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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.

Toyo OPAT II tyres feel at home on the slip­pery white stuff.

You get what you pay for. The cheap draw­ers have caused a few headaches, but noth­ing Deano couldn’t fix. One of the first things fit­ted: Narva Ul­tima 225 driv­ing lights. The canopy turned out pretty good. Not bad for a DIY job, eh?

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