and all the mod-cons. Put that on a shopping list and you won’t find it in any glossy showroom – so it had to be built using the best of what Brett could find.
Having measured and drawn exactly how it was going to work, the first piece of the puzzle was located. A highly modified Ford Maverick, aka Nissan Patrol GQ, with a Holden V8 motor and custom body chop. Perfect! Just the ‘bitsa’ he needed!
Most people might toss a jigsaw in the back of the cupboard when bits don’t fit. Not Brett; he makes ’em fit. The first task in this project was stripping the tubbed wagon body off the donor chassis. The next phase was seeing if all those measurements and drawings were on point, as the Triton shell was carefully lowered into place. Hmm… missed by that much. GRINDER!!!
New body mounts, modified wheel arches, gearbox tunnel, radiator support panel, grille. Almost everything received the touch of an artisan with a blowtorch. But plopping the body on new mounts was the easy part; making it all work harmoniously took another six months.
Why? Well here’s a short list of just
some of the pieces in this jigsaw:
Ford Maverick branded wagon;
Nissan Patrol GQ chassis/driveline;
Nissan Patrol GU diffs;
Holden V8 petrol motor; and
Mitsubishi Triton body.
It even runs a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series V8 diesel air filter, in a custom box of course…
Many of the changes in this build are so subtle you wouldn’t notice them, and that’s the result of seeking good advice. The new body mounts could be mistaken for factory – not over-worked blobs of metallic chewing gum created with a shaky stick welder.
The steering linkage takes the commands normally destined for a rack and pinion and instead shuffles a recirculating ball steering box in the right direction.
The originally strengthened GQ diffs were tossed aside for later-model GU diffs with better brakes, given 35 inches of rubber was part of the approved plans. The extra acreage demanded of the radiator was never going to just fall into place. It now resides almost up there with the Lightforce spotties, behind a cleverly crafted grille opening to enable regular maintenance.
All the custom barwork that came with the body-lifted Maverick had to be customised again in order to line up with the new Triton sheet metal. Weights and measures were taken at almost every step to ensure the whole package met the engineer’s requirements.
A new custom exhaust system went in – not only to work around the new body and unique custom tray back, but also to meet the strict emissions testing this Jigsaw was to be subjected to. This was in all respects a whole new truck, so everything was being scrutinised.
Brett wakes up at 2.00am every day. Not ‘staring at the ceiling dreaming about a monster Triton’ type awake, but because he runs a small fleet of trucks delivering foodstuff to shops. That takes dedication, attention to detail and planning to make sure everything runs smoothly. Handy attributes to have when building a crazy-level 4WD. But when he’s done for the day around late-morning, he likes to play like anyone else – and living by the water, that’s where he lets off steam.
His oil-burning Triton was getting in the way of his fun time, with expensive engine work taking a toll on the enjoyment factor. Some might say he hit the barriers on the other side of the track with this swerve… but now he really is loving it.
Whether you’re a Mitsi fan or not, you have to admit running a modern cab over a proven chassis and driveline with the poise of Jonah Lomu doing the Haka and an oozing V8 burble that’d make someone taking Valium think they’ve gorged on Viagra… just makes for one sweet ride.
The Triton ute is generally a pretty nice bus, and Brett didn’t want to toss it all away. It just meant picking up the pieces of the mess and finding something that worked for him. It’s not beyond the means of anyone really; it just takes a few smarts and engaging people with the right skills and knowledge along the way. We just can’t see how he’s managed to get it so WRONG!