He’s no DIY expert, says Nico. The first time he got a taste of it was when he used a lifting kit on his vehicle and had to move the bumper and radiator.
Nico, a production manager at a shoe factory, jumped in and did the hard work himself. That’s when he realised he enjoys tinkering with his vehicle. Soon, he decided to build his own bull bar, because he found most of the commercially available ones either too big or clumsy looking.
How did you plan the project?
I researched the matter well and checked out the different options available. I had a picture in mind when I removed the bumper and got going.
I built a full-scale model out of cardboard to get the right measurements and proportions. After removing the model from the truck, I made holes for the radiator and mapped out where to mount the high-lift jack.
I adjusted the shape of the bar at the top, making it rounder until the look appealed to me.
What makes your bull bar different from what you could have bought?
I took three things into account in my design.
My bull bar weighs just 30 kg, and while that compares favourably to what’s on the market, it’s still much lighter than some of them, that weigh up to 60 kg.
Apart from that, I wanted to give my vehicle the best possible approach angle. Some of the commercially available bull bars are really low, which influences the approach angle. My bull bar is mounted higher than any you could buy.
Lastly, I didn’t want it to protrude too far. In my opinion, the bull bars on the market are too big in that department.
Did you have help?
A friend of mine, who works for a steel engineering company, helped me with the computer drawings according to which the metal was cut. They gave me the steel and labour for free. They estimate the cost would have been around R6 500.
My three-year-old daughter, Danelle, was very helpful with the model building while I was lying underneath the truck. Whenever something went missing, I’d go look through her toys.
And what are people’s reaction?
Initially my friends weren’t very impressed that I was spending weekends working on my bull bar instead of going out to play with them, but now they’re chuffed. In traffic I also get a pretty good reaction.
How’s the drive?
With my heavy-duty Old Man Emu torsion bar suspension, I don’t even feel a difference. However, I feel more confident off-road now that I have the new bull bar, because with the old standard-issue one, I always felt as if I might damage it or knock it off completely.
What material did you use?
I used 2 mm inner-sole board for the model, which you can get at any shop that sells stuff for making shoes or leather goods.
The bull bar is made of 3 mm steel, and the mounts of 8 mm steel.
To build the model I used a steel rule, pencils, compass, Sellotape and a pair of scissors. For the bull bar I used a welding machine and clamps, and for the finishing touches I hauled out a grinder. Afterwards I had it spray-painted, which cost R850.
What DIY experience do you have?
None, really. Moving the radiator and bumper after lifting the truck was a first, and made me realise that I enjoy this kind of project. My wife says I’ve missed my calling – even though she had to say good night to me in the garage a couple of times.
Is there anything you’d have done differently?
If I were to get a different vehicle I might change some things, but this one looks good on the Colt and I wouldn’t change it. Besides, it’s the only Colt in the world with this particular look.