Several years ago a mate of mine showed me some power figures that a member of a 4WD forum was getting out of his 1HD-FTE (100 series turbo diesel Land Cruiser engine) using a custom turbo setup, running in a Lexus 4WD. I was blown away, but didn’t pay too much attention at the time as I was still driving around in a petrol Hilux which couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.
In 2012 this same person (Graeme) started Gturbo, a diesel performance company based in Perth, which has transformed a huge number of local, national and international diesel 4WD’s, including our very own 80 Series.
How did Gturbo come about?
Graeme’s been kind enough to answer this one; here’s his comment:
“As a kid I went for a drive in a farmers HJ60 powered by a 2H non turbo. I was in disbelief that anyone would want to use something so slow and noisey. I asked why and they said it used less fuel than the petrol equivalent and the fuel was cheaper. Ok so I had my answer and yet always wondered if the sacrifice was worth it.
At about the same time I was given a book for my 12th birthday on formula 1 cars. I was very interested in the engine sizes and quoted power. Some were 3499cc and 1499cc and I couldn’t understand in my 12yr old mind how the 1499cc engines made more power even though they were smaller. Well, it was 1985 and many were turbocharged….. Wow a miracle power increase….. the seed had been planted
I have always been interested in internal combustion engines and followed the history of them. Later when I could buy my own vehicle, my quest was to increase the power. After a few naturally aspirated engines I bought a small car with a turbo, EFI and a Haltech programmable computer. This is where I first did programming (1999), 26yrs old.
Detonation at 14psi was an issue so I added water injection which allowed an easy 18psi on 91 octane. But the detonation still bothered me and I realized Diesel engines were immune to it. Cool….. Unlimited boost…… But wait, poor boosting turbos and turbos that couldn’t handle high pressure. I thought, “imagine a diesel with a great turbocharger”, and that, along with the purchase of a HDJ81 Landcruiser was the impetus needed to make a difference.”
What does Gturbo do?
As the name suggests, Gturbo is primarily involved in replacing turbo’s with their own custom built ones to allow substantially more boost.
However, there is much more to successfully increasing the power and torque of a diesel engine than just fitting a different turbo (although Gturbo’s do make a difference with zero other changes!). Gturbo can upgrade fuel pumps, injectors, install chips, intercoolers and exhaust systems, and most importantly tune the vehicle to suit the modifications.
They also refurbish fuel pumps, and will tune based on your specific requirements. Not everyone wants the same sort of tune.
At the moment there are two models available for different vehicles; the Grunter (suited for low rpm response goals) and the Bad Boy (suited to midrange and top end power). All turbo’s come with a 12 month warranty.
Where are the turbo’s made?
All of the turbo’s are made in Balcatta, with the components designed by Graeme himself.
Diesel tuning at Gturbo
There’s not too many places in Perth that have Dyno’s, and even fewer who really understand the science behind tuning a diesel vehicle.. Gturbo uses a Dynocom AWD15000, with a single large roller for accuracy and all wheel drive capacity.
There’s a lot to get right in tuning a diesel 4WD, and whilst a few companies will do it for you in Perth, Graeme’s knowledge is second to none. Give him a call; I guarantee you will be impressed.
What vehicles do Gturbo work on?
Gturbo started off modifying Land Cruisers, and have progressed to a range of different vehicles including Patrols, Hilux’s and Prado’s.
Let’s start with one of the most impressive case study; a GQ Nissan Patrol race vehicle running a Land Cruiser 1HDT-FTE engine. Yep, you read that right; the old Nissan engine was ditched in favour of one of the best engines Toyota has ever made. This competes in 4WD competitions against highly modified V8 petrol 4WD’s.
A massive 1014nm and 214kW/284hp at the wheels at 2000rpm. ~800nm to the wheels between 1500-3000rpm. Boost is a minimum of 32psi from 1700-3100rpm. AFRs 17-18:1 start to finish.
Seem unbelievable? Watch the videos!
