Dieselgate Downunder

Perhaps it’s a regional thing, but when most people talk about their work ute (pick-up truck) and their drag car, they’re usually talking about two separate vehicles.

I know that in other parts of the world tuning fast diesels is a way of life, but for now at least, when people ‘Down Under’ are talking performance motoring they’re talking good old-fashioned petrol, and more commonly these days, ethanol. Diesel engines are most often relegated to tow cars in the pit area.


Not Ned Amey though. Ned introduced me to a carbon fiber, diesel-spewing monster the likes of which I’d never seen before. His low-powered, very humble, and often mistreated work ute has been truly reborn.

Witnessing first-hand how the 2009 Holden Colorado tore up the Racewars runway and even a few heavyweight competitors, the dramatic makeover obviously didn’t stop at a few replacement body panels.


Between races I made my way over to where Ned and the boys from Reaper Performance Diesel were parked up, and insisted on a closer look at this mobile soot factory.


The boys were more than happy to accommodate, and they even flipped the tin-lid back on their other fun project. Karel Foster’s Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a monster 10.4-litre turbo-diesel Cat 3208 liberated from a Ford Louisville water tanker.


Shoe-horning the 636 cubic-inch V8 into a passenger vehicle came with more than its fair share of issues to work through, but anything is possible with some determination and possibly a slide hammer. “You’re never late with a [Cat] 3208,” laughed Cody when I asked about the motivation to build something so outlandish. “It felt good to try something that hadn’t already been done, proving the naysayers wrong was a nice bonus, too, I suppose,” he continued when pressed for a real answer.


They say that artwork is a reflection of its creator, and this truck is completely mental. A similar ‘zero f**ks given’ philosophy was behind the Reaper Boys dialling in their old work ute way past sensible, with the express intention to send it down the runway.

Where many ‘normal’ people ask ‘why?’, these loose units shrug and simply say ‘why not?’ Why not, indeed. Let’s get started with the most notable feature under, well, through the hood. The heat-wrapped three-inch exhaust venting straight through the bonnet serves two purposes simultaneously. Firstly, as you might guess, it’s the shortest, easiest route for the super-hot exhaust mixture to escape.


The pipe’s second function, which I feel is more important than maximum horsepower, sees the exhaust double as an impressive soot cannon, capable of instantly removing the smug smiles on the faces of Toyota Prius owners within a two-kilometre radius of the truck.


The brightly-colored engine bay was unexpected and caught me by surprise, but once the initial ‘WTF?’ moment had passed, I recognized the motor as a 3.0-liter Isuzu 4JJ1, which one would find inside a Isuzu D-Max. That makes perfect sense too; the Holden Colorado is a D-Max rebadged for the Australian market.


That’s something I’ve found curious as Isuzu also sell the D-Max locally, but regardless of what badge you buy, the 4JJ1 has a rock-solid reputation for strength and reliability. It was an excellent base for Ned’s project.


An unspecified turbocharger blasts a whopping 70psi of boost through the engine.

The high-pressure snail combined with a custom Reaper tune may do the heavy lifting, but a hell of a lot of supporting tweaks, like the ZEX nitrous, and the in-cabin ice cooler that Ned was too humble to mention, all work together. The current build provides 500hp (triple the horsepower of what the Isuzu left the factory with) and 1050Nm of torque to turn the rear wheels on command.


A manualised automatic transmission and set of super-sticky 295/65 Mickey Thompson ET Street radials do their best to get all the power to the ground, and the setup does a good job of that. The Rodeo’s best quarter mile so far has been a 10.78, putting the ute in serious contention for the title of Australia’s fastest diesel.


Let’s all take a moment of silence to think about that. Sub-10-second ETs in a work ute. A carbon fibre work ute.

Again, Australia’s West Coast and the madmen who attend Racewars have delivered another surprise one-two combo. Who would have ever thought I’d be so enamoured with a carbon-clad, diesel-powered race/work truck? Hell, I couldn’t have even imagined a build this random if I’d tried before boarding my flight to the event.


I think the ‘surprise find’ like this is the reason why so many of us hold Speedhunters close to our hearts. Even after a solid decade of searching, we manage to uncover unpredictable builds and fresh ideas that continue to expand what we know as car culture.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

Ned would like to thank Reaper Performance Diesel, Outlaw Mechanical, Cams Metalworks, Monza Carbon Thailand, ECU=SHOP, Rev Motorsport Malaysia, Dream Built Fabrication, AKM Towing, KLO Auto Electrics, Karel Foster, Cody Bashford, Adam Eltringham and Sara Amey.

Smoke & Mirrors


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Ruairidh Sharp

These are insane!

Matthew Everingham

Pretty wild, right?


The Colorado's CF body parts are from Thailand?

Matthew Everingham

Monza Thailand.


That's well tuff trucks . Diesel will sooner or later be outlawed, so have fun while it lasts.


lat 90's (not sure from the date) diesel was considered less pollutant than petrol, now they're saying full EV are better but no one is asking about the source feeding the recharge grid and the total efficiency since you lost some power in the grid (we're loosing some in transporting fuels i know, but also no full study to compare the actual effectiveness). And talking about the EVs, who the hell told them it's better to look weird?
We can never know what our "leaders" are hiding for us, it's pure business.


I won't be able to enter city center with my Toyota from 2020 because it's a diesel, and same in major european cities, but they don't give a fuck about all the diesel buses, or the 15.000 taxis which are 80% diesel. I see it like another way of making you pay more taxes.


2002 you mean? which country you live in. I live in the Netherlands and I totally understand with my 2005 Skoda Fabia


No I mean two years from now, many cities will ban diesels because contamination, here in Madrid around the center they will even ban every kind of private transport, including motorbikes, only public transport allowed around the center, and streets will be opened to pedestrians.


