Guest Blog: Nigel Petrie>> Engineeredtoslide Drift Hilux Build – Pt3

Here we are again with the third instalment of Nigel Petrie's Drift Hilux build. It's a story of innovation, dedication, improvisation and self reliance. One man's quest to build a world class race car on a budget as big as his shed.

Since Part Two of my guest blog back in April a lot has happened. I had the VicDrift Drift Attack Competition in May and as a result of this, work was put on hold for a week while my focus on pre event preparation for my RPS13 took over.

It was all worthwhile with a podium finish and no mechanical dramas to hinder the progress of the Hilux.

The idea behind the Hilux has nothing at all to do with competitiveness, in fact it's quite the opposite. The RPS13 is my competition car and always will be. Tube frame cars are outlawed in nearly every national series around the world and Australia is no different. Our upcoming series, Australian Drifting Grand Prix has rules in place so that cars like my Hilux cannot compete because of the advantage they posses over their manufactured competitors. 

I believe tube frame drift cars have a place in the drifting community but far too often they are built by big budget teams sacrificing style for outright performance and gaining an edge over their competition. The reason I am building my Hilux is for style reasons. Please don't get me wrong, I want it to work well on the track just like my RPS13 does but seeing a long and low Hilux entering a corner backwards at speed is the reason I am doing this.

I've had to learn to switch my motivation between the two cars all year, my RPS13 must always be ready for a battle before I start work on the Hilux. Driving is just as important to me as building, and I want to be the best I can be at both aspects of drifting. 

The tube bender I fabricated has been the heart of the operation, precise bends are only a few pumps away.

But the one tool I have used more than the bender is my self fabricated tube notcher. With the bender, tube notcher, TIG welder and simple tools like a drill, file, angle grinder and some CRC, this entire chassis can be made.

In Part Two I discussed the idea behind the entire floor being remade. That decision had really paid off. With a total flat floor and squeeze frame to work off, brackets like this lower control arm mount are a breeze to fabricate and attach to the floor.

For now I am running S15 front lower control arms but will be fabricating my own rose jointed tubular control arms with an integrated caster arm mount.

My strut tops house the MCA struts, using 2.8mm sheet metal to encase the billet steel machined top mounts.

The biggest changes have been on the inside. In Part One we saw the complete S15 interior being fitted but now I have chosen not to do this, instead opting for more of a race car/industrial look showing off the time and effort put into perfect bar work. The original idea of utilising as much S15 Silvia stuff as I can has unfortunately gone. Instead I have opted for a more 'fabricate everything' approach.

I wanted to focus on some smaller details in Part Three as this is the time consuming part. You can make or break a project when it comes down to the smaller aspects of a build. Here we have one of the seat mounts in the floor.

There is still around two meters of steel tube to be added to the console/backbone that encases the driveline, I wanted to make sure there was enough strength in the middle of the chassis.

I am a lover of all motorsports, both two wheel and four wheel. I attribute my design to the many disciplines I look up to, and there's a lot of drag racing chassis fabrication ideas within this drift ute build.

I have pre-welded a lot of the smaller brackets before tacking in position, I want to make sure everything is in its correct position before the final welding process. These are the fuel tank supports.

On the subject of the fuel tank I had a spun alloy unit made up in USA. I couldn't have made it near as neatly as they did, let alone even find the materials to make it.

It's around a month before I lose the rolling frame it's mounted to. But a few more welds and the Hilux will be strong enough to stand its own for feet. I will surely sit back with a beer and cherish that moment!

It's a simple one man process to remove the body shell, simply slide it back over the frame and lift it off.

I have been making my own knuckles for several years now and have found it highly effective. I remade these S15 ones to be the same ones I run on my RPS13. It will give me a good base line to work from when improving the driftability of the Hilux.

Every now and then I hear the comments from people saying what a cop out the SR install is. I've run these motors for 7 years – since I turned 21 – and I have never had an issue and just love their power productivity and simplicity. If I was to start again with another motor then I would be starting from scratch; I know the SR well and believe it suits the chassis and purpose this is built for.

The steering column support was fabricated from 25.4mm tube. I will be working with this tube a lot from this point on with the build AS the entire rear end and front end will be made out of it to hang the panels and ancillaries off.

The chassis has been a mix of strengths and looks. I wanted angles and lots of them, i wanted this chassis to be a piece of handcrafted metal art, something that wouldn't look out of place in an industry art gallery.

