Monthly Archives: September 2012

At Truck Jungle, we love pickup trucks no matter where they come from. And when you’ve got something big you need to tow – like, really big – there’s some huge hard-working trucks made in the USA by Ford, GM and Dodge that dwarf all other pickups for physical size and outright hauling and towing ability.

They call them ‘Heavy Duty’ because they are designed to haul big payloads and tow really heavy stuff like huge caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, motor boats, horse floats, industrial plant equipment and even car transporters. There’s nothing like these trucks made anywhere else in the world.

Chevrolet’s 2013 competitor in the Big Three’s Heavy Duty (HD) class is the Silverado HD range that comprises two models – 2500HD and 3500HD.

Now entering its third year in production, the Silverado HD breed is available in three trim levels – WT, LT and LTZ – in either 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains.

A total of 10 x 2500HD models and eight x 3500HD models are available, in a choice of single or dual rear wheels and Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab styles.

Unfortunately, these magnificent US-built trucks are not available in RHD form through the Australian arm of GM (Holden) like the smaller Colorado one-tonne pickup.

However, if you really want one, they can be purchased locally through a variety of importers/RHD conversion specialists.

Heavy Duty

There’s a good reason why they call these trucks Heavy Duty. Get a load of these performance figures and you’ll know they aren’t kidding.

The 2500HD has a maximum payload of more than 1.9 tonnes and a conventional (braked) towing capacity of just under 5.9 tonnes. That towing capacity increases to more than 8.0 tonnes when towing a fifth-wheeler trailer (ie with a turn-table coupling mounted on the tray floor).

The 3500HD has a best-in-class maximum payload of just under 3.3 tonnes and a best-in-class conventional (braked) towing capacity a tad under 8.2 tonnes. That towing capacity increases to a best-in-class, gob-smacking 10.5 tonnes with a fifth-wheeler hooked up behind.

Engines & Transmissions

There’s two engines available – the 6.0 litre petrol-powered Vortec V8 that’s standard across the HD range and the top-shelf 6.6 litre turbo diesel Duramax V8 torque monster available on both 2500HD and 3500HD models.

The Vortec 6.0 litre petrol V8 features variable valve timing and is matched with GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission. This combo, which is factory-rated at 268kW (360 bhp) and 515Nm (380 ft/lbs) of torque, is designed to deliver very strong low rpm performance and is more than adequate for most hauling and towing needs.

New for 2013 is a bi-fuel version of the Vortec V8 (engine code LC8) with hardened valves and valve seats that allow it to run on either petrol or cheaper compressed natural gas (CNG).

Using CNG comes with two penalties, though. There’s a huge gas tank mounted behind the cab that eats into the load space and power drops from 268kW to 225kW and torque drops from 515Nm to 452Nm.

Above and below: Huge factory-fitted CNG tank takes a fair bite out of the pickup's load carrying space.

If you want the ultimate in pulling power (and bragging rights no doubt), you can’t top the awesome Duramax 6.6 litre turbo-diesel V8 which pumps out 296kW (397 bhp) at 3000 rpm and 1037Nm (765 ft/lbs) of torque at just 1600 rpm! It also features a full exhaust brake system and can run on bio-diesel fuel blends up to B20.

The Duramax turbo-diesel is matched to an equally robust Allison 1000 six-speed automatic. This big truck transmission features full manual driver control when required, with tap up/tap down shifting and a specific tow/haul mode that reduces shift cycling for better control and improved cooling when towing or hauling really heavy loads (LTZ trim level shown below).

Chassis & Suspension

The 2013 Silverado HD’s massive box-framed chassis comes in 18 different configurations to suit all the different model options. Big four wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard across the range.

Front suspension uses torsion bars instead of coil springs, available in four different weight ratings offering front gross axle weights up to 2.54 tonnes. This enables attachments like snow ploughs to be used on all 4×4 cab configurations in conjunction with the factory ‘Snow Plough Prep’ package (not much use for this in sunny Australia!)

What might interest Aussie buyers is factory option RPO Z71, which is an off road suspension package available on LT and LTZ models. This includes heavy duty shock absorbers, bigger bump stops, thicker front stabiliser bar and skid plate package.

The frame-mounted tow bar used for conventional towing has a massive steel box-tube design that can safely support up to 8.2 tonnes!

On single rear wheel models, this is matched to the Trailer Sway Control System that senses trailer sway and automatically intervenes with braking and/or reduced engine power to bring the trailer under control.

Single rear wheel models also benefit from Hill Start Assist which automatically engages when sensors detect that the vehicle is on a grade of about 5.0 per cent or greater. It holds the brakes for about 1.5 seconds or until the throttle pedal is pushed, preventing rollback.

This is particularly useful when towing because it gives the driver time to switch from the brake pedal to the throttle pedal without rolling. Single rears also benefit from Chevy’s electronic stability control system.

