Unsealed 4X4 Vault: SAS LS1 D22 Navara

ByWes WhitworthMay 19, 2020
Unsealed 4X4 Vault: SAS LS1 D22 Navara

It’s a bit hard to get out and about to shoot custom rigs right now, so here’s an amazing SAS LS1 D22 Navara from the Unsealed 4X4 Vault that will blow your mind.

For those wanting to get into four-wheel driving and needing to work on a budget, a D22 Navara is a pretty good option for most young apprentices. That’s where this adventure and build began back in 2011 for Brett. Fast forward a few years and after a lot of blood, sweat, tears, effort and money, Brett still has this neat D22, however it has changed considerably to suit his needs and, to be honest, it’d suit ours too! We’re pretty sure an LS1 V8 and SAS (solid axle swap) converted D22 Navara would suit a lot of people, just quietly.


The Nav

Brett bought this 2002 D22 Nav back in 2011 with a reasonable 298,000km on the clock and stock as a rock. Being a first-year apprentice back then, Brett explained to us that he got the D22 mainly for the price.

From there the modifications began, and he’s found out quicker than most it is a slippery slope. Throwing the SAS in the D22 to get the front-end working better when out playing, he’s followed this up with an LS1 V8 conversion. Suffice to say he’s pulling 210kW out of it at the treads, without any serious bolt-ons.

We caught up with Brett in Central Queensland where we got to climb all over the D22 and got to see it play in some rather serious ruts in an old quarry.

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Under the D22

First up, let’s have a look at the SAS conversion. The front diff is a flipped GQ Patrol item, with custom 6mm housing from RDG Engineering with braced steering knuckles. The front and rear centres were swapped over to 4.625:1 ratio ring gear to suit the LS1 conversion and box.

The suspension setup under the front houses 4-inch lifted springs, 10-inch remote res Fox shocks and a fully customised Superior Engineering Panhard rod and Superior hybrid Superflex arms, keeping the wheels planted through just about anything.

Under the back-end of the Nav it’s been left reasonably standard (yeah, we say that tongue in cheek), with 2-inch lifted EFS Springs, 2-inch Snake Racing extended shackles and a set of Bilstein shocks keeping everything moving smoothly. Having Bilsteins in the rear obviously helps with the LS1 in the front, especially when he’s doing happy laps to Macca’s on a Thursday night on the blacktop.

Brett has also thrown in a GU Patrol steering box, Bilstein steering damper and Chromoly drag link from Superior Engineering.

The differing suspension setups and shock brands and tuning seems a lot like a reverse mullet that’s actually cool – a loose-as-hell party up the front for off-road duties and all business down the back for when it’s being used on the blacktop to put the power down. Maybe the mullet comparison is unfair, but it works.

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The driveline

#LSTHEWORLD Right, now the obligatory hashtag is out of the way, this thing is actually pretty mental, reliable and, dare we say it, even a bit fancy.

Brett explained to us that the poor old donk just wasn’t cutting it with 300 on the clock and he wanted something a little special, a bit different and a tad pokey.

Enter LS1 stage right, with a rather stupidly built 4L65E auto bolted to its backside. The LS1 has been left reasonably tame, with an aftermarket fuel rail, fuel pressure reg, 4-inch throttle body with cable instead of fly-by-wire, and a MAF-less tune. Keeping it breathing is a full twin 3-inch system including extractors from AAA Exhaust & Fab up in Mackay.

Then there’s the auto box behind it. This is where you take a 4L60E, put in Kevlar clutch packs, Corvette servos, monster sunshell, 13-vane pump, a five planetary gear set and boost valve, and it becomes a very well built 4L65E. Not even kidding, this thing would take 500hp, and laugh at it all day long. A Marks adapter kit bolts it up to the transfer with a QD32 tail shaft, and a B&M Shifter in the cab shuffling the cogs around.

Other than that, there’s a PWR Race radiator and LS2 high-flow water pump keeping it cool, along with a low temp thermostat.

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The everything else

In doing the SAS conversion there was a need to widen the chassis to allow for the front up travel with the new setup, and also throw in a set of 2-inch body blocks to get the guards that much further above the wheels.

He’s running a set of 33×12.5×15 General Grabber SRLs on 15×10 -44 rims at the moment and has no plans to change them, due to the fact they’re a solid all-round tyre setup for the bush and the beach.

Barwork wise, there’s an Ironman Deluxe Steel Winch bar and a set of sliders from Patrol Customs to suit the body lift. Housed in the front bar is a Runva 11xp winch with a Prolink hook on the end of the line. And up top, there’s a ProRack Whisbar housing the Savanah 2×2.5m awning.

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On the sports bar in the tub is the Highlift jack, and 8-inch LED Floods on KC Mounts. Lights facing forward consist of a Korr 20-inch light bar and twin Narva 225 spots with HID conversion. Under the tray, Brett has thrown in a 125L Long Ranger fuel tank, with a slightly modified V6 Navara sender unit and a 255 Walbro in-tank pump. Inside he’s left it pretty standard, due to it not really needing anything. All you’ll find is the typical GME TX3500 UHF, B&M Ratchet shifter, Autotechnica bucket seats and more dynamat than you can poke a stick at.

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 Final Thoughts

All in all this LS1 and SAS swapped D22 Nav is a pretty mental play truck, whether it’s in the bush, up the beach or cutting laps to Macca’s. Suffice to say it drives exceptionally well through the ruts and bulldust, and just as well on the way home. A very well built truck Brett… it really is one of a kind.

Keep an eye on Unsealed4X4, as we’ll keep bringing you more crazy customs from our vault while we’re all on lockdown!