The Mav, the big Mav and sometimes even the bloody Mav will be the work horse for this trip. A 1992 Ford Maverick.
The Ford Maverick is really a Nissan GQ Patrol. Ford sold Patrols as Mavericks between 1988 and 1994. This model sharing was a result of the Federal Governments Button Plan of the 80’s and 90’s. Apart from the trim and paint options the Mavericks and Patrol are the same. I tell everyone I own a Patrol. It is just easier.
I brought the Mav in 2008 in mostly stock form except for a after market turbo install by the previous owner. Since taking ownership it has been a constant work in progress. Never really finished and the want list always growing.
So what is so special about this car? Why spend all the time and money on this vehicle. Its a 23 year old car after all. Why not just up grade?
To me, it is one of the last real four wheel drives. With a full mechanical engine, manually gearbox and live axles it is tough and reliable.
Engine and Driveline
The Mav is powered by Nissans TD42 4.2 litre 6 cylinder diesel engine. This engine might not be a powerhouse but its simple design means its reliable. Behind the engine is a manually 5 speed gearbox and a transfer case with a high and low range. The differentials are housed in solid axles front and rear. The rear differential is a limited slip.
As said above the TD42 engine are normally reliable. But due to circumstances not the fault of the engine. This car is now got it’s third engine fitted since it left the factory. It a long and complicated story all stemming from a bad engine installed just before I brought the car. This particular engine never was right and had continuing problems with it. So once the decision was made on doing a big trip. I knew the engine had to get sorted once and for all.
So another engine was sourced and fitted. In fact from the radiator to the back of the gearbox was either replaced or rebuilt. A new 3 core radiator, water pump and coolant hose where fitted. Fuel pump was tested. Injectors rebuilt and glow plugs replaced.
While the engine was out the gearbox got rebuilt and new heavy duty clutch fitted. The clutch master and slave cylinder were also replace.
Once up and running, the Mav was sent away to a specialist diesel shop. They drove the car on a dyno, ran the engine in and gave it a tune. The results was amazing. It is a total different animal to drive now. The way it should of always been. The tune was kept at a safe level. Giving me a bit more pulling power but good on fuel. Hopefully that will the last of my engine troubles.
Suspension and steering
The Mav has a 3 link suspension system in the front and 5 link in the rear. With coil springs all round. The coil springs give a nice ride quality but the live axle and 3 link front end never really impressed anyone with it road feel or handling. It’s ok but compared to the latest independent suspension fitting to cars and four wheel drive now, it falls flat. But the simple and rugged design and ease of modification makes it the perfect off road touring setup.
The first modifications I did to the Mav was the suspension upgrade. A 50mm suspension lift. Which required new springs, shock absorbers and caster correction bushers. The rear springs have been changed twice. I upgraded to heavier springs on the rear a couple of years later to cope with the weight of the camper.
I have also played with the sway bars over the years. I only had the rears installed for a long time. But as I did less hard core wheeling the need for maximum suspension articulation was not a priority. But on road handling was. So a set of heavy duty extended length sway bar links were installed to give the Mav back some road manners.
After doing some damage to the steering it also got a bit of a upgrade. Heavy duty track rod and drag link were fitted. The front axle pan hard rod was also replaces with a stronger unit. I figure if you have to replace something then it gives you the perfect opportunity to upgrade.
Wheel and tyres
The Mav came with a nice set of alloys and 31 inch all terrain tyres. Which I ran for a number of years. In preparation for the second Cape York trip in 2011I upgraded tyres. The old tyres were fitted to the camper trailer.
A second hand set of 16 inch steel rims where brought off a mate. I then had the hard decision on what tyre to get. I figured a full mud tyre would be over doing it. But a all terrain was not aggressive enough.
I eventually made a decision and purchased set of 285/75/R16 Goodyear Duratrac’s. This tyre sits between the all terrain and the Mud tyre in Goodyears catalog. The best of both worlds. From the side the tyre looks very aggressive due to it side biters. But the actual tread is not that agressive. This size tyre gives the Mav more ground clearance but not a huge increase in width. It’s the tallest tyre legally I can be run on the Mav. It is roughly equivalent to a 33 inches.