Weights & Measures

The raw dimensions of these Chevy super trucks are hard to fathom, particularly the top-shelf Duramax turbo-diesel in the Crew Cab Long Box configuration – the biggest of the Silverado breed.

With an expansive wheelbase of 4.26 metres, overall length of just under 6.6 metres and more than 2.0 metres wide, this behemoth is king of any road you drive it on. And with a massive kerb weight just under 3.4 tonnes, you certainly wouldn’t want to get in its way! TJ

Land Rover is more than a world-famous 4×4 brand – it’s an institution. For what was conceived in the 1940s as a stop-gap measure to help Rover Cars recover from its post-World War II blues, the Land Rover was launched in 1948 and quickly became a global success story and a huge export earner for the UK car maker.

This short video details the early days of this iconic 4×4 truck, from the austerity and severe shortage of raw materials in post-war England to its rapid expansion into a staggering number of export markets.

The Land Rover’s quite brilliant versatility is shown here, too, as it has been modified and adapted over the decades to serve in a huge variety of roles (love the portable saw mill being driven by the PTO).

We’ll always have a soft spot for the Landy, which noted author Graham Robson called the ‘Workhorse of the World’. Along with the Jeep CJ-2A and WDX Dodge Power Wagon, the Land Rover laid the global foundation that all post-war civilian 4x4s were built on.

The wild balloon-tyred Toyota pickups built by Arctic Trucks International in Iceland are famous for their off-road prowess in freezing snow and ice, but as you’ll see here they’re equally unstoppable on soft sand.

Truck Jungle had its first look at Arctic Trucks late last year here and we promised you’d be seeing more of them. We really like these trucks because they are designed and hand-built to meet extreme off-road requirements and they always perform brilliantly in those roles.

These are the same guys that built the bright red Toyota Hilux that starred in BBC Television’s Top Gear Polar Challenge in 2007, when show hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May in the Hilux prevailed over Richard Hammond (on a dog-drawn sled!) in a race to the Magnetic North Pole.

Arctic Trucks was founded in 1990 when Toyota Iceland started modifying 4×4 pickups for very specialised off-road applications.

The company now operates independently from Toyota Iceland and has expanded its operation into Norway in recent years. It also now assists other truck brands requiring such special modifications to suit a variety of off-road needs.

And despite their aggressive appearance, these AT44 models running the biggest 44-inch tall rubber are actually designed to minimise damage to the environment because their huge, low pressure, high flotation tyres roll right over the top of the terrain instead of through it.

This video clip shot in 2010 shows the effortless dune-driving ability of a Toyota Hilux, modified by Arctic Trucks to run the huge 44-inch tall balloon tyres at extremely low pressures.

This pickup truck’s combined footprint is so wide and the tyre pressures so low (look for ripples in the tyre sidewalls under power) that it just rolls right across the top of these hot, drifting sands in South Africa. And this was just before it headed off to tackle the snow and ice of Antarctica! TJ

This is an awesome truck. The MY2013 version of the world’s ultimate OEM high performance off-road pickup is just starting to hit showroom floors in the US, along with the latest F-150 model on which it is based.

And it’s at around this time each year, when companies start releasing their latest US models, that Aussie pickup truck fans curse the fact we live in a country that drives on the other side of the road!

Produced at Ford’s truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the latest Raptor (available only in LHD of course) differs little from the proven formula established in previous models, with its powerful petrol-fed 6.2 litre SOHC V8 and supple, long travel suspension.

It’s a unique design inspired by the ‘pre-runner’ trucks used by off-road racing teams for rapid reconnaissance of race courses like the Baja 1000 before the event is held. And we reckon this big beast would be right at home thundering along the Birdsville Track, too.

Major changes for MY2013 include new forged 17-inch aluminium rims (as shown above) which can be retro-fitted with a Ford Racing bead-lock ring kit, to keep the tyre beads in place when running low pressures in rugged off-road situations from rock crawling to high speed desert running.

2013 Raptor also gets a pair of High Intensity Discharge (HID) head lights for improved night vision and there’s better driver connectivity too that includes hands-free voice commands and optional 8.0-inch touch screen.


The Raptor comes in two body styles – the original SuperCab with 3385mm wheelbase or the SuperCrew (crew-cab) with longer 3688mm wheelbase.

Based on the conventional F-150 series, the Raptor distinguishes itself with a bold and intricate mesh grille design with the Ford name integrated across the centre.

It also has different front bumper, fascia and front mudguards, functional heat extractor vents on the bonnet, massive front under-body skid plate and big wheel arch flares. Design elements extend inside to the unique interior trim (2012 model shown below).


The F-150 SVT Raptor first appeared in 2010 and has quickly become a premium-priced big hitter for Ford dealers.

It was developed by SVT (Special Vehicle Team), Ford’s high performance arm established in 1993 which is also responsible these days for the Blue Oval’s hottest Mustang offerings.

