With all-terrain tyres and a steel rear bumper fitted plus a winch mounted up front, it’s time we shift our attention to the protection of the BT-50’s underbody.
OBulletproof vest Set aside an hour
ur brand new Mazda BT-50 3.2 4x4 SLE bakkie (double cab, automatic) is steadily becoming a formidable overlander ready to take on any off-road adventure, thanks to our monthly Bakkie Project. We’ve already equipped this long-term test vehicle with a set of gnarly BF Goodrich T/A tyres, a steel rear bumper, bullbar and winch, and now it’s time to protect the underbody against the bumps and bruises the vehicle will invariably receive off-road. This month we make a fourth off-road modification to the gravel to go visit Dave and Sally on their farm, but when you start doing serious 4x4 driving you need superior protection against rocks, tree trunks, and the like to minimise the risk of damage to these important parts. We put one of Ironman 4x4’s protection plates on the Mazda. This model is perfect for the BT-50 and it fits in well with the design of the chassis. The ventilation and waterdistribution holes are also carefully positioned to ensure that air flow and the durability of parts are not affected. The plate is made of 3 mm steel (six times thicker than the standard plate) and is developed with the latest technology to ensure you don’t have to sacrifice weight for the extra peace of mind. Mazda and explain, as per usual, the importance of this specific modification. We also discuss how and why it was done, and how much it costs. As with last month’s modification, Johann “Tyres”Viljoen and his super-competent team at 1st Alignment Centre in Stikland, Cape Town fitted the plate. Because the protection plate was made specifically for the BT-50, the work didn’t take long and we could afford to wait on-site with a cup of coffee for Johann and his guys to finish the job. It was a simple matter of loosening bolts, removing the existing plate, and fastening the new one. Easy as that. The only difference between the standard plate and the Ironman plate is that the latter has an additional plate that terminates further towards the back and therefore offers more protection than the standard version. Your 4x4 has a few things on the underbody that you definitely want to protect – especially if you’re far from home. A radiator, differentials, oil pan, and transfer case, for example, are located here and it goes without saying that these parts are vulnerable when you go off-roading. The BT-50 comes with a standard underbody bash plate to protect critical parts, but it’s only 0,5 mm thick. It’s totally adequate for guarding against a pebble or three flung up when you’re driving on a stretch of