If you had shown me this picture six months ago and said 'this is what your building' I would have laughed at the suggestion. Starting with a tape measure, no TIG welding skills, no tube bending skills, little to no room and nothing but a possible dream of a sideways Hilux, it's exceeding my expectations in every way possible.

It's been all about focusing on one step at a time and never losing sight of the bigger picture, and making sure that I never say 'that will do'. If I haven't been happy with something I haven't dwelled on the issue, I have just cut it off and learnt the lesson of that mistake making sure it doesn't happen again.

This build is a mix of many car cultures in this build. The items that I cannot build will be mostly Japanese like the iconic Bride seats.

The new console sections of tubing will eventually meet the floor in a section of angled tubes, I am waiting to incorporate the RB25 tail shaft mounts into this tubing.

With the wheels on it gives the Hilux a distinct hit of personality. It's like an RC car waiting for its plastic body to be painted and clipped on.

The one thing I have heard most from the feedback is how short it looks, no matter how many times I explain that the wheelbase is the same size as a JZX100 people still seem to think it's short. This view gives you an idea of the length, some 150mm longer than an S15 Silvia.

If you are thinking of building something on a jig like this please take a lesson I have learnt on board: make cut outs for the wheels so they can be sat at the correct ride height while the chassis is on the base of the jig. It's something I didn't do and now regret it as I can't measure angles until it's off the jig.

Everything is tacked with decent tracks. Once everything is in place I will weld the entire chassis over the duration of a week.

The gearbox is from an RB25 and increases strength in the driveline by large amounts. It will all be mounted to the chassis via solid mounts and sheet metal gussets will run throughout the chassis once the final welding has taken place.

I made up some slip-in supports for the tub to hang on to while I measure and shape the rear panels. At this stage you get a feel for the sheer length of the finished product.

The tub sides are from the same model but the extra cab variant. This means I had to add 150mm of sheet metal to the sides to achieve the correct length. The width on the other hand isn't exactly where I need it. The wheel arch area needs another 70mm of pumping each side and I'm taking my time to think of the neatest way possible to do this. The tailgate will also be an FRP item.

Once the guards are all shaped in metal they will be taken to an FRP shop to have a mold produced. That way I can have as many rear quarter panels as I need. The TE37 in bronze looks just right but I think the HIlux will need big polished rim lips.

The Bee-R B5 rims I thought would be a good match but they just don't look right tucked up like that. I can now measure out where the entire under car diffuser will exit at the rear. I want to spend a lot of time doing it just right as a lack of downforce on the rear may become an issue.

This is only 1/10th of my scrap metal pile. I do feel bad for some of these pieces of metal, AS they were once destined for a lifetime of love, a coat of paint and become part of my automotive history. Now they are banished to a lifetime of rust and loneliness.

This has been a story about self reliance; this creation has become a sold part of my life. It's about making sure everything fits within its criteria and budget. The build has enriched my life with confidence, skills, accomplishment and dreams. It's not just a build to me, it's an extension of myself. My hands have created what you see before you. The dream in my head gives way to hard work and after six month it's gone from an idea to something solid, something I can look at. And in another six months that something will be hurtling down a racetrack and backwards into the corner! Shut your eyes and you'll be hearing a screaming SR20; open them and you will see a Hilux, centimetres off the ground and plumes of smoke off the tyres.

I'd like to thank Casey and the Speedhunters team for posting this up for the world to see. Thanks for reading and remember to see constant updates at

- Nigel Petrie




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... oh thats good ... i love it !!!!!!


Nigel you're an inspiration.

I have a (pipe)dream to convert my old clunky Honda City SX8 daily driver into a mid-engined rocket in the future.

Alas this means I'll have to keep it around for a long long time while I finish up with my studies and make enough $ to start with my project.


hopefully i get to see this with my own two eyes one day

P.S. maybe a ride-along too


this is one crazy build, personally i wouldnt want a hilux or any car shell on this work of art. i think it looks absolutely sick naked with all the tubes. I can imagine that screaming down the track sideways... keep us posted on the build, im lovinn it


Looks bloody awesome now


Nice work. you don't need to justify your powerplant choice. This is your build and anyone who has a problem should try to build something as badass themselves.


well its coming along swimmingly.. i think sticking with the new flat floor was a idea of genius. it wll pay off dividends as the build goes on. - keep it up, at least you got climate and the space for such a mammoth task.. and the 'skill set' too - Thanks for the update.


it will not work... not properly...