The iron block, short stroke 6.2 litre V8 is a proper truck engine with grunt to burn, boasting best-in-class 411bhp (306 kW) @ 5500 rpm and a thumping 434 ft/lbs (586Nm) of torque at 4500rpm. Two-valve SOHC aluminium heads feature variable valve timing, twin spark plugs per cylinder and 9.8:1 compression.

This muscle motor will run on all grades of unleaded fuel including E85, but like the all-out racing trucks on which it is based, it doesn’t mind a drink either. Factory figures for city use are 21.3 L/100 kms (!) which improves to a more affordable 14.7 L/100 kms on the highway.

Transmission & Drivetrain

The Raptor’s 6R140 heavy duty ‘TorqShift’ six-speed automatic transmission was developed to cope with the huge low-end torque from Ford’s big Power Stroke V8 turbo-diesels, so is well suited to this application.

With advanced electronic control, the driver can use full automatic, full manual shift, off-road mode or tow/haul mode. It also has shift-on-the-fly selection of 4×2 and 4×4 and the 6R140 unit even has a power take off (PTO) provision available to run auxiliary equipment.

Premium traction is paramount. In 2012 Raptor was upgraded with a Torsen front LSD which juggles available traction between the two front wheels. If the left front wheel loses traction, the system forces traction to the right front wheel and vice versa. The rear diff can also be fully locked with the flick of a switch when the going gets tough (2012 model shown below).

Chassis & Suspension

Body-on-frame with twin-wishbones/coil springs on the front and leaf springs/live rear axle at the back. Raptor features 35-inch tall all-terrain tyres and a 178mm wider track than the standard F-150, using unique SVT cast-aluminium front control arms and other tweaks to deliver a generous 285mm front travel and 307mm of travel in the rear.

The shock absorbers are competition-derived FOX Racing Shox with internal triple bypass dampening. In simple terms, this oil valving system allows the shock to become stiffer as it travels, to prevent the suspension from bottoming out over big jumps.

Steering is hydraulic rack and pinion and the ventilated four wheel disc brakes are large and powerful, with 13.8-inch rotors up front and 13.7-inchers on the back.


Raptor features the excellent Hill Descent Control shared with the PX Ford Ranger. And there’s a heap of other passive and safety features including ABS, Roll Stability Control, Trailer Sway Control, factory-installed Integrated Trailer Brake Controller, Safety Canopy System, dual-stage front airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and advanced anti-theft features.

Speed Camera

There’s a small camera mounted in the grille to improve the driver’s forward visibility when climbing over rocks and other steep obstacles that might be obscured by the bonnet of the truck.

If you’ve ever driven something like an F series truck up a steep climb with a sharp drop-off on the other side, you’ll know the value of this camera because without it all the driver can see in front of him is a vast expanse of bonnet.

The camera transmits the image via the dash-mounted LCD screen. A washer function helps keep the camera’s field of vision clear in wet or muddy conditions (see video clip).

Weights & Measures

The Raptor is a really big truck, with a kerb weight of 2724 kgs and overall length of almost 5.6 metres for the SuperCab. That kerb weight steps up to 2812 kgs for the SuperCrew, which is almost 6.0 metres long from bumper to bumper.

The SuperCab will tow more than 2.7 tonnes and the SuperCrew more than 3.6 tonnes. If those figures sound conservative for such a big grunter, it gives an insight into the softer spring rates required for the supple long-travel suspension designed primarily for rapid travel in great comfort across all types of terrain.

In other words, in typical SVT fashion, this is a no-compromise high performance variant designed more for go than tow, even though it can do both with ease.

How much?

Ford US quotes a retail price starting at USD$43,340 (they sell them for less than that of course) which given the current parity of the Aussie dollar with the greenback gives you some idea of this truck’s relative value.

Check out the promotional video clip below that was made for the 2012 model launch. It’s basically the same as the 2013 model, so have a listen for the melodious throb of that big V8 doing its thing.

You’ll notice one problem though – they’ve got the steering wheel on the wrong side! How on earth did they get that so wrong? TJ


Nissan has released full details of its all-new Y62 Patrol truck wagon not due for release in Australia until January 2013.

Word is the delay is due to hot demand for the new Patrol in larger LHD markets, which has pushed smaller RHD markets like Australia down the waiting list.

Nissan claims it is the most luxurious and technically advanced Nissan ever offered in Australia.

A new chassis platform, hydraulic chassis control system, four-wheel independent suspension, V8 engine, seven-speed automatic, multi-mode 4×4 system and increased emphasis on luxury defines the latest generation Patrol.

However, Nissan will continue to sell the previous generation Y61 wagon – with its 3.0 litre six cylinder turbo-diesel engine and live axles front and back – alongside the new Y62, to offer Patrol buyers a less luxurious back-to-basics model at a more affordable price.

