It’s been an incredible journey for this dangerously dumped Nissan Pathfinder, from scrap heap to “show ‘n’ street”… and it’s not finished yet. For as long as he can remember, Sean Bloemers has had more than just a passing interest in automobiles, even if by his own admission the early days were a little rocky. “My choices were a bit off when I was younger, having owned the odd Commodore or two”, he confessed. “As soon as I saw a car on hydraulics, I fell in love with the scene and the lifestyle”.
Sean had been working on a body-dropped Mazda with the works for about a year-and-a-half. He’d decided to fabricate an entirely new frame for it, something that would make the car stand out. The chassis build took approximately 12 months — on and off — and in the process one of Sean’s mates informed him of a 2009 Nissan Pathfinder that was at the local wreckers.
“It was a flood-damaged car and it was disgusting – I think there’s still mud on the hood-lining!” Sean explained, “The body was ‘mint’, though, and it was everything I needed for this project. I wanted to build a D40 Nissan Navara but when this car popped up I couldn’t pass it up. I always liked the shape of the Pathfinder”. With that, the boys put it on a trailer and carted it home on the back of a 4-cylinder Rodeo: “The ‘Deo didn’t like that!”
Sean admitted that he wasn’t planning on doing a full rebuild, but as the project progressed, it simply snowballed into a massive job. “Chris at BMV Engineering helped build and design it. He’s a Hot Rod enthusiast deep down, so he’s added a touch of his style along the way with the hole-saws and I-beams”, Sean explained, “We just wanted it all to flow and look as unique as we could make it. Everything on this frame is handmade by Chris and Titty. A lot of fabrication and skill has gone into it: oxy-cut, hole-sawed, bent, grinded, rolled, radius corners…”
At the time of writing this FreeStyle Rides feature, the Pathfinder was very much a work-in-progress. “I’ve still got the headache of deciding what sort of motor I’m going to put in it: Toyota 2JZ, Holden LS1… The options are endless”, Sean said.
What we know for certain is that this Nissan 4×4 resides on a chassis fully customised from the firewall back. In fact, 50mm were cut off the stock sills, then new sills were made so the Pathfinder lay completely flat on the ground. Even with its belly to the bitumen, Sean is still able to shut the doors and bonnet.
The rear seats were removed to make way for the extensive sheetmetal work, including the entire floor. To accommodate the monstrous 24×9.5-inch KMC Brodie wheels, the firewall, door jams and rear doors had to be tubbed.
Sean’s Pathfinder is dumped on Slam Specialties airbags; the chassis acts as the air tank and has been pressure-tested to 200psi. More specifically, they’re RE-6s in the front with custom adjustable plate arms. Out the back, RE-7 airbags work with the hole-sawed I-beam canti-lever set-up for the one-off, adjustable sleeved 4-link rear-end. The standard diff was shortened 50mm on either side, while the modified steering uses two Flaming River steering knuckles and a heim joint. There are one-of-a-kind adjustable upper arm plates, plus adjustable tow-in and toe-out on the bottom arms.
“Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in the day to work on the car. There have been plenty of times I wanted to quit, especially on those long days where nothing is going right”, Sean confessed, “But I came through in the end. I just realised if I set a goal, worked hard and had help along the way, then anything is possible”.
Sean says that he’s had a loyal support network behind him. “I’ve met so many people during this build and made a lot of new mates who’ll drop anything to help me out at any time of day or night”, he said. And what about the detractors? “Well, haters will always hate! There’ll always be someone out there that has to voice their opinion, but you just have to smile and laugh”, offered Sean, “At the end of the day you build a car to please yourself and any compliments along the way are just a bonus”.
“It’s definitely a big goal of mine to have my car at MotorEx as it’s the most elite car show Australia has to offer…”
To date, the Pathfinder’s been displayed at Mini Madness 2011, where it won the trophy for ‘Best Under Construction’. “It’s definitely a big goal of mine to have my car at MotorEx as it’s the most elite car show Australia has to offer”, Sean enthused, “But there’s a long list of things I want to get done before it gets there. I’m going to sheet the rest of my floor and do a pretty unique firewall. There’s still so much to do, though: brakes, driveline, motor, then finished in House of Kolor paint… I could just keep going on”. For Sean, his aim is to build a Nissan for show and street. “That’s if I can find a way around the Queensland laws”, he said cheekily.
Sean is keen to hold on to the Pathfinder for many years to come: “After it’s finished there’ll be no point selling. I’ll have spent too much on it – about the sum of a decent house deposit! More importantly, it’ll mean too much to me. You can’t get back all the blood, sweat and tears”.
Chris and Titty at BMV Engineering (Kunda Park, QLD) for building the car; all my friends who put in some big hours along the way; and my beautiful wife Carly who has endured all the days and nights without me.
Story: Elias Velis | Photography: John Churchill