I had a request the other day to be a part of a book, the book was on modified cars, they wanted three photos and a short story on the car, 3 photos I thought………. That should be easy.
I fired up the old laptop, it took a few minutes to come to life, bogged down with 10’s of thousands of images, I don’t think of myself as an image horder, I used to be ruthless with my photos, I usually tried to keep just a few of a certain image that depicted a stage or a part of the build.
Truth is though, I have built a lot…… and the Hilux is the most complex of them all.
I open up the folder thats titled “Hilux build” and start to flag the important images that I believe to be milestones in its creation.
3,500 images culled to 120 later and I start to understand that choosing 3 images is going to be impossible.
If you sift back through these pages you will understand the journey I have taken, I don’t expect very many people to really wrap their head around the effort I went to and to be brutally honest I took the fun out of building cars for myself.
Why? Well you always want to better than you did the time before right? ……….. I learnt a lot of stuff over this build, found new ways to tackle old problems and came up with new ideas as I completed the old ones. I told myself to not look back, leave the imperfections and keep progressing or I will never finish what I started.
That moment that the Hilux was completed I looked back at it and I knew that it was the biggest project I will ever complete, I stepped out of my garage knowing there will never be another, from financial pressure, garage space, life hours and the thirst for adventure I knew it could never happen again.
But I tell you what, if I ever had the chance, if there was ever a moment in time when everything came together and I had this opportunity to relive and reinterpret my ideal machine I would lunge at it.
So here is the 100 images I flagged as being important milestones in my journey.
How it began, end of 2010 I decided to pull the trigger on that thing that wouldnt leave my mind, a trip to Sydney to pick up a few hundred dollar bit of steel that I didnt really need much of.
The first time my vision became a reality, I knew there was a lot of work to do though.
I made a jig on wheels, my garage was only big enough to squeeze it and my tools in, I had to work outside.
My first TIG project, a steep learning curve.
The spare wheels off my 180SX were only a test set, I picked them up in Japan for a steal, somehow the look stuck and I never removed them.
They were produced in the year 2001 and the cabin was a 2001 model, I dug the weird “period correctness” it seemed to have.
My first sit inside, gives you an indication of the seating position.
2011, new house, new garage, I could work on it without having to pack up, it was amazing.
The garage was bare, I fitted it out with everything I needed, it was heaven!
I sanded bog for a long time, I hated it, I would do it a lot differently now.
From this point on the progress sped up, I didn’t have neighbors to worry about, I could go all night.
And believe me I did, a lot.
Sheetmetal and the way you cut, fold, TIG and shape it became a passtime.
Mock up stages came and went, they were time consuming but paramount.
I started to concentrate on the little things, footboard and fuel lines, the oval tubes were going to be water but I decided against a rear mount radiator. Now these hold the brake lines and wiring.
When the rear guards were done I was in love.
Every three months I would
It down to rustproof it.
I could roll it over by hand.
To create the complete flat alloy floor, again I would do it so much differently again.
But thats how you learn.
I didnt draw a thing, I just freestyled the entire build.
Things really developed in front of me.
I could never see the progress, always looking for the next job and never back at what I had done.
But I loved looking at it, I loved how it went together.
Each component, small to large incorporated a lot of the detail I loved.
Colours were chosen and splashes of red were thrown through the suspension joints.
It complemented the weld bleed, the grain in the steel and the brightness of the alloy.
I wanted to do so much but retain the smoothness of the overall finish.
With a mock up session over it was time for another strip down, this was a monthly event, the jig became a table.
The welds continued to flow, late into the nights.
Whole weeks could be poured into small items and then never used in the finished product.
The smaller items started to find their place.
Then once again it would slowly become a car again.
Spacious areas became cramped, brackets became more complex.
But the look just became more and more exciting.
I could start to see the finished product.
Getting air in and out of the motor, out of the engine bay and clear of the car was a challenging role.
But done with the up most care.
With the finishing touches well planned out.
When a colour had to be added I made sure it was the right shade.
I made sure it was the right fit.
The results were astonishing.
I searched for solutions at every roadblock.
I called in help when it was needed.
It came with a smile and 2 of the nicest people called my place home for 10 days.
Bringing life to a machine that I created.
Executed in a way so that the entire world could learn from their actions.
In just 8 days 3 years of work became a number on a screen.
With some small town help I managed to send those numbers to the pavement.
Out of the garage and into the unknown.
The moment I had been waiting for.
Just a press of the button away.
Nerves, excitement, pressure and stress.
Followed by pure enjoyment.
And a sense of achievement.
Back home and the job wasnt done.
Lists as long as my arm, jobs that still needed to be completed.
In and out of the garage.
I just couldn’t stop looking at it.
Or driving it.
Or towing it.
I even made a hardlid that I have never used.
And just like that it was stripped again.
The oil system was spill free, a huge positive when its apart so often.
The clear powdercoat was tested on my BMX, I ran it for a few months and loved it, the decision was made.
Washed down with thinners, 3 years of rust prevention paid off.
Back from the powdercoaters.
It was perfect.
All got the powdercoat flow.
And just like that another chapter begun.
Parts were cleaned, finished and sub assemblies created.
The finer details started to appear.
The mechanical beauty was apparent.
The cleanest of clean.
In one night I loaded all the parts into my trailer.
And spent 24 hours assembling it in a warehouse, nearly 3 full days without sleep.
Running on adrenaline.
And some good company.
Back home and time to make it work.
It was only a button away.
Release the air.
Say goodbye to the rear tyres.
Time to turn some laps.
Followed by more work.
Luck, timing, money.
Become one again.
Testing in front of crowds, stress, anxiety, enjoyment and relief.
For another country.
Where the following and acceptance was overwhelming.
The helmet becomes home for a day.
To protect the vision and the future.
To cement itself in the history books.
And head for home.
Back to where it began.
And be involved in the biggest events.
To wait for the next.