Jasmine Green’s HiLux mini-truck

Jasmine Green didn't let a lack of budget or professional tickets keep her from building an elite-level mini-truck all on her own

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes. For Jasmine Green, the need for a killer sled to haul her dirtbike led her to take a dunger ’91 HiLux farm ute and build this Top 20 Summernats stunner with her own two hands.

First published in the May 2022 issue of Street Machine

We often hear people say they ‘built’ their car, but Jasmine actually has. The apprentice motor trimmer and former barista handled the mind-bending amount of body and fab work, chassis build, custom suspension, LS swap, painting and trimming. And all despite not having any kind of background in the automotive scene.

“I bought the HiLux in 2012, and it was really rough,” she says. “My parents hate motorbikes, so I needed to find my own way to haul my bike. It was covered in enamel primer and had a really bad tray on the back, but it was my first car.” Things really clicked a new gear seven years ago, when Jaz decided to blend sheet metal from other Toyota models into the Aussie ’Lux (see more, below).

“The third-gen Toyota Surf front sheet metal I used was much longer than the original HiLux front end, and it threw the proportions way off, so this led me to extend the wheelbase of the HiLux,” she explains. “It was easier to build a new chassis than extend what I had. Then I had to cut the back wall to replace the section where the wheelarch used to be and replace it with the back of an Xtra Cab bodystyle.

“Since I was cutting up the back wall, I thought that I might as well body-drop the truck, lowering the body over the frame. This led to me needing new sill panels and redoing all of the wheel tubs, firewall and tub floor.” Jaz also had to work out new steering angles and sort out the 90-degree under-dash pedal box, which didn’t fit with the 50mm reduction in cab height. After shortening the pedals and mounting the box in place of the windscreen wipers, she then had a new issue – how to drive in the rain.

“I went to the local wreckers and found a rear wiper motor from an 80s Subaru, but it was completely wrong, so I modified the internal linkages to suit,” Jaz says. She then sourced a second Subaru wiper motor and had to work out how to sync the two. “I ran a micro-switch inside one of the motors to trigger the other one,” she explains. “The delay is very minimal, and they actually work pretty well.” The motors were short enough to fit back inside the scuttle panel area.

While she was extending the chassis, hand-making new panels and re-engineering the ute to ride extra low, Jasmine decided she may as well bin the stock anaemic four-pot in favour of an LS1 and T56 six-speed manual from a VU SS Commodore ute. To fit the alloy V8 around the K-frame, she modified the Moroso sump and knocked up a set of custom 13/4-inch headers, while a polished Weiand intake manifold adds some visual zing.

Jasmine then coated the truck in DeBeer Rescue Green herself, and it was around this time that she learned she had been awarded the 2020 Laurie Starling Scholarship for Innovation and Excellence in Fabrication. Jaz travelled to Summernats 33 to receive the award at our Street Machine SMOTY party, and it turned out to be an auspicious occasion indeed. In addition to the scholarship, she was also offered a job as an apprentice trimmer by none other than Greg Maskell of Maskell’s Customs & Classics!

Jasmine’s new job gave her the skills to give the ’Lux’s cabin a lush makeover. Toyota Surf front seats were fitted, modified with removable sheet-metal backs, while a heavily chopped-up D40 Nissan Navara bench occupies the back. To fit the VU SS gauge cluster and airbag pressure gauges, Jaz fashioned a custom sheet-metal console and modified fascia. The lower dash section was also raised for foot clearance following the body drop.

The stock vinyl door panels were replaced with custom aluminium and wood items with 3D-printed armrests, with a bespoke fibreglass switch panel on the driver’s side. The speaker enclosures in the rear footwell are made of sheet metal, as is the end cap behind the cut-down Toyota Surf rooflining. The whole shebang has been swathed in sumptuous two-tone brown leather.

In the lead-up to Summernats 34, Jaz decided to respray the truck in the Maskell’s booth, which inevitably led to a massive rush. But it paid dividends, with the HiLux scoring a spot in the fiercely contested Top 20 Elite.

“I was overwhelmed at the amount of people who appreciated the build,” Jasmine says. “It was an amazing sense of achievement to see my budget, home-built mini-truck in the Top 60 Hall with lots of big-dollar builds. Taking away Top 20 just blew me away! It made the whole build and final crunch worthwhile.”

Despite the ’Nats success, the HiLux’s show days are numbered; after all her hard work, Jasmine is itching to drive the hell out of the thing! “MotorEx is the last big show I want to do, because I’m sick of keeping it clean,” she says. “I drove the truck on an 800km round trip to the Grampians on the weekend, and I enjoyed every second of it! The whole bottom of my chassis and bumper is scratched, but that’s what it is built for – to be as low as possible.”


The amount of fabrication that Jasmine had to undertake on the HiLux is crazy, and means we really should consider it a custom more than a mini-truck. “I’m probably proudest of the sheet metal and the way I made the front end flow,” she says.

A Toyota Tacoma front bumper was adapted and cut to fit the narrower HiLux body, while a 2004 third-gen Toyota Surf radiator support was sectioned to fit the front end.

The bonnet is a mix of original ’91 steel and the third-gen Surf metal. It was welded though the back as well as the inner structure, and has been notched to clear the 18-inch front wheels.

The front guards were sectioned into eight pieces to add in the bodyline from the Gen 3 Surf. The HiLux’s scuttle panel was widened and the vents shaved, and the sheet-metal firewall, front wheel tubs and radiator in-fill panel were all handmade. The front doors use ’97-’04 HiLux sections with shaved handles and the bodyline extended.

The stock transmission tunnel and sills were replaced during the body drop, with a roof skin from a Toyota Surf wagon added for the full-length sunroof. The turret was joined through the middle and spot-welded into place, while a third brake light from a 2005-’15 ’Lux was also added.

The rear of an Xtra Cab body was grafted in to square the cab off, as the wheelbase had been extended and the tub lengthened to suit, including welding in the US-spec Toyota Tacoma bodyline. A pair of 1997-’04 HiLux tail-light buckets were welded into the tub, which also features a custom floor, tailgate skin and rollpan.

To improve legroom in the back seat, the rear floorpan was dropped down, while the rear firewall was sectioned and notched to suit the four-link arms and provide space for the air suspension tank.


Paint: DeBeer Rescue Green metallic
Brand: 5.7L LS1
Induction: Weiand intake manifold, 80mm throttlebody, custom twin intakes
Oil system: Moroso sump
Fuel system: VP Commodore tank, VU Commodore pump
Cooling: Mustang radiator
Exhaust: Custom 13/4in extractors, twin 2.5in system
Gearbox: Tremec T56 six-speed
Clutch: Clutch Industries
Diff: VP Commodore BTR78, Truetrac centre, Geelong Differentials billet axles,
4.11:1 gears
Front: Slam Specialties SS6 airbags, Pedders SportsRyder shocks, modified
steering, Drive Industries sway-bar, reinforced control arms, triangulated
lower control arms, billet hubs
Rear: Slam Specialties SS8 airbags, Pedders TrakRyder shocks, triangulated
Brakes: Nissan R33 Skyline four-pot discs and BA Falcon rotors (f), VP Commodore
discs (r)
Master cylinder: Maddat Motorsport Datsun 180B 1in
Rims: Billet Specialties; 18×7.5 (f), 20×8 (r)
Rubber: Bridgestone; 225/40R18 (f), 245/35R20 (r)

My boss Greg Maskell for offering me the use of the workshop and spray booth in the lead-up to Summernats; my fiancé Michael for teaching me the welding process and suspension design; everyone in the mini-truck scene; Mum and Dad for the occasional loan