The South African-built Nissan Champ is hardly an icon in the automotive world. It has neither a cult following, nor is it really ever in the media. Except ours that is! Introducing The Punisher!
By Chad Miller
For many of us, our love of all things with an engine and wheels started way back when we were kids thanks to the Hot wheels cars your folks gave you. In my childhood, I remember dreaming about being behind the wheel of the 1/64 scale monster cruising down the highway, which infact was the retaining wall in our back garden; exactly where I was transported back to once a particular candy-red bakkie peaked around the corner on an early Saturday morning in Alberton; the deep red paint, stubby stance, big wheels, tyre lettering and flared arches gave it toy like dimensions, but the sound is what brought everything back to reality, a reminder that it was 1/1 scale! What also proved that this thing was real (apart from it driving) was the real sized owner; Marius van Westhuizen: Alberton boytjie, super 1400 bakkie builder, and all-round cool guy to chat to!
Standing around chatting to Marius, he let me in on the bakkie’s history; an 8-year transformation inspired by a late friend who also owned a modified 1400. The story started when he bought the bakkie and decided to “keep it simple” – he sprayed it black and modified to the point that it got an SNS feature back in issue 134. That feature soothed the modifying itch, but then things flared up again when Marius decided to go big or go home. And looking at the results, I doubt he’ll be going home for a while!
This new-found inspiration saw the bakkie pulled into Marius’ garage (I guess he went home after-all) where it was completely stripped. Once naked, the bakkie’s locks and tailgate handles were smoothed and those chubby custom arches were added. The shell was then sent to Wikus Vosloo from Auto Art who applied a silver base coat and layer upon layer of imported Blood Red candy paint. Once the paint had dried, the body was returned for re-assembly and, being a perfectionist and sucker for detail, Marius put back all the trim perfectly right after it was blacked out by Chrome It in Pretoria. Black trim on a blood red bakkie: sinister right?
This sinister theme can be found on the inside was well where red stitching and black leather adorn the seats, doors and dash. The hood lining couldn’t escape either and the diamond stitch pattern looks high-end too! The interior also received a host of carbon fibre additions like the custom-built centre console from Riaan at Straight Ace Auto and the Sparco steering wheel.
The cabin of course is not only home to black leather and some red thread because hidden behind the seats, in a custom box that extends into the load bed, are two Digital Design 12” subwoofers while the doors mix things up with Digital Design splits and Pioneer dual-cone speakers. The audio equipment in the car weighs quite a bit, so naturally a Marius needed a bit more power to pull it along; naturally, I assumed there was a Toyota 4AGE hiding behind that Mishimoto intercooler; but alas I was wrong.
To ensure that the envelope was pushed in every aspect of the build, Marius chose a 4G63 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution motor which in turn is fitted with forged Wiseco pistons, Eagle conrods and a Precision 6262 turbo. Full Boost Performance built the custom boost pipes and custom intake plenum, so naturally they look proper as well! Looks aside, this stunning motor is not just for show, it pumps out a genuine 380kW and 572Nm of torque on the 17” Racing Hart wheels, a figure that the new Toyota D4D gearbox can vouch for, given that the motor stripped the old Toyota box.
Having 380kW sitting at the rear wheels means that safety would become a concern at some point; so, to ensure braking wasn’t going to become a headache, Marius fitted a set of Vari discs and calipers and the suspension was sorted with custom 20mm springs, custom tramp bars and the often overlooked Teflon bushings.
Like those bushings, nothing on this bakkie has been overlooked, and this build has inspired Marius and a friend to start Punisher Developments so, if you want a 1400 of this calibre, you know who to call! Marius thanks Wikus Vosloo (Auto Art), Mike Hoffman (RA), Marius (Full Boost), Bertie Laubsher and Quinton Fourie. “Thank you to my wife and kids for supporting me all these years and a special thanks to Barend Le Rou (Dons) that inspired me from a young age to build cars.”