CUS­TOM: MIT­SUBISHI TRITON ML

Is this Aus­tralia’s tough­est street-le­gal Mit­subishi Triton?

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS DANIEL EVERETT PHO­TOS NATHAN DUFF

Out went the 2in lift and 33s; in went a 5in lift and 35s

UP­GRADE or mod­ify? It’s a prob­lem that plagues four-wheel drive own­ers across the coun­try. On the one hand, you’ve of­ten spent so much money on your ride that the thought of start­ing over again will see your wal­let snap shut out of fear. On the other, you could be throw­ing good money af­ter bad con­tin­u­ally tweak­ing what you cur­rently have into what you cur­rently want. It’s a predica­ment that plagued Queens­land lo­cal Jarad Roberts deep into the third it­er­a­tion of his ML Triton.

Jarad’s Triton started life like so many other 4x4s. Just two years old when he got the keys, it re­ceived an al­ti­tude ad­just­ment of two inches with a set of 33s slot­ted into the arches. It made the per­fect beach-camp­ing rig, but wasn’t up to the job when pointed to­wards some of the more se­ri­ous tracks in South East Queens­land’s nu­mer­ous off-road parks.

Out went the two-inch lift and 33s; in went a five-inch lift and 35s. De­spite the large lift and larger tyres, the Triton still wasn’t ca­pa­ble enough for what Jarad was ask­ing of it. He toyed with the idea of sell­ing it and re­plac­ing it with some­thing more hard­core, but then he’d lose the com­fort and re­li­a­bil­ity he needed to take the fam­ily camp­ing.

The com­bi­na­tion of dim­ple-dried plate, tube sides and thick flares make the tray near-on un­break­able

A call to Greg from Out­cast Of­froad in Queens­land sealed the Triton’s fate. There’d be no more mucking around with the stock sus­pen­sion; it was to go on a hoist and be stripped back to a clean set of chas­sis rails, then it would roll out of the Burleigh Heads work­shop as a comptruck in tourer clothing.

First on the chop­ping block was the in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion (IFS). IFS is ideal for com­fort and han­dling, but it’s rarely as ef­fec­tive as a live axle when off-road. Where the old com­pli­cated set-up used to live there’s now a heavy-duty Dana 44 from East Coast Gear Sup­ply in the USA. It has been ex­ter­nally beefed up with brac­ing and a Solid In­dus­try diff hat, while the in­sides are shoe­horned full of 35-spline chrome-moly axles with Nitro Gear 4.11:1 ra­tios, wrapped around an Elocker. Be­fore the Dana 44 could go in, the front chas­sis rails were stripped bare, ready for the new brack­etry.

There’s a pair of cus­tom Pa­trol-style ra­dius arms with a cus­tom Pan­hard rod keep­ing the diff in place, while a

Pa­trol steer­ing box sends in­put to the D44 through a set of steer­ing rods from an early full-size Jeep Chero­kee. The whole lot is kept in check by a Fox steer­ing damper.

Of course, keep­ing the diff in place is only half the bat­tle. Welded to the chas­sis is a pair of cus­tom shock tow­ers that house 2.5-inch re­mote-reser­voir Fox coil-overs. They’re not only far eas­ier to pack­age than a tra­di­tional sep­a­rate coil and shock ar­range­ment, but they pro­vide lim­it­less tun­ing op­tions to get the ride qual­ity per­fect in all con­di­tions.

With the bugs ironed out in the front, it was time for Greg to wave his magic wand over the rear end. The lifted leaf springs work great for car­ry­ing a load but stum­ble when it comes to ar­tic­u­la­tion and ride qual­ity – two things you want in a rock-crawler-cum-fam­ily-tourer. With the rear sus­pen­sion so far re­moved from the stan­dard ar­range­ment, most would be sur­prised to learn Jarad’s Triton still runs the stan­dard rear axle: a huge 31-spline unit lifted straight out of the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Pa­jero, al­though now boast­ing an ARB Air Locker.

