Custom and modified

Custom car: LS3 powered V8 Patrol

Would you like a 6.2L V8 powered Nissan Patrol GU on 37″ tyres?

NISSAN PATROLS have rightly earned their place in Australia’s offroading history, but they didn’t get there by being overpowered. In fact, neither the 4.2L or 3.0L diesel were exactly a rocketship as standard, and that was before you modified the car which inevitably meant more weight and drag. But the old 4.8L petrol was pretty decent, and back in the day Nissan even ran advertisements pointing out that its 185kW engine was the most powerful on the market. How times change!

But lack of power can be fixed, particularly in a GU Patrol which is simple, lacks modern electronics, has a big engine bay and a strong, robust drivetrain. And that’s why Phill Beurteaux’s 2002 GU Patrol has the much-admired Chevy LS3 V8 6.2L engine, same as used from an HSV Maloo, along with its 6L08E six-speed automatic gearbox.

The LS engines is a popular aftermarket swap for all sorts of vehicles, even to the point where there’s memes about it:

This motor was supplied as a ‘crate’ engine, direct from the factory. Phill says it “just needed to use the Marks  4WD Adaptor kits for the engine to be mounted and also to allow the Holden 6l80E gearbox to be mounted to the factory Nissan transfer case. All the tail shafts are the factory Nissan 3ltr manual ones including the gearbox cross member.” The engine has an alloy block, so despite having twice as many cylinders and less than half the displacement of the original 4-cylinder diesel, it’s probably lighter – helped by the fact there’s no turbo or intercooler either.

That’s quite a difference to the original 5-speed manual and 3.0L diesel, which made 116kW and 354Nm of torque. The LS3 is good for around 317 kW at 6000 rpm and 550 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm according to the stock figures, and Phill’s machine has Genie extractors (headers), a 3inch diameter stainless steel exhaust with single sports muffler and two cats.

These modifications don’t increase power as such, but they do make it easier for the engine to move exhaust gases out of the cylinders so there’s less power lost in the exhaust process, which means more at the wheels.  Oh, and the exhaust note isn’t bad either!  And Phill has made it easier to for the engine to suck in are, saying “I’ve also got a 4 inch air intake system from the snorkel all the way to the throttle body”. Like the exhaust, that reduces the energy requires for the engine to operate, this time by making it easier to draw air into the cylinders.

So this Patrol has a lot more power thanks to the LS3, loses less power to the exhaust system, and it has an extra gear ratio with a six-speed auto compared to the five-speed manual, or two if you compare it to the 4-speed auto in the standard Patrols. All up, that translates to a lot more grunt and Phill’s Patrol has been measured at 220kW on the rear wheels on dyno while running its 37″ tyres.

When you increase the power of a 4×4 you then make it easier to run taller tyres, which are one the best modifications you can make to an offroader. Taller tyres mean you enjoy increased ground clearance, improved approach, ramp and departure angles, the ability to air down further, and better obstacle-climbing ability. Moving from standard 31″ tyres to 37″ tyres means an overall diameter increase of 152mm, which translates to around 76mm of extra clearance; Phill has measured under his diffs and found his new clearance is an impressive 283mm.

Tyres as tall as 37s need extra clearance around the body to prevent rubbing, so there’s a set of Dobinson’s 4″ springs fitted which Phill reckons translates to a 3″ lift after some sag. There’s not been any need for body modifications such as guard cutting as the 37s don’t rub at full lock or flex.

The disadvantages of taller tyres are the extra power needed, higher gearing, increased stress on the drivetrain, and reduced braking capacity. The power we’ve covered, and to some extent that also covers the gearing; a very powerful vehicle has less need for lots of gear ratios. The drivetrain is stock as it is Patrol-tough, but the brakes need attention.

Phill has upgraded the brakes with new pads, rotors and lines, and planned is a torque converter lockup and a for help with descents. Automatic transmissions are fluid couplings, which means the wheels can turn somewhat independently of the drivetrain. That means during descents the wheels can start to turn quickly thanks to gravity, but unlike with manual transmissions there’s not a direct connection to the engine so engine braking is ineffective. A torque converter in effect removes the fluid coupling so a direct connection from wheels to engine is made, and engine braking is effective. Phill also wants to lower the transfer case gearing, as the Patrol’s low range was never particularly low and the taller tyres have made it much worse.

If you’re wondering why the barwork looks familiar but you can’t quite place it then that’s because it is from Xrox, but with a small modification – some of the holes have been filled with blanking plates for what Phill reckons is better look and strength.

So that’s the basics of the car, and how does it perform? We asked Phill a few questions:

What are the top 3 things you love about your Patrol?
6 Speed auto
Twin locked (ARB rear, TJM front)
Sound of the V8 in the bush!

Top 3 things you hate about it or want to improve?
Needs new gearing in the transfer case to help with the torque convertor lock up on downhill sections
Need to fit bigger fuel tank for the longer distance trips
Not getting to use it enough!

What sort of fuel consumption do you get?
Any type of 4wding gets around 18– 24L/100km
Long distance highway driving – 17 – 19L/100km
Around town – 18 – 20L/100km

You’ve just fitted a second locker to the front axle. How much difference has that made?
Massive difference can now use the bottom end torque of the motor to just crawl up obstacles, instead of having to drive it really hard. Gives me a lot more confidence as I can have more control while driving the hard stuff.

Finally, why run 37s as opposed to 33s, what made you say it was worth the extra?
This is the second Patrol that I have had with 37s, some of the places we like to go having the better ground clearance is a real advantage.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com