The new Patrol, which can carry up to eight passengers with its three rows of seats, is loaded with stacks of active and passive safety features and a plethora of luxury items as standard equipment, aimed at the premium end of the luxury SUV buyer market (ie Land Cruiser, Range Rover etc).

We’ll cover all the luxury bling in more details when one becomes available for testing. In the meantime, here’s all the main highlights:


The sixth generation Patrol is built at Nissan’s new Shatai Kyusha factory in Japan. Nissan engineers tested 200 prototypes at the company’s Motegi, Oppama and Tochigi proving grounds in Japan before sending them to The Middle East and Australia for real world evaluations.

Nissan claims its Japanese engineers completed more than 13,000 hours of testing across The Middle East and Australia, showing the importance of these two markets for this model.


Y62 comes in three trim levels – ST-L (under $85,000), Ti (under $95,000) and Ti-L (under $115,000).


New generation 5.6 litre petrol V8 engine (code VK56VD) is an over-square, all-aluminium, DOHC, 32-valve, VVT design built at Nissan’s Yokohama plant.

It delivers 298Kw @ 5800rpm and 560Nm @ 4000rpm, with more than 90 percent of that torque (or more than 500Nm) on tap from just 2500rpm.

298Kw is about 400bhp on the old scale which is plenty of power and with 500Nm of torque (more than 400 ft/lbs) available at such low revs, it stacks up as a very tractable power plant.

Yet despite its power and torque gains over the previous Y61 model’s 4.8 litre six cylinder petrol engine, it’s a lot more fuel efficient when matched to the new seven-speed auto (14.5 L/100 kms vs 17.2 L/100 kms).


A new seven-speed automatic with manual shift option should make it a nicer drive and particularly good for towing, with a broader spread of close ratios to play with and manually hold when you find the right one for a steep climb or descent.

There’s full-time 4WD with a choice of High and Low range of course, plus Limited Slip Diff (with full diff lock mode when needed), Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. There’s no mechanical central diff this time – drive is fed to the front diff through an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch.

The new ‘ALL MODE 4×4’ drive system is controlled via a circular knob located just behind the auto gearshift, allowing the driver to electronically choose between four drive modes including sand, rock, snow or on-road driving.

The central knob also controls selection of 4H or 4L, activation of the rear diff lock, Vehicle Dynamic Control on/off and Hill Descent Control.

The only thing that looks a bit odd about this shifter arrangement (above) is that it’s located on the left-hand side of the console, which you would think is better suited to a LHD configuration than RHD. We’ll only know if this is an ergonomic problem once we’ve had a drive, but on the face of it this looks like another case of majority rules.

Chassis & Suspension

Suspension is now fully independent upper and lower wishbones at all corners, hung from what Nissan describes as a new high-stiffness body-on-frame structure with larger side frame rails, stiffer body-to-frame mountings and improved NVH.

Another notable addition to the Y62 chassis dynamics is Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control, which is not available on the entry level ST-L model but standard on the higher two (Ti and Ti-L).

The HBMC system replaces conventional shock absorbers with hydraulic cylinders linked to each other through lots of piping and controlled by motion sensors.

HBMC reduces body roll in high speed corners on sealed surfaces and, because it removes the need for anti-roll bars, HBMC also maximises suspension travel in extreme off road conditions.

Nissan claims this cutting-edge technology was developed for world rallying and that this is the first time the company’s has used it in a road application.

Weights & Measures

These latest-generation truck wagons are getting seriously large – and heavy.

The new Y62 is significantly larger than its 200 series Land Cruiser competitor and its Y61 stable-mate in overall length (5140mm), width (1995mm), height (1940mm) and wheelbase (3075mm), yet manages to keep the same turning circle (Y61 12.5 metres).

And as you’d expect, all that extra size and on-board technical wizardry adds considerably to the weighbridge, with kerb weights starting at 2739 kgs for the ST-L up to 2829 kgs for the top shelf Ti-L with all the fruit.

2829 kgs is getting damn near three tonnes, which eclipses the kerb weight of even some large US pickup trucks like the Toyota Tundra and Ford F-150 SVT Raptor (see separate stories at Truck Jungle).

That’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying the kids to school in, mum, but it’s a strong point for towing big loads, as it provides a rock steady platform for its peak (braked) tow rating of 3.5 tonnes (750 kgs unbraked). TJ

*Look forward to a full road test review of the all-new Y62 Nissan Patrol soon at Truck Jungle


Ah, the 1970s. Back in those simpler times, Land Rovers were sold in Australia through Leyland which also sold Leyland tractors. So some bright spark at the advertising agency decided to combine the two as a tractor and 4×4 package designed to appeal to the man on the land.

Not sure what the agency creatives were thinking when they crafted this fine piece of theatre, but the classic Aussie slapstick routines certainly make great viewing today. This TV commercial must set some sort of record for a rag-top Land Rover getting seriously airborne, too!

