Every 4wder will tell you that they live and breathe 4 wheeling. For some, that is a throw-away statement, spoken to try and fit in. When you listen to others like Dave Mazzuoli rattle off the costs in terms of the long hours, the never-ending mods and the occasional love bite from an angle grinder, it’s clear that he spends just about every waking hour around a 4wd. Following his passion for boilermaking, he completed his apprenticeship and after clocking up a few years working for someone else, he decided to go all in and start his own offroad fabrication shop. Based out of Nowra on the NSW south coast, DM Offroad Fabrications has established a stellar reputation for producing quality work on a wide range of custom builds, chops and accessories while working on some of the most recognizable builds in the country. On the rare occasion that he isn’t creating someone’s dream 4wd, you can guarantee he is out exploring tracks with his young son Jordy. Naturally, you would expect a seasoned fabricator to drive a one of a kind rig themselves, and boy, would you be correct! All but a few people are aware that GQ’s arrived on Australian shores in either a long or short wheel base and both have their advantages and disadvantages, however it was only a matter of time until someone asked… why don’t we have both?!
“What went from a simple weekend diff swap turned into spending a couple of months outside on stands in the rain and by the time I realized this was the direction it was going, it was too late to move it!”.
Enter Dave’s mid wheel base GQ patrol, affectionately known as the ‘Middy’. After starting life as a standard TB42 SWB GQ with a less than careful previous owner, Dave saved the innocent old Nissan from a one-way ticket to a wrecking yard when he picked it up over 4 years ago. From no carpet and a shit-caked interior, the transformation is nothing short of spectacular. What began as a simple diff swap after picking up a set of GU diffs, turned into a full-blown quarter relocation and body extension. Obviously, no off-the-shelf ‘conversion’ kit exists for a MWB Patrol, so everything from the exterior paneling to custom arms, mounts and even the fuel tank had to be cut, shut, or made from scratch. Prioritizing customers cars over his own, Dave let the Middy sit outside in limbo on stands. “It’s crazy how things escalate”, says Dave. “What went from a simple weekend diff swap turned into spending a couple of months outside on stands in the rain and by the time I realized this was the direction it was going, it was too late to move it!”. Dave began working on it part time over a couple of months, slowly making sure no detail was overlooked. After cutting the quarter panel, the wheel arches had to be pushed back 11 inches to suit the new wheelbase and the GU diffs. This left a void between the doors and the new quarter panel position. Utilizing part of a door skin from a wreck, Dave was able to seamlessly replicate the body lines and make the GQ look like a factory MWB (which apparently exist over in the middle east!) In went a reinforced and braced sheet metal floor and the once innocent shorty was now back stronger and longer than ever!
Settling on a suitable heart for the Middy was proving time consuming for Dave, as he wanted something with the low-down grunt and torque to push through those difficult tracks. He threw a turbo on the TB42 and while it went like the clappers, you needed shares in fuel company to keep it on the road. Along came a stroked 355 Holden motor, but it proved to be temperamental down low and not quite suited to the task at hand. He gave Holden one last shot with a stock 5.0L, but even that couldn’t compete with the TD42 that now sits between the chassis rails. The upgraded 12mm injector pump and 20g turbo have been ‘tuned’ to 30psi which equates to around 230hp at the rear wheels and the stainless snorkel combined with the straight through exhaust let you hear every last one.
“Sitting high on 37 inch sticky treps wrapped around massively offset rims, superflex arms alongside a custom draglink and huge shocks with purpose built towers meant there wasn’t much the Middy couldn’t do. That setup made it the ultimate weekend warrior!”
Once the Middy was engineered and back on the road, the unique wheelbase offered quite a substantial advantage whenever Dave was taking on tracks chewed out by much longer vehicles. At the time, the Middy was sporting a stinger bar housing a high mount winch, along with some rock and gutter sliders protecting the cab from major damage while conquering tracks like Six Stage without so much as a second thought. Sitting high on 37 inch sticky treps wrapped around massively offset rims, superflex arms alongside a custom draglink and huge shocks with purpose built towers meant there wasn’t much the Middy couldn’t do. “That setup made it the ultimate weekend warrior!” says Dave, “there wasn’t an obstacle that could faze it”. Throw in a set of 85% reductions plus a locker at each end and the Middy didn’t seem out of place competing at Willowglen last year!
As all builds progress, things change and the Middy is no exception. Dave remarked, “I’ve sunk too much time, money and effort into it to simply give it the flick and buy a traditional tourer!” Eventually tiring of thrashing it every weekend and doing damage here and there, Dave made the call to turn the patrol into a capable tourer to get out and explore with his young son. He had no trouble selling off the insane front-end setup and settling on a slightly lower 2 inch lift with 20mm body lift to allowed that little bit of extra up-travel. Swapping from the sticky treps to Falken Wildpeak radials (still in 37’s!) and a set of Allied Savvana alloys has halved the wheel weight and made a massive difference to vehicle performance. 2 inch travel hydraulic bumpstops front and rear coupled with 10 inch triple bypass profender shocks make even the roughest trails a joy to drive. A complete barwork overhaul provides much more suitable protection for his current requirements. The scrub bars extend all the way to the rear bar and protect the freshly resprayed cab from any pesky rocks and branches. The 79 series graphite paintjob was the perfect choice for the vehicle, something that Dave deliberated on for a long time. To refresh the interior, a Ti swap with a full harness from headlights to taillights, door cards, dash and aircon has made the GQ much more highway friendly. “That’s where it is going to spend a lot of time from now on, travelling to and from adventures, exploring what our country has to offer”. We are stoked to hear that mate, and if you happen to come across the Middy out on an adventure, be sure to stop and take the time to have a look at this one of a kind build.