Owner: William Kerse
Location: Devonport, Auckland
Occupation: Navy marine engineer

NZPC: Hi, Will. We’re quite partial to a tidy ute around here. How long have you owned it for?
Will: I bought it around a year ago now. It used to belong to a guy I went to high school with, and I remember seeing it parked outside school. The guy before me must have slapped together some spare parts he had lying around, because it had a 3SGE engine with a Borg Warner T5 gearbox behind it — that and the stock-car radiator and QA1 rear suspension. It looked cool, but was really underpowered to drive.

It’s hard to miss that you’ve done some work to solve the issue of power. What’s it been like since the V8 swap?
After I got passed by a super-underpowered BMW and chopping down the gears couldn’t save me, I knew it had to be done. Now, I know there is an engine there [laughs].

Mint. Having a bit of power behind the wheel of a daily can come in handy. Did it take long to get it how you planned?
The build only took around six months, start to finish. The 1UZ swap has been done plenty of times before, so all the information was there, and it ended up being a relatively easy task. DKM whipped up the exhaust, and I was lucky to have a few of the navy boys who were keen to help out. We smashed out the wiring over Waitangi weekend and took all our cars in to be certified at the same time.

A lot of people have problems at this stage of a build — was the process of certifying the ute a hard one?
Not really, [though] I thought it would be a few months before I could get a check booked in, but it ended up only being a week’s wait. The first check was much smoother than I expected, and the only thing needing to be done was the spacing on the engine mounts to clear the lower arms. The certifier found one of the rear shocks had a small leak, too, so I ordered a new pair from Cardwells and used the springs I already had.

Do you have any plans for the future, or are you content with how it is?
I’ve been eyeing up individual throttle bodies — you don’t really see them being done on these — and a set of lumpy cams would be perfect; otherwise, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got.

Make/model: 1991 Toyota Hilux
Engine: Toyota 1UZ-FE, 4000cc V8, custom intake, k&n pod filter, alloy radiator, de-loomed , tubbed and shaved engine bay
Drivetrain: Toyota W58 gearbox, Hurst shifter, DKM 2.5-inch side-exit exhaust
Interior: Recaro Fishnets, Rockford sound system
Exterior: Resprayed in Toyota Satin Silver, shaved Xtra Cab tray, Toyota Surf front guards
Wheels/tyres: 17x8-inch (+0) Diezel D-Window, 205/45R17 Achilles ATR 50 Sport
Suspension: Front drop spindles,QA1 rear coilovers, C-notched chassis, four-link rear