Holden Overlander was proudly built in Tasmania. Note how big the island state is shown on the door!

The rare and uniquely Australian Holden Overlander 4×4 was created by Tasmanian engineer Arthur Hayward in the late 1970s, purely because he couldn’t buy an affordable new Chevy Blazer SUV or Silverado pickup in right hand drive.

During what was an unprecedented boom in the sales of recreational vehicles, Hayward was unimpressed with the rough-riding, spartan 4×4 trucks being offered to local buyers at the time, like the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol and Land Rover.

He was hankering for the more luxurious V8-powered trucks that were proving to be popular sellers in the USA’s booming RV market, like the Chevrolet Blazer and Silverado, Ford F series pickups, Dodge Ramcharger, International Scout and Jeep Cherokee.

These 4×4 vehicles offered not only smooth and plentiful V8 power, but also came loaded with all the fruit you’d expect to see in a luxury car including automatic transmission, air-conditioning, power windows, bucket seats and full carpeting.

Arthur Hayward hard at work on his Overlander prototype, based on an HJ Holden ute.

Only trouble was, Hayward worked out that by the time he had imported one of these jiggers from the US and covered all the costs associated with shipping, import duties, dealer margins and sales taxes, plus the cost of converting the vehicle from LHD to RHD, he would have been up for the modern day equivalent of around $120,000!

The only thing available in Australia that came close to what he wanted was the British-built Range Rover, but that was still the equivalent of $80,000-plus in today’s money and with serious local supply shortages and a 12-month waiting list, it wasn’t a viable option either.

So, fed up with waiting and armed with that typical Aussie ‘can do’ attitude, Hayward decided to build his own interpretation of what an Australian V8-powered luxury 4×4 should be. And what he thought like-minded Aussies would like to own.

In his home town of Launceston, Tasmania he established a well-equipped factory that operated under the name Vehicle Engineering and Modifications P/L with full ‘second manufacturer’ government certification and ADR compliance.

And it was in this workshop that “a luxurious, tough, up-market 4×4 truly deserving a place alongside the best available from overseas manufacturers” (according to Off Road Australia magazine) was born.

Hayward thoroughly tested his Overlander prototype in the Outback with a full load on board to try and find any weaknesses in his engineering package. After 8000 kms it came through without a hitch.

Being a General Motors fan, it didn’t take Hayward long to figure out the best starting point. He chose the then latest model HJ Holden ute, but not only because it was available with a 5.0 litre (308 cid) V8 engine and Turbo 400 automatic transmission.

A critical consideration was also that the HJ ute and panel van (and the longer wheelbase One Tonner) featured a traditional body-on-frame construction, with a very strong steel box-section perimeter chassis and front cross-members ideal positioned to adapt a leaf-sprung live axle assembly.

These were the two major differences between the Holden Overlander and its Ford-based predecessor, the XY Falcon 4×4 ute (see separate story at Truck Jungle). The factory-built Ford was only available with a six cylinder engine and three-speed manual gearbox and the strength of its lighter unibody construction was considered marginal for serious off-road work.

The Holden ute, though, was a natural for this type of conversion, with another bonus being that the deepest section of the V8’s sump was located at the rear of the engine and well clear of the new front diff. By comparison, the deepest section of the XY Falcon’s sump was at the front of the engine, which had created all sorts of diff clearance headaches for Ford engineers to overcome.

In the early days of Australia’s RV boom, people had an obsession with driving cars in the surf like this! It was only when they started to discover the severe damage caused by salt water that it went out of fashion. We doubt this Overlander would have survived for too long after this sort of treatment.

It must be said that the Overlander ute’s design and build quality was outstanding. With a background in heavy industrial engineering, Hayward’s chassis modifications and choice of robust mechanical components ensured generous margins in strength and durability. These vehicles were over-engineered for their task and built to last.

Hayward took no chances with chassis strength, welding 6.5mm-thick strips of steel plate along the tops of both front chassis rails, with an equally robust 63mm-square hollow-section steel cross-member welded across the front, to rigidly tie the two chassis rails together and provide solid anchorage points for the new front leaf springs.

He also re-profiled the engine cross-member for additional front axle clearance and replaced the original Holden gearbox cross-member with a much stronger one of his own design.

This was made from sturdy 100 x 50mm-square hollow-section steel with 6.5mm wall thickness, to comfortably support the additional weight of the big Dana transfer case attached to the back of the Turbo 400 transmission.

Suspension consisted of four-leaf, semi-elliptical springs front and rear. For additional load carrying capacity, the rear spring packs each had an extra progressive-overload leaf added plus a second strap around the main leaf pack for greater stability.

Interestingly, the front axle was mounted above the springs on the front and beneath the springs on the rear. The 4×4 conversion resulted in a total body lift of only 90mm, but with the much larger wheels and tyres and big fiberglass flares it appeared to be much higher than that.

