We’ve all got them, our Trade Me special, or e-Bay find, maybe even that special Ali-Express bargain. Brent Holden has us all whacked when it comes to online shopping; he found this engineering masterpiece for sale on Facebook. In France.
Built in 2014 for “The Mud Racer” Cedric Porcher for the Euro Ultra4 Championship series, and Challenge events, the buggy fits right in with the Mainland Series Outlaw class and has replaced Brent’s much used Nissan GQ Modified Class club truck.
Originally a member of Auckland’s Shore 4Wheelers Club, Brent was heavily involved in the Challenge scene up North with the Nissan, having helped build Possum Palace. He transferred to Christchurch two years ago to take up a role as Operations Manager for Metro Glass.
There is still a strong Auckland link here though. Both Brent’slongtimee co-driver Aaron Blomfield, and mechanic Cole Titchmarsh make the trip down for the Superwinch-backed series rounds.
Once we got talking about the truck, it became obvious it really is a work of art, and the way Brent and the crew present it shows their obvious pride in their new weapon.
So, starting from the front, here is what makes it tick.
Following the trend to lighter trucks, with ultra-efficient electric winches, Brent and Aaron rely on a twin motor Redwinch Hornet from Force 4. The 12V Ox-motors get fed 24Volts for extra grunt.
Behind the winches is the front mounted trans cooler, and the mounts for the front suspension. As supplied with the truck from France, the set up is all Radflo, with triple bypass coilovers and bump stops keeping things under control.
Diff housings front and rear are Spider Trax from out of the US, including the knuckles and backing plates, which carry Willwood brake callipers.
The diff units are Mega High 9, a specialist set up based on the Ford 9 inch, and both front and rear carry ARB air lockers. Articulation is controlled by a simple 3 link arrangement, plus Panhard Rod.
Steering is taken care of by an entirely Howie set up, with heavy-duty rod ends, which gives an astonishing 50 degrees of lock.
When Brent took delivery of the truck, power was supplied by a worked Chev LS3, but at the Stavely round of the series a fuel injector nozzle stuck open, which caused the cylinder to hydraulic the piston, smashing a hole in the block, and breaking the timing chain, and so it went on.
At the moment there is an LS1 filling the space, but a new rebuilt LS3 is getting closer. Brent is aiming for about 550 HP but is concentrating on reliability, with such things as a Mealing oil pump, and Accusump baffled and trap-doored sump, to overcome the oil surge created by the extreme angles it encounters in competition.
The original 4L80 trans, fitted with a manual valve body, and backed up by an Atlas transfer case, has been retained and will sit behind the LS3 when it goes back in.
The 24V electrics for the winches are on a completely independent circuit from the main truck 12v set-up, with separate alternator and batteries.
Brent describes the circuitry as a work of art, with waterproof marine grade fuses and relays in a sealed box behind the electrical panel on the dash. Rear vision is limited so a reversing camera is fitted, the screen sitting where the rearview mirror would normally be found.
Co-drivers fiddle brake levers dominate the RH Side of the cockpit, the levers in the centre are individual rear brakes for the driver to operate.
Four ARB Locker switches allow independent operation of front and rear by both driver and co-driver. The Euro harnesses have been replaced by 4 Point belts to comply with the NZ rules.
Moving back from there, the engine intake air box sits between the seats, with the snorkel behind the roll cage. The engine intake manifold is bolted on backwards, which allows for easy intake plumbing, and puts the throttle body behind the co-drivers footwell.
Radiators are mounted high behind the roll cage, with oil coolers integrated into the bottoms. Twin Spal fans are aided by air flow ducted from over the roof. The loops mounted high on the roll cage pillars are to allow for high-level rope lines from the rear winch.
The rear diff is located by a custom 4 link set up, again with Radflo coil overs and bump stops. A high mounted sway bar is set up to control body rocking movement.
Custom bead locked wheels carry 37inch Maxxis Trepador tyres for competition, and 40 inch for playtime – and image! The wheels are due to be updated to double beadlocks, running 6 psi rear, and 8 front has seen the tyres popped off the rims, one stage at Maruia saw the team finish with both front tyres flat, steering with the rear brakes.
Talking to Brent, it is obvious he is rapt with the truck. “A mate went to have a look at it for me, and when I decided to buy it, delivered it to the boat. I hadn’t seen it in the flesh till we unloaded it.”
Asked what his favourite thing about it is, it’s not what it is, or what it’s got, it’s what it does. “Every time we go out, it impresses and surprises us some more,” said Brent. “It always puts a grin on our faces!”
“Now we have to learn how to keep it reliable. We bent the bulletproof front diff, and it took a 60-tonne press to straighten it!”
“We are still strengthening things to handle the Gorilla Factor. We’ll do almost anything to finish a stage!”
Talk about the future just brings up a couple of things, get it up to Possum Palace for some serious fun, and a real bucket list item: “The King of the Hammers is really the main target. I would just love to get there someday.”
I wouldn’t bet against him turning up with something pretty serious when he does!
As well as Aaron and Cole for all their support, Brent would like to thank Tom’s Off-Road at Waipara, and Phil at Force4 in Auckland, Maxxis Tyres, Harmon Brothers Racing, and NZ Off-Roader.
Check out more images of the truck in the gallery above.