Pipe Dream

Words and pictures by Words and pictures by Willem Kotze

I used to build motorcycles as a young boy. As time went by my passion for making things from scratch grew stronger and stronger and the projects I attempted got bigger and bigger. Eventually, after dreaming about building a pipe car 4x4 for nearly 10 years, I finally got cracking on the design.

The project started in August ‘09 when I was still working as a steel 
merchant – needless to say the matter of material supply was not my biggest concern. My plan was to build a workhorse 4x4 with lots of cabin and load space so I used an ‘00 Hilux as my dimension platform, copying the bakkie’s approximate measurements. The design / drawing process took me a 
month to complete and when I was finally done I had a basic extended cab design that I was very happy with. Unfortunately, when it came to actually building the project, I had a slight hiccup in that I knew nothing about metal welding … I had to learn fast.

I First built the cab portion of the vehicle and then made my way to the loadbin. I used round steel tube (48 x 2 mm), angle iron and 1.2 and 1.6 mm mild steel sheets for the body, frame and chassis components. I got my hands on a wrecked ‘98 Nissan Hardbody DC which I used for spares. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could use from the Nissan except the front and rear suspension members, the steering column and four rims and tyres.  e engine and gearbox were a mess but I used these items as a design template for the chassis layout and construction. I used coil springs upfront and ditched the torsion bars. What’s more, I mounted coil springs above the rear leaf spring packs for added li and increased suspension  rmness. I also  tted an extra leaf spring below the control arms; this was mounted parallel with the axle and served as an anti-roll bar for increased rigidity. I painted the body panels red and included several thick layers of stone chip undercoat.

It took me another year to source other bits and pieces for the project. I got a VG30 engine from Boston Jap Tech and a gearbox from a local spares shop. I sourced the fuel management system from a local agent but they ripped me o by charging me R6 000 for a system that didn’t work as well as promised. In the end I got another ECU from Spitronics (Boksburg), a company I would happily recommend to anyone. A friend, Jaco Henning, helped me setup up the engine’s timing and the connection of the TPS. Soon a er that the VG30 engine roared to life like a Namibian desert lion. I later  tted two exhaust headers (banana branches) and a 63 mm free- ow exhaust. I  nally completed the project in January ‘12. It took a little longer than I expected, but I have no regrets. I met many interesting and like-minded enthusiasts during the build process, but most importantly, I learnt valuable lessons that I’ll soon apply to future projects. Firstly, don’t get bogged down by the details – the best way to start a daunting task is with the  rst step, the second will automatically follow. Secondly, be very careful where you source parts from. Always shop around – you’ll be surprised how much money you can save!

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