Hayward’s Overlander prototype was not fitted with the wheel arch flares during its initial 8000 km Outback test. Note also the huge fuel tanks in the back to provide a decent fuel range for the big V8 engine.

The drivetrain consisted of Holden’s 308 cid (5.0 litre) L31 V8, specified with the factory’s heavy-duty radiator option with integral engine and transmission cooling.  Factory rated at 161kW @ 4800rpm and a very torquey 400Nm at 3100 rpm, it was ideally suited to the rigours of off-road work and a multitude of towing jobs.

The Turbo 400 auto with standard torque converter was the only transmission offered, as Hayward did his sums early in the piece and figured out that the gearing of GM’s four-speed manual transmission was too high in the lower cogs for this application.

The TH400 was also very robust and delivered great smoothness in power delivery, which proved beneficial in off road driving and a breeze for heavy towing. It was also available as either a T-bar floorshift or with a column-mounted shifter, depending on the donor Holden model chosen.

Transfer case was a two-speed Dana M20 unit, with manual shifting between high and low range and 4×2 and 4×4 using floor-mounted levers.

Hayward didn’t compromise on axle strength either, opting for a big Dana 44 front axle assembly with a 3000 lb (4050Nm) peak load rating and a set of free-wheeling hubs. Under the rear was an even stronger Dana 60, with a higher 3500 lb (4725Nm) load rating. Front and rear tail-shafts were also supplied by Dana.

These immensely strong drivetrain assemblies were used in many of the US off-road vehicles at the time which Hayward was emulating with the Overlander and represented a whopping 75 per cent increase in axle strength over the Holden ute’s standard Borg Warner diff.

Hayward could not fault the performance of his Overlander prototype, which gave him the confidence to proceed with full production of the vehicles for sale through a select group of Holden dealers.

The Dana assemblies were also supplied with big power-assisted disc brakes on the front and heavy-duty drums on the rear, that were both larger and more powerful than the standard 2WD Holden hardware.

Hayward also specified the Dana 60 at the back due its equal-length axles and central diff location, which provided an ideal straight line of power delivery through engine, transmission, transfer case, tail-shaft and diff.

Hayward credited this design for the Overlander’s remarkably quiet operation on the highway, with an internal decibel reading only marginally above the standard 2WD ute figure.

This was because when driven in 2WD mode, the drive went directly from the transmission to the tail-shaft which allowed the transfer case gears to sit idle, as opposed to many other 4WD vehicles with unequal-length axles and offset diffs that had to be driven through the noisy offset transfer case gears.

15 x 8-inch white powder-coated steel spoke wheels came standard with a set of 15 x 10 National XT Commando tyres, shrouded in hefty fiberglass wheel arch flares which attached to the body with a series of exposed hex-head screws.

It may have looked pretty crude, but in Hayward’s typically pragmatic assessment, it made removing and replacing these vulnerable items an easy task if they were damaged.

A rare beast. Hayward produced only six Overlanders based on the HZ One Tonner.

The standard equipment list was huge and way beyond what was being offered in rival 4x4s at the time. Hayward’s claim that the Overlander was “the 4WD with the options built-in” was certainly credible.

Combined with all the creature comforts that came with the Holden donor vehicle like V8 engine, T-bar auto shift, power steering/brakes/windows, carpets, full instrumentation, bucket seats etc, each Overlander was also equipped with a generous package of VEM-supplied equipment.

In addition to the white-spoke wheels, off-road tyres and wheel flares mentioned earlier, the Overlander buyer also got a front nudge bar, roll bar (only on utes), tow bar, mud flaps and a spare set of Dana axles and front and rear diff assemblies – as if you’d ever need them.

Each genuine Overlander produced by Hayward was also fitted with its own ID plate mounted on the passenger side firewall right next to Holden’s factory ID plate. These hand-engraved plates displayed the manufacturer’s name, ADR compliance details and the vehicle’s production number.

GM-H was so impressed with the quality of Hayward’s work, the company agreed to honour its new car factory warranty (12 months/20,000 kms) on all new Overlanders sold, if Hayward took responsibility for any components he had changed or modified.

It was, in effect, a split new car warranty between GM-H and VEM and according to Hayward they never had one customer claim made between them.

Overlander panel vans were a popular and practical choice, particularly for tradesmen wanting rugged off road capability and good towing power combined with lockable storage space for their tools and equipment. This shot was taken during a Modern Motor magazine test in 1977.

The first ‘production’ Holden Overlander utes and panel vans went on sale in early 1977, available brand new through selected Holden dealers or as a conversion performed on a new customer vehicle personally supplied to VEM.

They were produced in a variety of models including utes (HJ/HX/HZ), panel vans (HJ/HX/HZ), One Tonners (HZ only) and later on a station wagon variant (HZ only) which proved so  popular Hayward could not keep up with demand.

