What do you do if your perfect 4X4 doesn’t exist? You build your own, engine conversion and all!
Nick Heit hates ZD30s. He tried to like them; really he did. But with a young family, and a desire to see everything this country has to offer, being stuck on the side of the road again and again with mechanical issues wasn’t his idea of a good time. He loved his GU Patrol though, so what to do? Well, he picked up a trusty old TD42 motor from a GQ Patrol, converted it himself and wound enough turbo boost and fuel through it to make this ’ere Datsun more powerful than a current V8 LandCruiser.
His truck, which he refers to as Evil GU, is so much more than just an engine swap with some aftermarket goodies bolted onto it though. Nick has cut, welded, grafted and sworn at this GU until it has become his ideal four-wheel drive, built his way. Is it finished? Pfffft, we all know these things are never finished. But it is 100% cooler than the day it rolled off the production line, that’s for sure.
Nick is a bit of an identity in the 4X4 scene, having been involved in many events both as a spectator and a photographer. He is a 28-year-old garden gnome enthusiast according to his bio, but we can’t help but feel this is his cheeky side coming out. He is a father of three; that we can confirm. And he works in the NSW Hunter Valley region as a fitter and turner. While that keeps him busy during work hours, Nick’s real obsession is photography, adventure, and being a bit of a mad scientist as well.
“Photography is a huge passion of mine, so having a vehicle that can literally go anywhere in Australia allows me to get those shots not many people would have the opportunity to take. This is what drives my passion for exploration even further,” he explains.
As you can see by the images Nick supplied for this article, he is one heck of a skilled photographer. Keep an eye out for more of Nick’s images in upcoming issues of Unsealed 4X4.
As mentioned, Nick’s 2006 GU started life as a four-cylinder ZD30-powered (that’s the wrong word) wagon, which he purchased in 2010 as an upgrade from his older GQ Patrol. “I saw it online, and bought it from a soccer mum… literally,” says Nick. “Buying a black vehicle was a terrible choice, though.” After two injector pump failures, at a cost of $5,000 each, enough was enough and Nick decided to swap in the TD42 as well as modify it for better performance.
“With the main purpose of the vehicle being remote-area travel, reliability is the number one objective,” Nick explains. “This required a lot of thought on how to modify the vehicle to an engineering standard that improves on what the manufacturers achieved. I found every weak link, and improved them to perform better than Nissan ever intended.” So far Nick and his family have done Cape York twice, Fraser Island, the Victorian High Country and many trips through Queensland. According to Nick, it has been a comfortable and reliable vehicle ever since that ZD30 got put in the bin.
Have you got a cuppa brewed? This is going to take a while to get through! Tyre wise, Nick is running a set of 37in Hankook Dynapro mud terrain tyres mounted on 17in rims. Suspension is just a simple 2in lift with EFS shocks that have 100,000km on them and still work well, according to Nick. Extended bump stops limit up-travel to make room for those huge tyres, and twin ARB air lockers are fitted inside fully-braced axle housings, with 4.6 ratio diff gears from an RD28-powered Patrol to help turn the 37s on road; while 43% reduction gears in the transfer case help off-road.
As he likes to be prepared for anything, Nick has a total of three air compressors onboard (two ARB compressors under the bonnet for the air lockers, with the third one installed inside the passenger guard with a 9L air tank to make pumping those 37s quicker and easier). The barwork is a real standout feature on Nick’s truck, and we could run a separate article on it. “The bullbar started out as an ARB Sahara bar,” Nick tells us. “I modified it to fit Rigid Industries LED lights, fully-braced recovery points and a Warn 8274 High Mount. Oh, this winch has also been extensively modified with bracing bars, oil fill and drain plugs, breathers, pinned freespool, tapped and capped brake shaft and a 6.8hp Bow 2 motor. I’ve also installed an Albright solenoid under the bonnet, with winch activation switches on the grille and inside the cabin.”
Nick continues: “I built the rear bar with one swing-away arm stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger to hold the 37in spare, and the other arm holds two 20L jerry cans, a high-lift jack and my custom shovel and chainsaw holder… that gets lots of attention. While the welder and bender were out, I built a pair of rock sliders, strong enough to handle 3.5 tonnes of 4X4 crushing down on rocks. So far, so good.” One of the coolest mods however is the PID Diesel Engineering hydraulic brake booster he has fitted, which uses the (modified) power steering system to increase pressure and flow in order to supply a hydrobooster. Yes, the brakes are controlled by the power steering system, and Nick says the results are much better than the factory brakes ever were.
ENGINE CONVERSION AND MODS
For anyone who has one or is interested in TD42s, Nick has built one of the best performing engines we’ve seen. Turbo-wise, he is running a Performance 4X4 TD05 18g unit which crams 30psi of boost into the motor. Yes, 30psi! To get enough fuel into the equation, a modified Performance 4X4 12mm injector pump and 150psi crack pressure injectors have been installed too. A front-mount intercooler keeps intake temperatures down, and a custom-made airbox with a 4in stainless steel snorkel feeds deliciously cool air to the hungry oiler. A custom alloy radiator shroud has also been fitted, as well as an engine fan from a Nissan G35 Infinity (of all things).
“TD42s suffer from a lack of airflow, which causes overheating issues,” mentions Nick. “With the use of an Anemometer (an instrument that measures the speed of wind), I measured the airspeed on the back of the radiator (at speed) and found it to be half of the road airspeed. The G35 fan was found to fit the Patrol viscous hub directly, and with its more aggressive pitch angle it has increased airflow and cooling dramatically.”