Nigel's Drift Hilux
Full tube frame chassis, 330kW SR20DET, engineered to slide
It was only ever supposed to be a six-month build but, as any well-travelled fabricator can tell you, projects as serious as Nigel Petrie’s Toyota Hilux drift truck have a bad habit of getting away from you.
It’s this incredible build that Nigel, who is a part-owner of Earnest, is best known for across the automotive world. Ever since build images began to emerge online back in the early 2010s, enthusiasts from all corners of the globe have been fascinated with this unique machine.
The Toyota Hilux (if you can still call it that) is built around a complete tube-frame chassis, which has allowed Nigel to design and place every component of the vehicle exactly where he wants it to be, which you’ll know is a huge deal if you’ve ever had to fight with the limitations of factory suspension pickup points and geometries in a monocoque chassis vehicle. Nigel took inspiration from many different forms of motorsport when designing the chassis and suspension but still wanted his Hilux to retain a very clean and low minitruck aesthetic despite the performance capabilities. And thanks to the freedom that comes with starting from scratch, that’s exactly what has been achieved.
Under the bonnet, you’ll find a built 330kW Nissan SR20DET that was originally found in Nigel’s S13 drift car. The block runs CP pistons and Eagle rods, while the head uses Tomei rocker arm stoppers, GReddy valve springs, and Trust cams. Power is provided using the tried and true SR20 companion — a GReddy TD06 20G turbo sitting on a steam pipe manifold.
The Hilux weighs around 900kg and with 330kW on tap, you can imagine it’s quite an experience behind the wheel. Nigel says that the Hilux is different from anything he’s ever driven. “The single biggest difference being the mechanical feel that the truck has,” he says. “From the first drive, I realised what I had created — the entire car talks to you through the seat, through the steering wheel and through the pedals, minor changes in setup have a drastic influence to the cars handling and it gave me a sense of what an open wheeler race car would feel like. It's a Hilux but not like any other and I love that about it.”
This is a machine that Nigel always looks forward to driving at general track days, drift days, or special exhibition events. “Even when it's sitting in the garage it's a symbol to me that anything is possible if you set your mind to something and dedicate the hours to a single project. It's not one of those cars you build and sell, it's more of a personal journey and a snapshot of what my life was for the three-year time span that it took to build it.”