Conversion of a station wagon was more time consuming, as it lacked the full length perimeter frame and leaf-sprung rear end of the commercial models. Instead, the wagon shared the sedan’s coil spring/semi-trailing arm rear suspension arrangement, with a shortened perimeter frame which finished at a point beneath the wagon’s rear seat.

To overcome this hurdle, Hayward produced a typically robust solution using welded 6.5mm thick steel plate and square hollow-section steel tube to create a complete new square-shaped sub-frame that was fully MIG welded underneath the rear of the Holden body shell.

This arrangement was tank-tough and more than strong enough to support the leaf-sprung Dana rear end and heavy-duty tow bar. The wagon proved to be a very capable and comfortable off roader particularly for family buyers and the most versatile of all the Overlander models.

In US terms, the Overlander wagon perhaps mirrored the gargantuan Chevrolet Suburban large SUV available at the time and was arguably a more practical vehicle given its more compact dimensions.

HZ Overlander station wagon was an instant hit with buyers, creating huge demand. It featured on the cover of the long-out-of-print Off Road Australia magazine. The end of the HZ model line in early 1980 also caused the premature death of the Overlander wagon.

So what happened to the Holden Overlander? It was killed off by a combination of government red tape, crippling delays in shipments of Dana components from the US (as Ford experienced with the XY 4×4) and ultimately the end of HZ model production in early 1980.

The end of the HZ model line of course meant the end of the station wagon, which had become Hayward’s biggest seller.

He could have continued producing Overlanders based on the new WB commercial line, but could not see a big future for the brand with only utes, panel vans and One Tonners available against the growing popularity of much cheaper one-tonne trucks from Japan.

Only 120 Holden Overlanders were built by Arthur Hayward, 80 of which were produced at his VEM factory from 1977 to 1980. These comprised 20 utes (HJ/HX/HZ including his HJ prototype), 30 panel vans (HJ/HX/HZ), 24 station wagons (HZ only) and only six One Tonners (HZ only).

After Hayward shut up shop in 1980, he returned to the business of building Holden Overlanders from 1982 to 1989 using a large workshop beneath his home.

Although no formal production records were kept, Hayward was confident (during an interview conducted in 2007) that his estimate of another 40 vehicles being produced during this time was accurate.

Hence the figure we’ve quoted here of 120 vehicles produced by Arthur Hayward, which makes them an extremely rare Holden model and a very collectible Australian classic. TJ

*Images and technical/production information courtesy Arthur Hayward

2010-2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax limited Platinum

Toyota’s contender in the hotly contested US pickup truck market – Tundra – will soon be available in ADR-certified right hand drive through Australian importer/conversion specialist Performax International.

Toyota’s ‘Hilux on steroids’ has recently completed a lengthy re-engineering program by the Queensland-based firm, to ensure that its RHD conversion meets all Australian Design Rules (ADR) requirements and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) benchmarks for design, engineering and finish.

Four prototypes of the RHD ‘Aussie’ Tundra were built during this certification procedure, as the Gympie-based company has a production-line manufacturing process using standardised RHD components designed, developed and manufactured by Performax.

This includes the complex electronic systems in these trucks, which control a myriad of engine, transmission, safety and interior functions.

MY2010-2103 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Limited Platinum

Performax is going where Toyota Australia cannot go with this big US import, even though Australia’s No.1 car brand would like to given this truck’s obvious appeal to a niche market.

Toyota advised Truck Jungle that given the relatively small volume sales this vehicle would attract, the costs associated with local R&D to re-engineer the Tundra for RHD, plus national training of its service personnel, national parts inventory, special workshop tooling, warranty provisions etc, does not present a viable business case.

Toyota’s pragmatic assessment gives you some idea of the huge task Performax has taken on in Toyota’s absence and why these vehicles take a lot of time and money to re-engineer to a high standard. And why those substantial development costs need to be recouped in the hefty six-figure sale prices.

MY2010-2103 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Limited Platinum

Performax backs its RHD vehicles with its own four- year/120,000 km warranty plus a 24/7 Roadside Assistance Package provided by Alliance (formerly Mondial/WorldCare).

The top shelf RHD Tundra which most customers are interested in is the CrewMax Limited Platinum model, with a luxury specification comparable to the Lexus LX570. Depending on exchange rates, it is expected to be around $116,000 plus on-road costs.

Alternative models available will be the Double Cab Limited (similar to VX Land Cruiser specs) for approx. $112,000 plus on-roads and the SR-5 (similar to Hilux SR-5 specs) for around $105-110,000 plus on-roads, available as either CrewMax or Double Cab.

Performax can supply these models ex-stock or provide the same quality conversions for customer-imported vehicles.