A lot work has been done in the engine bay to try and use the limited space the best way possible.The first thing that was added was a second battery. A isolation solenoid to protect the starter battery was also fitted at the same time.
The solenoid has a override function that can be wired up to a switch in the cab. This gives the ability to connect both batteries together when ever you need. I did this and fitted large size cable between batteries. This can handle the current load pulled by the starter motor. I now can start the car off the second battery if needed.
I run all the accessories that are not original equipment off the second battery. The only exception is the winch. Next to the 2nd battery I installed a fuse panel. To fit the battery tray I removed the after market engine air filter box that was installed with the turbo system. I then sourced a filter box from a later model patrol. It fits snug in the LH corner of the engine bay. This freed up alot of space and is in the perfect place for the snorkel to easily connected to.
The fuel filter was moved to the RH side of the engine bay as well. This gave me room to fit a after market engine crankcase filter.
I have spent a bit of time trying to keep the second battery from getting hot. It sits very close to the turbo. I fitted a turbo blanket, used heat wrap on the turbo dump pipe and exhaust pipe and fitted a heat cover around the battery. I also moved one of the air condition hoses and a test port away from the heat of the turbo
When traveling the cab of the car becomes a second home. I like my home to be comfortable, tidy and functional. I have done a lot of work in side the cab of the Mav to achieve this.
Comfort is vital on big trips. There was three things that made a huge difference in comfort. First was strip the old peeling and purpled tint off the windows and get some good quality tint. The second was get the two front seats re-cushioned ,which by the time I got the car had a 16 years worth of bum time.
The third job is a little harder. Reducing noise inside the cab. To do this I striped the interior of the car and laid sound proofing bitumen matting to the floor pan. This made a huge difference. I also did the same to some of the doors. This is a on going process.
When it comes to storage it’s a matter of using every available space in the car. It amazing what you can store in all the nocks and crannies. Just don’t forget where to put things. You must also be able to get your gear easily. This is when a draw system in the cargo area win hands down.
I original built my own draw system which we used for many years. It had a space for the fridge and a section for the compressor and air tank. It had to be remove when Alec was born. The draws covered the baby seat tie down points.
After much research I purchased a commercial built system. The draw system came with the option of ADR ( Australian Design Rules ) approved child seat tie down points. Which are fitted to the back of the draw system. A cargo barrier and inbuilt fridge slide was also added at time of purchase.
Other Accessories in the cab
A number accessories have been fitted to the cab to help with travel and camping.
Up front is a UHF radio which has been installed into a roof console. The console also provides some extra storage and better lighting. Switches for a auxiliary engine fan, battery solenoid override, and the compressed all been fitted into the dash. A electric trailer brake controler has also been fitted.
In the rear is the 60 litre fridge which is tied down to the fridge slide. A 12 volt air compressor is mounted in the back corner bolted to the draw system. A LED strip light on the cargo barrier and a 12 volt cigarette charging point has been installed. These are all powered by the second battery. All with they own separate wiring and fusing. I extended the wiring loam for the compressor to allow for the switch to be in the dash. The charging point wiring is the same as the fridge circuit. This gives me a back up if there is ever a problem with the fridge circuit.
The Exterior of the Mav has also had it’s far share of work done to it.
One of the biggest killer’s of old cars is rust and the Mav is no exception. Its only recently that it went to the paint shop for a tidy up. Rust was starting to show up in the roof and gutters, paint peeling off the bonnet and two damaged front guards replaced. I can be a bit rough on the old girl sometimes.
At the same time the old bull bar was removed and tossed. I had bent this bar one to many times. I brought a 2nd hand bar. Added some extra antenna mounts, de-modified the mounts back to original ( had been modified to suit a body lift ) and had it power coated. This holds the 12,000 pound electric winch, antenna, spot lights and provides protection from wandering wildlife.
Talking protection a set of rock sliders have been fitted to the side of the vehicle to protect the sills. Which are also the side steps used for getting in and out of the car. These are attached to the chassis rails by a u-bolt arrangement. The sliders are strong enough to hold the weight of the car and have done so.
For some extra storage I have fitted full length roof rack. I brought the rack second hand in good condition except for the power coating peeling and some light surface rust. I sent it away for sand blasting and re-powder coated. On the rack I fitted a awning for a little extra shade.