Going where most performance cars haven't gone before, we storm unrestrained over judder bars, rooster tailing through ruts and scaled rocky outcrops, halting in the subjects' territory, for a photo shoot. The subject is Jono Climo's non-typical Lexus V8-powered 1984 Toyota Hilux.
Highly regarded Climo and his company Performance Metalworks are famous for these distinction one-off creations, such as the Hilux named DSTRBR. His perfectionist fabrication and expertise are illustrated on the Mitsubishi drag car DOCILE, of Andre Simons from Speedtech Motorsports. The eight-second??? capable car was fully fabricated by Jono and this includes the intensive chrome-moly roll cage, tube frame front, and stainless headers, plenum and plumbing.
Performance Metalworks champions under the bonnet on the show circuit as well. An example of his engine bay custom fabricating and show detailing is seen on the 2004 Auto Salon Championship winning EVLGSR, of Matt Sealy's. The seamless hand shaped plenum and exquisite exhaust manifold has won countless engineering and innovation titles.
Climo's experience and know-how stems from years of various trades, primarily as a qualified mechanic, then a sheet metal fabricator, a radiator repair specialist and two and half years as a race car fabricator at Herbert Fabrication.
Initially locking eyes on the $600 hunk of Toyota rust, Climo visualised the upshot. First priority was horsepower, and the solution was fitting the 4.0-litre quad cam V8 1UZFE engine, mostly seen in Lexus. This Toyota/Lexus V8 has given import performance enthusiasts rejuvenated faith in V formatted eight cylinder. Differentiating from the old fashioned V8 Chevy's and Fords, the superior and advanced 1UZFE is made from lightweight alloy instead of cast iron, it has two cams per bank instead of one and utilises multi-valve fuel injection in its place of a carburetor.
"It's a flexible and strong motor, which produces good power and torque, whilst remaining economical," says Climo. Enhancing the flow in and out the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre Lexus is a K&N air filter and Climo's own headers. The precision fabricated headers drop into a 3-inch Mandrel bent stainless exhaust, which exits ahead of the passenger side rear wheel, in a twin pipe fashion. DSTRBR's custom unfettered violent exhaust bark intoxicates the surroundings and guarantees to disturb. Phil at Retro Tech wired the factory 1UZFE computer into the Hilux. Under the bonnet, the fitment of the 4.0-litre 1UZFE appears to look like it was factory option. From the detailing point of view, any exposed aluminium is polished, and hoses have been replaced with blue silicon counterparts.
DSTRBR hasn't yet been on the dyno, however in testing, power felt astonishing, maybe it was the fact that we were abnormally jacked metres off the ground, but the estimate of 280 to 300 horsepower was deemed to be truthful. Under ‘normal' driving the truck needs no effort to climb or tow, with loads of usable torque.
Uncertain of how the 1980's Ute would handle the first corner; with surprise it cut through the bends as any other tuned car would. Tyres protested before any body roll and handling was positive and firm handling, thanks to the Rancho 5000 shocks, bolted underneath the strengthened chassis. The essential intimidating monster truck 33-inch high, 12.5-inch wide MT Savero tyres encircle the 15x10-inch warped design chrome Ultras.
As for drive equipment, factory Toyota Hilux gear is recognised for its strength and reliability, this saved the task of installing any other heavy artillery in the driveline. Steelie Gears rebuilt front and rear limited slip differentials, ideal for the adverse off-road terra firma. Once out of rear-wheel drive/burnout mode and into four, the two rears alight from the 300hp via a chrome-moly flywheel, mating to a 2100lb Luk clutch. The gearbox is a Hilux W-series five-speed box and transfer. A testament to the strong drive and motor combination was the half quarter-mile burnout at the 2004 4 & Rotary Nationals.
The sombre black Hilux you see pictured, is poles apart from the rust-riddled original. In dire need of major restoration, Climo overhauled the chassis and shell. Firstly the front was repaired, and then the rear tray was severed off and replaced with a later version. Disguising this are extensions on all four guards and chunky chrome dipped roll bar. A confirmed black and chrome aficionado, Orewa Panel and Paint dispersed the Hilux in Climo's favourite gloss black. Contrasting this is chrome performance Metalworks signage, clear taillights and a chromed embossed TOYOTA.
Keeping it to its tough industrial roots are aluminium checker plates, trimmed on the doors, floor, and drive tunnel, as the rest is upholstered in black. The bench seat was biffed in favour of two Celica GT4 seats and the standard steering wheel is replaced with a MOMO small counterpart. A checker plate speaker box holds Pioneer speakers and is powered and controlled by a complementary branded headunit and equaliser, the next installment is a subwoofer and amplifier.
Out of DSTRBR's confines Climo won best Ute an the Wellington Auto Salon show, and the 1540kg-er pulled a 15-second flat quatermile, however was hindered by faulty cooling and mud tyres. DSTRBR is being retired from off-roading and tyre frying, for towing the next incarnation of the Performance Metalworks custom Ute.
Watch for what is to come from Climo at Performance Metalworks, with a fine selection of customer cars and a growing collection of his trademark black and chrome unique masterpieces. His latest a turbo intercooled four-wheeler motorbike, rolling on dubs, 18x10.5-inch chromes, shod with 295x35 performance tyres.
Words and photography by Lloyd Bassett-Smith