The back to medieval but we are greeny and futuristic kind of politics merchandising. taking these ideas to this extreme demonstrates pure irrationality or respect for intelligence. Cities and economy need cars for developing temselves. A car can be understood as moving arcitecture. there is also contaminating and bad architecture. but Arch has its space to evolve. Cars need their space too. cars will be green and ecologic and work in solar power or hydrogen or herbal smoothies, but, seriously, we cant delete them. they gotta have their space to evolve and change for the better.


This is Australia. European spec environmental restrictions are decades away. Diesel / Petrol / Ethanol powered vehicles will still make up the vast majority of the Australian vehicle fleet for at least the next 15-20 years given the average length of time Aussies hold on to their cars before trading them. EV uptake is tiny and there's still not the infrastructure to support them outside the major cities so it would be totally impractical and politically impossible to ban internal combustion engines from anywhere in Aus for at least 10yrs.


Mhh, can you smell the cancer?


It's 1 performance UTE in the wild, I don't think it's allowed to enter the main cities. Regular diesel cars have massive filters and advanced engine management that even on full throttle you'll never see the black smoke. Can't compare performance cars to regular cars.


Mhh, can you smell the cancer?

No, but I can smell the POWAAA.

I need one of these guys to teach me how to be a man...or woman.
Frankly, I'm open to either.


you don't have to smell it. Diesel particulate matter is ultra fine, so it can just absorb into your body without you having to inhale it. This is just one reason why rolling coal is the stupidest vehicular trend ever.




Awesome article title. On a side note I did just watch the dieselgate thing on that netflix show. Had no idea it was so out of hand. They say it extends to Porsche and Audi now I think.

Anyway, these are pretty sick cars! If this is diesel gate we need more of it!

Matthew Everingham

JOHNB! *fist pump*


Is that thing a manual? Do they make diesel manual work utes in Australia?

Matthew Everingham

A lot of utes are still available in manual in Australia. I'd say that 1/2 to 1/3 of all tradie utes are manual. Maybe even more in certain models.
This particular example has an aftermarket manualized automatic transmission.


most work utes are manual here. the text says its a manualised auto though. Probably so they can build boost on the stall converter off the line


More EV monsters please.


Do they NEED to spew so much soot? I got the impression it was a big middle finger to everyone around them


This vehicle runs a 10.7 second quarter mile with nothing more than a light haze of exhaust smoke.
The soot at low RPM is a necessary evil when running larger injectors and HPCR pump on a small displacement engine to make this much horsepower.


It's a consequence of the amount of fuel that's injected into the engine. Diesel engines built for pure performance almost universally do it as more or less a side effect of having an efficient fuel injection system.

Having a road vehicle that does it (that isn't built for competition) is mostly just a "style choice" though.

Wally Crockett Jr.

Just seeing all this burly Australian manliness made me sprout pubes.

Matthew Everingham

Haha, this is a serious contender for 'Comment of 2018'.


Truck frome Thailand


We're talking about an engine with more power than a normal heavy truck/rig/prime mover... or whatever you call it in a UTE, and don't forget the 1050 N.m torque!!!
The build is insanely good but i has waiting for 1 more chapter for the Toyota (maybe another separate full feature article?), too many photos allover the internet and on many sites but didn't find any article.


More on the CATercruiser Plz!


I would love to see that exhaust venting directly into the cabin.


Speedhunters...not envirohunters mate...on ya bike...without a seat...


Soot gets the moot!


It's also worth remember the Reaper lads put this ute together at the absolute last minute after their actual race trucks weren't going to be ready in time all while dealing with idiot customers like my brother and his shitbox 80 Series...

Tops article Matty!

Matthew Everingham

Thanks, Captain Burnouts.

Shout out to Timmy-The-Tool for holding up the real REAPER Race Truck! Nice work!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I'm surprised to see a Malaysian shop got involved in such a crazy build!


It's disgusting that speedhunters would promote coal rolling. Despite what you think, the environment IS important, and people like this are the ones who attract hate to every other car enthusiast, leading to more bans on ICEs and classic vehicles.


Disgusting? Because you actually see the smoke instead of the invisible gases from other cars? Are you high on soot fumes now?
What form of motorsport or even general motoring is good for the environment? Even EV is bad. Actually could be worse when you consider the mining, transportation + manufacturing of batteries with a limited life span.


-posted from my iPhone, made in China using materials strip mined in Africa and then shipped to wherever else in the world

A few diesel trucks kicking out some soot are the least of the world's environmental problems, and if we're going to ban enjoying life what's the point of saving the world?



It's a race car at a race event going racing. It might get used 10 or so times a year at various events so who cares if it soots off the startline? In terms of it's actual annual emissions it would be less than a daily driven emissions legal road car.

There was also a jet dragster there that made 20x more smoke than the ute could ever dream of before it lit the afterburner and yet even all the C02 emissions from this event would of been less than the thousands of emissions legal road cars would of generated driving the 800km return journey to the event and back.


The truck I mean. THAT's license plated isn't it?

Jason Buckedy

I also vote for a story about the Toyo/Cat juggernaut. More diesel Speedhunters, plz.


Where can l see more of this Land Cruiser?!


You need to see Thailand's pickup ute scene. I can say Thai is "Diesel Nations"

Matthew Sales

That Colorado definitely borrows some ideas from Thailand! You often see pick ups/utes driving around the streets there with carbon panels like the ones featured here. That Cat conversion into the cruiser is properly mean! I love that it retains the industrial yellow paint on the engine/ turbo.