December 8, 2015 – 122% increase in power on VDJ79. 1VD-FTV + Gturbo Bad Boy Red VNT + GSL 100% kit goodies = from 118.1wkW -> 262.5wkW
December 5, 2015 – ZD30 CR and Di going from 79.0kW to 134.7kW on standard intercooler and air box with safe AFRs. Safe to over 35psi. Suitable for towing under continuous load/big hills/big caravan or trailer.
Nov 19, 2015 – VDJ79 dual cab Land Cruiser with 70km on the clock. After spending a day tuning in Dyno and road with DTE plug and play module, GSL exhaust, achieved 600nm to wheels at 1500rpm!!!! 69% torque increase 36% more power and a best run if 164.5wkW. Is so smooth to drive you would 100% think it’s factory power
Nov 13, 2015 – our race VDJ79 (221rwkw). This is a production class vehicle so we are very limited in what we could modify and only had 10 days to do it including an engine swap. The ONLY mods are as follows to get from 117rwkW to 221rwkW and 369wNm to 835wNm:
– Gturbo Bad Boy direct fit turbo
– high flow injectors
– front mount intercooler
– 3″ exhaust
– EGR blanking plate
– custom programming
Nov 8, 2015 – 80 Series Landcruiser 1HD-FT.
151kW/542nm to all 4 wheels on 35″ rubber and peak torque almost flat from 1600-2400rpm. To give you an idea on how good this is, running a 200 series the same way on standard tyres puts down 128kW/428nm at all 4. 27psi and ~ 21:1 afrs through mid/top. This is a beast. Mods include Gturbo Bad Boy spec turbo, tuned stock pump, front mount inter cooler, custom air box, 3″ exhaust.
October 30, 2015 – 2001 Patrol GU Auto Di ZD30 on 35″rubber pushing 153.4kW at Tyres with 21:1 AFRs!!!!! By far best AFRs I’ve seen at this power level on a 3 liter engine. Mods include prototype Gturbo Bad Boy kit (includes module), front mount intercooler, 3″ exhaust. This has been running around now, doing long trips and towing for 3-4 months.
Will be coming back in soon for retune and we will throw on a set of 31″ Tyres to see what it will do. We expect ~ 170kW as it sure drives like it. Very responsive. Makes 20psi at 1800rpm, 36-40psi by 2400rpm on road. Awesome towing ? Turbo capable of over 200rwkw.
October 3, 2015 – 2006 D4D Hilux with 280kkm and had a Gturbo Stage 2 turbo and a custom programmed DTE plug and play module fitted and no other mods. A nice 53% gain in power and torque and still managing ~ 19:1 AFRs. Boost ~ 27psi. No fan assistance on intercooler during run – tuned for worst case.
October 2, 2015 – 200 series Gturbo programmed DTE modules with no smoke. Dynoed in AWD, at the wheels improved from 127kW/429nm to 186kW/680nm. Represents 59% increase in torque and 46% increase in power.
For more case studies, check out Gturbo on Facebook.
Our 80 at Gturbo
I’d been following Gturbo’s progress ever since it started, and drooling over the ridiculous power figures posted online. A few weeks after completing 9000km to the Kimberley, I started our 80 series and noticed a bad diesel leak coming from the injector pump. Having heard so many positive things about Gturbo purely from a tuning and expertise perspective, it was an obvious choice to drop our Land Cruiser off to get repaired.
At the time, I was considering getting the turbo replaced, but was unsure of whether I wanted to spend the money. It’d been a dream for a long time to fit a Gturbo, and after some discussions I agreed to installing a Grunter Extreme turbo, having the injectors checked, pump overhauled and then dyno tuning the 4WD to suit the new setup.
Our 80 had a Safari front mount intercooler, standard air box, 3″ Beaudesert Exhaust and an old Safari snorkel, and was still running the standard fuel pump and injectors.
Unfortunately, as I delayed committing to upgrading the turbo, it wasn’t put on the dyno prior to the upgrades. However, it was tuned at United Fuel Injection on 31″ tyres and came back with 126kw and 374nM at the engine.
