ETS Drift Ute – 3 years in 100 Photos

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.

Book001

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.

Book002

The first time my vision became a reality, I knew there was a lot of work to do though.

Book003

I made a jig on wheels, my garage was only big enough to squeeze it and my tools in, I had to work outside.

Book004

My first TIG project, a steep learning curve.

Book005

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.

Book006

They were produced in the year 2001 and the cabin was a 2001 model, I dug the weird “period correctness” it seemed to have.

Book007

My first sit inside, gives you an indication of the seating position.

Book008

2011, new house, new garage, I could work on it without having to pack up, it was amazing.

Book010

The garage was bare, I fitted it out with everything I needed, it was heaven!

Book011

I sanded bog for a long time, I hated it, I would do it a lot differently now.

Book012

From this point on the progress sped up, I didn’t have neighbors to worry about, I could go all night.

Book013

And believe me I did, a lot.

Book014

Sheetmetal and the way you cut, fold, TIG and shape it became a passtime.

Book015

Mock up stages came and went, they were time consuming but paramount.

Book016

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.

Book017

When the rear guards were done I was in love.

Book018

Every three months I would

Book019

Strip

Book020

It down to rustproof it.

Book021

I could roll it over by hand.

Book022

To create the complete flat alloy floor, again I would do it so much differently again.

Book023

But thats how you learn.

Book024

I didnt draw a thing, I just freestyled the entire build.

Book025

Things really developed in front of me.

Book026

I could never see the progress, always looking for the next job and never back at what I had done.

Book027

But I loved looking at it, I loved how it went together.

Book029

Each component, small to large incorporated a lot of the detail I loved.

Book030

Colours were chosen and splashes of red were thrown through the suspension joints.

Book031

It complemented the weld bleed, the grain in the steel and the brightness of the alloy.

Book032

I wanted to do so much but retain the smoothness of the overall finish.

Book034

With a mock up session over it was time for another strip down, this was a monthly event, the jig became a table.

Book035

The welds continued to flow, late into the nights.

Book036

Whole weeks could be poured into small items and then never used in the finished product.

Book037

The smaller items started to find their place.

Book038

Then once again it would slowly become a car again.

Book039

Spacious areas became cramped, brackets became more complex.

Book040

But the look just became more and more exciting.

Book041

I could start to see the finished product.

Book042

Getting air in and out of the motor, out of the engine bay and clear of the car was a challenging role.

Book043

But done with the up most care.

Book046

With the finishing touches well planned out.

Book047

When a colour had to be added I made sure it was the right shade.

Book048

I made sure it was the right fit.

Book049

The results were astonishing.

Book044

I searched for solutions at every roadblock.

Book045

I called in help when it was needed.

Book051

It came with a smile and 2 of the nicest people called my place home for 10 days.

Book052

Bringing life to a machine that I created.

Book053

Executed in a way so that the entire world could learn from their actions.

Book054

In just 8 days 3 years of work became a number on a screen.

Book056

With some small town help I managed to send those numbers to the pavement.

Book058

Out of the garage and into the unknown.

Book059

The moment I had been waiting for.

Book061

Just a press of the button away.

Book062

Nerves, excitement, pressure and stress.

Book063

Followed by pure enjoyment.

Book064

And a sense of achievement.

Book066

Back home and the job wasnt done.

Book067

Lists as long as my arm, jobs that still needed to be completed.

Book068

In and out of the garage.

Book069

I just couldn’t stop looking at it.

Book071

Or driving it.

Book072

Or towing it.

Book073

I even made a hardlid that I have never used.

Book076

And just like that it was stripped again.

Book074

The oil system was spill free, a huge positive when its apart so often.

Book075

The clear powdercoat was tested on my BMX, I ran it for a few months and loved it, the decision was made.

Book087

Washed down with thinners, 3 years of rust prevention paid off.

Book079

Back from the powdercoaters.

Book082

It was perfect.

Book086

Rear subframe.

Book084

Front frame.

Book083

Air intake.

Book090

Suspension.

Book091

All got the powdercoat flow.

Book088

And just like that another chapter begun.

Book092

Parts were cleaned, finished and sub assemblies created.

Book093

The finer details started to appear.

Book095

The mechanical beauty was apparent.

Book096

The cleanest of clean.

Book097

In one night I loaded all the parts into my trailer.

Book099

And spent 24 hours assembling it in a warehouse, nearly 3 full days without sleep.

Book098

Running on adrenaline.

Book102

And some good company.

Book104

Back home and time to make it work.

Book106

It was only a button away.

Book108

Release the air.

Book107

Say goodbye to the rear tyres.

Book109

Time to turn some laps.

Book110

Its perfect.

Book111

Euphoria.

Book113

Followed by more work.

Book114

Luck, timing, money.

Book115

Transmission art.

Book116

When two.

Book117

Become one again.

Book118

Testing in front of crowds, stress, anxiety, enjoyment and relief.

Book121

Prepare.

Book119

And pack.

Book124

For another country.

Book127

Where the following and acceptance was overwhelming.

Book128

Drive.

Book130

Fix.

DSC_3118

And repeat.

Book129

The helmet becomes home for a day.

DSC_3376

To protect the vision and the future.

DSC_3202

To cement itself in the history books.

Book133

And head for home.

Book134

Back to where it began.

Book138

And be involved in the biggest events.

Book140

To wait for the next.