"I believe tube frame drift cars have a place in the drifting community but far too often they are built by big budget teams sacrificing style for outright performance and gaining an edge over their competition."

couldn't have said it better myself... Formula D...

btw does anybody know what rims those are? low offset, big lips and chrome! ive seen them on Daigo Saito's JZX90 missile drift car but never known what they are.


Staggering, amazing, perfect work of art....


thats amazing looking foward to ur the next blog


Amazing build !!!!


this just gave me a woody made of steel pipe!!! Awesome! Inspiring! <3


This is such a great car. IM following you since day one.

I cant imagine you be drifting this truck.. after all the afford you put into it. .. lol. We will see!!


What a beautiful work of art! Great work, I love it.


Build of the decade.


first part about you drifting was un needed, and the whole article sounded like a pat on the back. yes, you deserve one because its a beautiful piece, but please keep it geared towards the technical specifications and progress youve made. hurr durr i drift/ pat on back/ technical/pat on back/technical/pat on back


Ive been following since part 1. Man I love this build. Can't wait till we get see the finished car.


hopefully i get to see this with my own two eyes one day

P.S. maybe a ride-along too


You really need to petition the local Severed Ties chapter....there's no way there gunna turn you down...I sure has hell know if you were in the states you'd be rockin a diamond.

world famous


Loving this build Nigel, this is what car culture is all about!

A suggestion I'd make in regards to the rear side panels is; in the last pic, you see where the bottom of the panel slopes down from the rear lights to the wheel? and similar on the other side? I think it would look best if they were straight, I think it would increase the 'motorsport' look of the truck, being as it will sit so low...

Also the rear arch; I'd be tempted to open it up ever so slightly for just a little less tuck.

Just some suggestions, either way I'm sure when it's finally finished it will look fantastic.

And the polished lip wheels you have fitted in most of the pics look best by far!

Keep up the good work brah!


Cool, u have good imagination and good implementation ability.. thumbs up!


beautiful work, keep us updated! is there a build thread somewhere?


Too gangster! Mad respect!


Wow, that is a very nicely built tube frame chassis. I applaud your dedication to the project and your craftsmanship! Looking forward to reading more as the project progresses.


I look forward to more updates and the final result.



Glorious Build!


get a holden engine in that mofo.


coooooooooooooool. taking shape nicely


Woooow a true inspiration.. Keep up the great work..


Please tell me you're planning on radiusing the fenders!


DUDE! seriously awesome fab


This is gonna be one badass ride when completed.Too bad it cant compete though,just goes to show how these "big names" cant step up their game and start banning the good stuff.

The project reminds me of a friends tube-framed car he built w/ a B16 on the back and fuel cell in the back all while it was street legal. i'll keep watching.


My favorite post ever on this site (the whole series of updates)


Love this build! Are you thinking about shortening the bed between the wheel and rear of the bed? Looks a little long, otherwise, excellent build!



why a long the shorty version..but sick dude..just sick


i see that you have gone to a lot of effort on the build and it looks nuts... but if your going to make a roll cage for it, why wouldnt you make a cams spec cage... i dont know much about the rules involed with cages and club drifting but... for peice of mind i would have fiited a spec cage if an acciedent would have happened

cheers dean


so sick, good job!


my god that looks amazing! i wish i could do something like that. A++++++


Well done Nigel.

A build fueled by personal emotion and skill over sheer budget.

Should be more of it in the world!


@ DRFTmonkeh

They are DriftMaster wheels as seen on Kazama's S15.


I forgot to mention, awesome build!!! Inspiring.


Awsome build! i'm looking forward to part 4


great writeup! especially like the perspective on the scrap pile and will think twice now every time I take scraps to the recycler! look forward to MOAR!!


Epic build! Easily one of the prettiest S13's I've seen too.


Nigel, keep up the great work !

In my opinion a lot of tubing is unnecessary, but, you're doing the measurement....and it's not my truck.

I can tell you right now; when you are done, this truck is going to weigh a ton. There's a lot of tubing. It's not going to be light.

However, like I said earlier, I think you're doing an excellent job.

I can't wait to see this thing roll on his power. Keep us updated :)


one thing cums 2 mind when i c this (PURE SEX)!!!


That will be lot of welding. Keep your left over filler rods while your welding. It makes for a fun fact to know how many feet and how much weight of rod went into a chassis. Very nice work.


Insane, inspiring, amazing. Dude, I want to see this thing drifting already!