Hold­ing the mas­sive rear axle in place is a cus­tom three-link sus­pen­sion ar­range­ment, with the up­per link go­ing to an ex­ten­sive diff brace. Much like the front, the rear end is kept sus­pended via a set of 2.5-inch re­mote-reser­voir Fox coil-overs, al­though this time they’re mounted in­side a pair of tube shock tow­ers. Those with an eagle eye may have no­ticed the rear end is de­cid­edly stubby, as there’s been a whop­ping 400mm lopped off

Hold­ing the mas­sive rear axle in place is a cus­tom three-link sus­pen­sion ar­range­ment

the end of the chas­sis rails to dras­ti­cally im­prove the de­par­ture an­gle.

The Triton was slowly but surely mak­ing its way from fam­ily tourer to fam­ily crawler. The fac­tory tub and canopy, along with the fam­ily’s ex­ten­sive camp­ing set-up, went up on Gumtree, while Greg set to work sculpt­ing the stout tube tray based on Jarad’s de­signs. The com­bi­na­tion of dim­ple-died plate, tube sides and thick flares make the tray near-on un­break­able, al­though camp­ing du­ties have been rel­e­gated to the teardrop-style trailer the fam­ily now hauls be­hind the Triton. Un­der­neath the tray rests a sec­ond bat­tery and air com­pres­sor set-up, as well as spare tyre stor­age large enough to han­dle the 37in Maxxis Trepadors that Jarad fits for play. Street du­ties see the Triton wear­ing more rea­son­able 35-inch Mickey Thomp­son MTZS.

The visually strik­ing cus­tom bar up front is an­other Out­cast Of­froad mas­ter­piece. Built to suit the 50mm bodylift, the bar houses a 12,000lb Avenger winch and Hella HID spot­lights. The HIDS, a 42-inch quad-row light bar, LED re­place­ment head­lights and fog lights means the

The visually strik­ing cus­tom bar up front is an­other Out­cast O road mas­ter­piece

Triton punches out close to 70,000 Lu­mens of us­able light.

The TJM snorkel might give the im­pres­sion there’s a stock en­gine tucked away un­der the bon­net, but that’s only half true. On its first pass on the dyno the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel punched out around 230Nm at the rear wheels, de­spite al­ready be­ing fit­ted with a three-inch straight-through ex­haust and K&N fil­ter. An ECU re-map and dyno tune net­ted a sweet in­crease, with 500Nm now punch­ing through to the rear axle. Of course, that level of power doesn’t come easy.

A Chip It man­ual boost and drive con­troller lends a hand with the Exedy HD clutch and over­sized ra­di­a­tor to keep it all cool. Power is sent rear­wards through the stock trans­mis­sion, al­though Marks 4WD Adap­tors re­duc­tion gears get the Triton crawl­ing bet­ter than stock with im­proved en­gine brak­ing for steep down­hill tracks, even with the 37-inch tyres.

De­spite the ex­ten­sive mod­i­fi­ca­tions, Jarad doesn’t hes­i­tate load­ing up the fam­ily and head­ing off for an ad­ven­ture with the camper in tow. There’s a mod­ern stereo, power steer­ing, cruise con­trol, ABS and air con­di­tion­ing, and the whole thing is en­gi­neered and com­pletely road-le­gal. In fact, the only thing Jarad re­grets is not build­ing it right from the first day he got the keys.

There’s been a few hur­dles and changes of di­rec­tion along the way, but Jarad now has a 4x4 that will do it all, from hard­core rock crawl­ing trips through to peace­ful beach camp­ing with the fam­ily. How­ever, that’s to be ex­pected from what is un­doubt­edly the best road-go­ing Triton in Aus­tralia.

Greg from Out­cast Of­froad made the tough tray from dim­ple-died plate.

An air com­pres­sor, spare tyre and sec­ond bat­tery re­side un­der the cus­tom tray.

The Triton’s now ready for any­thing, from high­way cruis­ing to hard­core rock-crawl­ing.

A dyno tune and ECU re-map of the stock donk yielded a mas­sive torque in­crease.

The Triton re­tains mod cons like air-con, stereo, cruise and power steer­ing. A Cur­rie An­tirock sway bar helps con­trol the ride at the rear, de­spite the al­ti­tude in­crease.

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