Text: Danie Botha
Photography: Jannie Herbst
We recently went to visit the project Nissan Navara 2.5dCi 4×4 in Pretoria, where it is currently being given a new coat of paint, and custom side body panels.
In a way, it felt like visiting a relative in hospital. A relative who underwent comprehensive plastic surgery, to completely alter his looks. A relative you won’t even recognise after all that surgery.
So, when we walked into S&J Panelbeaters, a Pretoria-North based company that specialises in custom builds and paint jobs, and saw the Navara for the first-time after it received its new wheels, we experienced one of those “wow, that’s nice, but where is our bakkie?” moments.
It was our long-term Nissan Navara. And it is something to behold, even though it took a few minutes before we could actually speak after seeing the machine in the flesh.
The wheels are massive. Ditto the ground clearance. It’s one heck of a thing.
But let’s first go back a few weeks, to LA Sport’s shop in Pretoria. There Lionel Lewis’s henchmen fitted a complete TJM off-road suspension, along with a 60mm body lift.
The TJM brand hails from Australia, and LA Sport is the official local distributor. The company started manufacturing off-road equipment in 1973 for the Aussie market, where 4x4s are often used in tough and extreme conditions. The TJM XGS suspension, as fitted to the Navara, consists of new springs up front, springs and shock absorbers at the back, as well as polyurethane bushes.
The springs are not just any old springs. The TJM XGS Suspension lineal and progressive rate coils are manufactured to TJM’s exacting specifications on computer-controlled coiling machines, then spot peened, load tested and finally, powder coated.
The springs are designed to provide a smooth and comfortable ride when the vehicle is not carrying a load, and improved stability and load-carrying capability when that heavy load is added.
The TJM XGS shock absorbers are also specially developed for extreme 4×4 usage. The 60mm diameter expanded body, with its large oil capacity and high-temperature oil seal, can keep its cool, even when the going gets very heavy duty. It also features fully welded mounts, polyurethane bushes, and extra strong, twin-tube construction. This is one shock absorber that relishes a tough work-out.
The TJM XGS polyurethane bushes are also a high-grade component, manufactured specifically for tough 4×4 applications, and offering a far longer life than rubber bushes.
Next up is the TJM Airtec snorkel system. But a snorkel is a snorkel is a snorkel, right? Yes, and no. Yes, they all perform the same function, and that is to keep water and dust out of engines. But there is more to the Airtec snorkel’s case than just being a handy off-road accessory.
All Airtec snorkels are designed according to a specific vehicle’s profile, and according to its styling, and looks. So you get a specific snorkel for a Navara, a specific snorkel for a Hilux, and so on. The result is a snorkel that not only does its job very well, but also looks good, fitting in with its host’s profile.
The wheels? now this was more of a challenge to fit than the suspension and snorkel. The LA Sport crew had to manufacture a special adaptor for the Mickey Thompson rims to fit the Nissan’s standard hubs. They also had to modify the body in places to enable the front wheels to turn as they should.
Next month we’ll give you some more detail about those 38-inch Mickey Thompson Performance tyres, and the specialised wheels. But here’s an appetiser in the meantime: this American company develops and distributes tyres for the street, drag strip, track, and off-road. It was founded in 1963, and the company is renowned especially for its competition tyres.
A perfect partner for our Navara project, in other words.
In the meantime, S&J Panelbeaters, with Quinton Fourie at the helm, is busy creating new custom body panels for the Navara. Soon, the bakkie will go in for its new coat of paint: a camouflage-green, in a matt finish.
Then, in time, the rest of the accessories will be added.
This Nissan Navara is going to be a beast.
A beautiful 4×4 beast.