Tundra’s high-tech all-aluminium 5.7 litre i-FORCE petrol V8

Crew Cab to the Max

The premium level CrewMax Limited Platinum sets the bar pretty high when it comes to performance, quality and features.

It’s powered by Toyota’s all-aluminium, 5.7 litre i-FORCE V8, with dual overhead cams, 32 valves and (in Toyota speak) “Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence” or VVTi.

This simply means that the overlap between the opening and closing of inlet and exhaust valves automatically varies according to driving conditions, for optimum power and fuel economy.

This high-tech petrol V8 produces 284kW @ 5600 rpm with a 543Nm truck-load of torque at 3600rpm, coupled to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission (ECTi) which also doesn’t lack for intelligence with sequential shift mode and uphill/downhill shift logic.

A dedicated TOW/HAUL mode is also available for those vehicles equipped with the factory-option Tow Package (see The Big Tow).

Tundra’s 4WDEMAND part-time 4×4 system features an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and an Automatic Limited Slip Differential (Auto LSD).

The Limited Platinum’s 20-inch alloy wheels are steered through a hydraulic rack and pinion. Front suspension uses coil-sprung upper and lower wishbones, with the usual multi-leaf springs and live rear axle with staggered shocks at the rear. Brakes are big, ventilated four wheel discs.

Dynamic safety features including tyre pressure monitors and what Toyota calls its ‘Star Safety System’. This includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Smart Stop Technology (SST) and Trailer Sway Control, plus front and rear park assist sensors.

Performax RHD prototype aims to meet OEM standards of engineering quality and finish.

The sumptuous luxury of the CrewMax Limited Platinum interior is what the Americans do so well and where Tundra owners feels like they’re flying at the front end of the plane. The Crew Cab is huge in every dimension, with enough head, hip, leg and shoulder room to resemble a flight lounge on wheels.

Big front seats are leather trimmed and power adjustable with memory function, lumbar support and internal heating and cooling. The rear seat is also covered in cowhide and adjustable in recline and fore/aft, plus it can fold down into a large flat floor to provide extra carry space when no rear seating is required.

CrewMax Limited Platinum rear seat can be folded flat to create a large additional floor area. Check out the huge amount of leg room, even with those big headrests blocking part of it.

There’s also a SAT NAV computer, Bluetooth compatibility and JBL 12-speaker sound system with multi-stack CD player, MP3/WMA and USB with iPod connectivity.

Plus there’s dual zone climate control, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry, auto-dimming rear view mirror with reversing camera display, plus powered door mirrors with power fold function, slide and tilt moon roof and a power rear window that slides down vertically for full open air access to the load area.

Passive safety features include driver and front passenger airbags, seat-mounted side airbags and knee airbags, plus front and rear roll-sensing side curtain airbags.

The Big Tow: An American tradition

This is one big mother of a 4×4 pickup truck with a kerb weight of 2.55 tonnes, generous 3700mm wheelbase and the ability to tow more than 4.0 tonnes.

By comparison, typical one-tonne pickups sold in Australia these days weigh about 2.0 tonnes, with wheelbase lengths around 3000mm and 3.0-3.5 tonne braked towing capacity.

With an overall height of 1930mm, width of 2029mm and length of 5808mm, the CrewMax’s physical dimensions dwarf its non-USA rivals.

However, for all that physical bulk the CrewMax’s load floor dimensions are comparatively modest at 1694mm long and 1686mm wide, with 1270mm between the wheel housings.

Payload is 623 kgs with the Tow Package installed and 714 kgs without it, which is obviously about 400 kgs less than the 1100 kgs+ payload rating of those same Asian and European pickups compared earlier.

But that is due primarily to the extra 500 kgs found in the massive 2.5 tonne architecture and drivetrain of this 4×4 truck, which is designed to provide a rock solid road anchor when towing really heavy things over long distances like caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, horse floats and power boats.

This is where these big US pickups are really in their element, as their combination of high kerb weights, long wheelbases, huge cabins and big tow hitches – tucked in nice and close to the rear wheels – provide unmatched stability, safety and comfort.

We mentioned the Tow Package earlier. This factory-installed option is a comprehensive bit of kit and popular in the US, comprising tow hitch, pre-wiring for a trailer brake controller, lower 4.3:1 rear axle ratio, TOW/HAUL  mode interior switch, transmission fluid temperature gauge, supplementary engine and transmission coolers, heavy duty battery, 170-amp alternator and 7-pin connector.

In any case, even without the Tow Package, the Tundra CrewMax can comfortably pull 3492 kgs or just under 3.5 tonnes (braked). With the Tow Package installed, that increases to more than 4.0 tonnes (4082 kgs).

No details yet if this factory option will be available on the RHD Powermax versions, but if people are buying these things specifically for long haul towing jobs, it would probably make sense.

In any case, we look forward to seeing these Performax Tundras hitting Australian roads soon and hearing some feedback from owners about their performance. TJ

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