IT’S BEEN quite some time since the last update on my D22 Navara, so here’s a recap: It was bought secondhand in mid-2013 and was totally standard other than an OE sports lid, tub liner and an engine immobiliser. Since then I’ve slowly been modifying it to better suit my needs.
First up I fitted the 2008 Navara with a set of Toyo Open Country A/T II (OPAT II) tyres, followed by a steel Nissan bullbar, Narva Ultima 225 HID driving lights, Oricom 5W UHF radio, and then a Tough Dog suspension system.
For a previous job, editing Australasian Dirt Bike magazine, this set-up worked well; it only took five minutes or so to whip off the sports lid if I wanted to haul a couple of bikes around. But I haven’t been doing much riding lately, so I sold the sports lid on eBay for a couple of hundred bucks and bought a secondhand ARB canopy for $400.
Other than paint, the canopy was in great condition, and it came with flip-up windows on both sides and a full set of working locks and keys. Located about 100km from home, I strapped the canopy down securely to the back of the Navara and took it home to give it a freshen-up. I sanded it back and headed off to Autobarn to buy some paint.
Originally I was going to spray it using my air compressor set-up, but without a lot of experience using this method I ended up asking the bloke at the counter to mix up the colour and supply it in aerosol cans. This may have cost a little more but I felt a lot more confident I’d get the result I was after.
After taping up the windows and badges, I applied three coats of primer, three coats of colour and three coats of clear, and I reckon it turned out pretty well. I then bought some new rubber seals and fitted the canopy to the tub, set about sorting the wiring for the interior light and the high-mount stop light, and fixed a sticky window lock by squirting it full of graphite powder.
Next up I fitted a set of el cheapo Chinese-made drawers, which came with a built-in fridge slide. For less than $500 they’re not bad, with double roller bearings on the drawers and a reasonable finish, but the old adage you get what you pay for still rings true as the drawers aren’t particularly deep, they weigh in at a hefty 100kg, and the bolt to secure the fridge slide is useless (I replaced it with a $10 bolt from Bunnings).
After securing my old Engel to the fridge slide I headed down to see my local auto sparky to have a 12V power outlet fitted in the tub. I’ll fit a dual battery system sometime soon, but I haven’t decided between a deep cycle battery in the engine bay or one in a portable power box.
While the Tough Dog suspension kit (new rear leaves and 41mm foam cell dampers front and rear) had already improved ride quality markedly, the extra weight of the canopy and drawer system now makes it feel like a magic carpet ride. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a standard unladen D22.
Toyo’s technical manager Stephen Burke has been keeping a close eye on the OPAT IIs and had originally suggested I run road pressures of 35psi up front and 32psi in the rear when the Navara was unladen; this produced the best possible ride quality and even wear across the tread. Since fitting the canopy and drawer system, I’ve been running 35psi front and rear on the road.
I rotated the Toyos at 10,000km and added the spare to the mix. So far they have shown minimal wear, have provided exceptional on-road performance (wet and dry), and have exceeded my expectations off-road. Grip in slippery conditions is much better than the modestly aggressive tread pattern suggests it should be, and a long drive on icy roads on a recent snow trip resulted in reassuring feedback and plenty of traction.
Other than the aforementioned dual battery set-up, I still want to fit a snorkel to the Navara, and perhaps an electric winch – and maybe a locker. Other than that, I just need to find the time to get out there and enjoy it.
4X4 SHED: SPECS
Total km: 102,300km
Date acquired: July 2013 Price: $20,000
Km this month: 1500km
Av fuel: 11.0L/100km
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