After working on the Navara and Patrol, the team behind the Warrior performance push for Nissan Australia has its eyes on the ultimate halo car.

    It’s only a dream, but they cannot resist the temptation of a Nissan Z Warrior to mirror the impact and appeal of the Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato.

    It would ride higher, roll on off-road suspension and wheels, with enough body tweaking to lift it well beyond a regular Z coupe.

    “The Z. That’s the one we really want to do,” Bernie Quinn, head of the fast-car shop at Premcar in Melbourne, told CarExpert.

    “It’s a dream. We’d love to do a concept car with the Z.”

    Mr Quinn admits there is little chance of creating a ’Nissan Z Sterrato’, but said even the dream helps to fuel the passion for all Warrior work at Premcar.

    “There is no plan to do it. Sadly,” he said.

    But Mr Quinn has other Warrior ideas which could easily become a reality and told CarExpert he had identified several potential candidates in the current Nissan line-up.

    “It’s an extremely high chance. But even I don’t know what that model is yet. Or what the timing would be,” he said.

    “I think it has to meet certain criteria to get the Warrior treatment.

    “With some of those cars we cannot meet those targets. It’s one of those things. Some of the cars in the range we couldn’t improve their bandwidth.

    “You cannot take a Juke and make it into an off-roader. It’s not a car that has that capability built into the platform to be good off-road.

    “That’s not to say it’s a bad car, it just doesn’t have that capability.”

    It’s not just the vehicle itself, either, he said.

    “The other element is whether we can make a business case. We have to put the stuff into it, but do it so people can afford it and we can amortise it as a business,” Mr Quinn said.

    Mr Quinn is circling around the Warrior topic so, instead of identifying the X-Trail or Pathfinder as the next product push from Premcar, he talked about the effort needed to get the Patrol Warrior developed and into production.

    “At one point in time we started the discussion and the obvious candidate was the Patrol. It did seem to be the next obvious cab off the rank, after the Navara,” he said.

    “It made a lot of sense to everyone. The numbers made a lot of sense. It was a stand-out.

    “But it’s a really hard sell, and the gestation period has been a long time since Stephen Lester (former managing director of Nissan Australia) first announced it.”

    The creation of the Patrol Warrior has required a doubling of the production capacity at Premcar’s factory in Melbourne, but it is still trailing well behind the boom time at its closest competitor, Walkinshaw Performance.

    A tweaked Mitsubishi Triton has just been created by the Walkinshaw team, adding to the company’s conversion work for Ram and GM Specialty Vehicles, and the project to create a right-hand drive version of the Toyota Tundra.

    There are also rumours that Walkinshaw Performance is working on a right-hand drive conversion for the Chevrolet Suburban and a performance upgrade for the Isuzu D-Max.

    Earlier this year, company boss Ryan Walkinshaw told CarExpert that there would be three projects with new brands before the end of 2023, taking the company to six individual manufacturers. He would not give any details on makes or models.

    Still, if the talk about Chevrolet and Isuzu is right, it would match Walkinshaw’s hint.

    At Premcar, Mr Quinn said he is happy to continue the focus on the partnership with Nissan Australia.

    “We are always talking about it. One of the luxuries and benefits of this partnership is there is lots of dialogue between Premcar and the senior management team at Nissan,” he said.

    “It’s all been very positive. There is definitely no end date in sight and the discussions keep happening. That’s very encouraging.”

    Even so, Premcar is not just a one-trick business and Quinn said the company – which was born from the previous Ford Performance Vehicles operation – has never been busier.

    “We do a lot of work for other brands but, in terms of enhancements, it’s Nissan. They are number one and the only one at the moment.

    “We still do a lot engineering work for the likes of Ford and Talus and some companies overseas. We’re doing some work for Stellantis as well.”

    Paul Gover

    Paul Gover is one of the most experienced and respected motoring journalists in Australia. After more than 40 years on the automotive beat there is nothing he has not done, yet he still brings the enthusiasm of a rookie. He has worked in print, digital, radio, television and for every major publisher in the country. He is also a national motor racing champion and once co-drove with Peter Brock at Bathurst.

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