After Gturbo had worked their magic, the 80 was making 116.8kW and 400.4Nm at the wheels. The dyno result is below, which shows air to fuel ratios too. Since driving the vehicle the Exhaust Gas temperatures run cooler, and the additional power (around 35%) has totally transformed the vehicle. This is running the standard fuel pump too. I don’t know what the AFR’s were prior to the upgrades, but imagine they must have been worse. It’s running a maximum of 22 PSI boost, and hauls compared to before! To give you an idea, these are 115kW at the engine from the factory; that’s a 56% improvement (some of which comes from the intercooler and exhaust).
I’m told the post 92 model 1HDT’s are a slightly different engine, and will get up to 150kW at the rear wheels even with the standard fuel pump. One of the intake hoses on my 80 was a restriction too, as it kept getting sucked in!
In terms of Gturbo Reviews, I was absolutely wrapped. The difference was mind blowing, and a lot of fun!
Isn’t it risky?
There’s always some risk with power improvements, and I was aware of this when doing the install. However, with a recently rebuilt motor I was fairly confident I wouldn’t have any issues. Our 80 is used to travel to some pretty remote area’s, and I wouldn’t have fitted the new turbo if I thought it was going to dramatically reduce the reliability of my 4WD.
That said, I don’t believe there’s such thing as a free lunch. The manufacturers of vehicles over engineer their motors, so there is some room for improvements. However, push any motor too far and you’ll reap some nasty results.
The primary cause of damage to a diesel engine is excessive heat. This is usually caused by excess fuel, and often at the wrong time, and will result in things going wrong. Just because you are running higher boost doesn’t mean your engine is less reliable.
Graeme has been doing this for many years now, and will provide you with the information you need to make an educated decision. The correct air flow, turbo, fuel control and tuning make all the difference.
Blown head gasket on our 80
About 7000km after the new turbo was fitted, our 80 Series got warm for the first time, which it had never done before. Eventually, I found it was pumping coolant from the radiator when warm into the overflow, and not sucking it back. It would only do this over long, high speed trips, where the motor was sitting around 2000 – 2800RPM (and when the boost was around 18 – 22 PSI).
My mechanic diagnosed it as a leaking gasket at higher boost, and upon stripping it down he was correct – the gasket had a small piece of damage allowing the cooling system to be pressurized. I went the whole hog – brand new genuine head, valves and gasket, and things were back to normal, asides from my hip pocket, that was about $4500 lighter.
Now, the engine had been rebuilt about 100k ago, and was done by a reasonably reputable place, and I can’t prove the higher boost was the cause, but it would seem rather logical that it did put more stress on the motor. I have heard of a few Gturbo problems, but in general they seem to do pretty well and are highly regarded by many.
Fuel pump leaks
My 80 went back to Gturbo 3 times due to the fuel pump leaking. Now, this wasn’t really their fault as a business who they subbed the work out to messed them around, but it still cost me a huge amount of time and inconvenience (and probably diesel!).
Gturbo were great about it all, and even coughed up the money to re-do the work that was supposed to have been done, but it was a pain in the backside.
Would I recommend them?
When you have people driving across the country to have turbo’s installed and their vehicles tuned by Gturbo, you know they come highly recommended. However, there’s pro’s and con’s to every modification.
I didn’t have to replace the turbo, but am very glad that I did; our 80 series is like a new car. You’d have a hard time wiping the smile off my face every time I jump on the accelerator! The head gasket was a cost I could have done without, and I do suspect that the higher boost contributed, but I can’t vouch for the quality of the rebuild, and a lot of people have done some decent kilometres with no issues.
If you need a quality diesel tune in Perth, or you want to get more power out of your diesel, Graeme at Gturbo is worth a chat to.
How do I get in touch?
Gturbo are located at Unit 2/18 Abrams Street in Balcatta, Western Australia. You can phone them on 08 9240 8715 or 0401 524 399, or email them at [email protected]