"first part about you drifting was un needed, and the whole article sounded like a pat on the back. yes, you deserve one because its a beautiful piece, but please keep it geared towards the technical specifications and progress youve made. hurr durr i drift/ pat on back/ technical/pat on back/technical/pat on back"

Kinda agree. Sick build, but get tired of the culture,determination, one mans passion stuff. And trying to show everything about your life in a car feature.


an sr20 wouldnt be a cop out, what is a real cop out is everybody dropping v8's into everything


Never seen anything like this, this is amazing. Thats what you call a pro!


i agree with mayday instead of tellin us about how proud u r of urself show us wat uve done to it since the last update it is a gud job btw


A fantastic blog. You are on a mission which you will accomplish with sheer guts and determination. Your vision is something to be admired - focused and something not many others can do. Not all are gifted with the talents that you have. An extension of your interest in motor sport.


True Inspiration. Keep Living the Dream


Awesome work! I hope the amount of work will pay off once you hit the pedals ;)


@ Mayday,

I don't think I've ever seen someone so jealous of someones dedication & skills. Shut up & move on to a different article if this one reamed your butt out & now its sore. This is exactly whats wrong with the car community today..........there's too many know it all ass holes that won't let people do their own damn thing with out bitching.


very nice creation:)


Incredible---IMO better than Rusty.


Yo nigel if u see this keep it up because there's lots of is out there me being one that are doing builds on our Tacos and hilux and this is good inspiration for others as well as you just mad pownig out there so keep it up. Keep it up I was planning to do the same with my taco just not a detailed as urs im just gunna slam it weld the diff and stiffen her up and ill be out there til im out of tires


WOW!!! Amazing build, a true work of art.


How much does it weigh now?


@Dyllon: NO NEED to defend Nigel ! He's grown up, and I am sure he can chime in whenever he wants !!!

EVERYONE is entitle to have his/ her opinion. You CANNOT expect EVERYONE to like what Nigel is putting together, or how he writes his stories (I personally could CARE LESS about his drifting accomplishments). What I care about is this truck and that's all, and for that, I praise his work !

In my opinion Nigel is doing a great job. As far as the tubing goes, he's welding way too many tubing together and at the end, this truck will be heavy and will suffer from it, but it ain't my truck, and I respect what Nigel is doing. With that said, shall we move on ???


Cut the springs and put 20's on it !


If you find rear downforce being an issue or the lack of it you might want to try putting a fan in the bed area. Have the fan mounted so that it sucks air from underneath helping to provide downforce at slower speeds.

Love the build quality. Makes me want to get a donor car and make a tubular frame for the skin. Keep up the good work, I'll be looking forward to seeing more progress.


Too cool buddy, well done.

That twisted frame of steel is your canvass, and who cares what others believe should or shouldn't be included. Build it how you like it mate and it will turn out awesome as all of your cars do.



Love the whole idea of the build! Keep up the good work.


just wow


omg.. those rims. they are the best, ever. Are those te's sl with a lip???


nice project and all but ur tig welds need some work there buddy im not sure theyll hold up but then again id have to see them upclose to tell u that


honestly man this is really interesting. at first icouldnt tell what you were trying to accomplish but now i see the big picture. i actually like and love this thing good job and keep us updated i want to see this thing hittin it sideways.


would like to hear a final price of this thing :) it should encourage more people to do something like that :)


I also suddenly realised it'll be damn cool in a ghetto way if you had ori 4x4 rims on those with really high profile 70% tyres on them.



Nice work!

just got the link from a friend...

i make plans for a similar tube setup for a pontiac trans am street/drift car since the stock body is way too weak, soft and tends to cracks.

since i spent quite some time to develop ideas, my build will be different in some aspects.

i like to have ist as light as posible, as stiff as posible, well ballanced as well as easy to work on, all at the same time!

so my plans are not just a flat floor, but some chanels and difusors allredy built in to create hidden downforce.

for reduced weight i'll stay with round tubing only.

have the engine set back about 150 to 200mm.

i would like to build the flof with some removable braces to have acces to the transmission from below.

i would also create some chanels for the exhaust pipes, don't like to have them inside the car.

about stiffnes:

i would suggest if triangulating stuff, place the tubes so that the ends meet.

for an example i would raise the upper ends of the door crossing tubes, to meet the ones comming from the suspension.

also i would raise the lower front corner of that cross, to where the front suspension triangulating meets the vertical bar.

sure it looks nice now, but forces will try to bend on that vertical bar at the front of the door.

you wont need much stiffnes in the lower front corner of the door, it just needs to suport your feet.

if you like, i'd sugest to purchase a copy of "chassis engineering" by Herb Adams, a real eye opener if like best performance on a budget.