Welcome back to the ongoing tale of our budget 4x4 touring rig! In Part 1, we shared how we traded our way up from a single cab Triton Ute to a promising 2003 ZD30 Patrol. Now, buckle up and join us on a wild ride as we transform this diamond in the rough into the perfect family touring vehicle!
DOT Roadworthy Inspection Checklist in hand, we brutally critiqued the Patrol, and we soon realised it needed more TLC than initially suspected. Our first mission was to make sure this beast could pass the roadworthy inspection without breaking the bank—or our spirits. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work, armed with tools, determination, and an unhealthy amount of YouTube tutorials.
While my mind was telling me to focus on boring upgrades to pass the test, my heart was telling me to unleash the true off-road potential of our mighty steed; our list quickly turned into a combination of repairs AND upgrades. We tackled everything from tires, to flairs that prevent mud flinging all over the car (because who actually enjoys washing their car?).
But wait, there's more! We dove headfirst into the world of panel repair and chassis refurbishment, cutting and replacing rusty sections until it seemed like not one inch was left untouched. The result? A sturdy frame that could handle bumps, jumps, and the occasional suicidal kangaroo - all without breaking a sweat.
*A rusty section skilfully replaced by my father.
We weren't content with just the basics. So, we upgraded the suspension with a 3" lift and added drop-boxes for more flex than a juiced-up gym junkie. With our Patrol standing tall and proud, we were ready to conquer the wilderness together.
*3" Lift and drop boxes - before 33" tyres.
Safety was our top priority as responsible family adventurers. We made sure those seatbelts were in shipshape condition, ready to hold us tight for those bumpy trail sections (my wife, Olivia jokingly suggested a 5-point harness to make it easier to stay upright on those bumpy sections!). And because our little ones' safety mattered most, we installed child anchors, ensuring they were securely strapped in like astronauts ready for blast-off.
But we didn't stop at safety, we had some more modifications left to turn our Patrol into a lean, mean, touring machine. We equipped it with an EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) and boost gauge, because nothing says "cool parent" like monitoring your engine's performance with a fancy RGB gauge. And because communication is crucial, we added a UHF radio—perfect for off-road banter and "constructive criticism" to other drivers.
Power was essential for our camping adventures, so we went all out with a tri-battery system. One powerful lithium battery and a trusty secondary lead-acid battery ensured we had enough juice to power our gadgets, lights, and that all-important hot water system.
With the roadworthy inspection behind us, our Patrol emerged victorious, passing with flying colours after a valiant second attempt (let's just say we missed a few minor details the first time around—oops!). It was time to celebrate this milestone and embark on our first 4x4 trip as a family.
We chose the iconic Holland Track as our maiden adventure, and, what a trip it was! Our Patrol tackled the challenging terrain with ease, its new upgrades and repairs proving their worth at every turn. But no journey is complete without a few eventful moments to spice things up.
The Holland Track is notorious for its car-deep water holes that block the track in some sections. Joel, my brother was part of our convoy and definitely the most confident (or dare i say reckless?) member of our group. Although he appeared to be having a ball, he all too often plunged his own patrol deep into the water crossings, coming close to a stand-still several times. On one occasion he went a little too deep, and got stuck - quick. After a brisk swim and enduring exhaust gasses bubbling away at my face, and I was able to hook up the snatch strap for Dad to pull him out the way he came.
*One of the many car-swallowing water crossings.
Stay tuned for a full write-up on our Holland Track trip and more spicy tales!
Thanks for your viewership and support.
Isaac - All Set Outdoors