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Old 04-14-2013, 05:27 PM
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Building an "Australian" Dodge A100 Pick-up

We were never lucky enough to have the 1960's A100, or the G or E vans/pickups, sold in our country. As best I can ascertain there are 2 or 3 here and that’s it. I spent my whole career insuring specialist cars and never came across one or even heard of one in Australia.

Being a Baby Boomer I spent my pocket money as a teenager buying American Hot Rod Magazines in the mid/late 60’s and lusted after an A100, just like the Little Red Wagon. Now I’m old and retired and can afford to import one the rules we have over here says I can’t have an engine in it larger than 5.7litres or around 318cu”. So why bother?

Given I can’t have what I wanted I looked around to see what I could have.



The above is a Mitsubishi L300 an ugly 8 seater van. Powered by a 1600cc 4 cylinder engine with 4 on the tree it was about as inspirational as driving a Honda. Mitsubishi and Chrysler had a close relationship in Australia, with the first 100 vans sold being called a Chrysler L300 before Mitsubishi took over the Australian arm of Chrysler.

These have a separate chassis that grants them more lenient modifying opportunities under our stupid modified vehicles laws.

I purchased a Holden Commodore with a 6.2litre Ls3 putting out 420hp with a 6 speed auto for $6,500 as an insurance wreck. After selling off what I didn’t want for $3,000 this gave me a very cheap engine and trans.



Following the wreck were two of the above vans (my neighbours weren’t too happy) and I went from there.

After attacking the vans with a 9” angle grinder and my MIG I came up with a pickup with reasonable proportions that I should be able to register as an “Individually Constructed Vehicle” which means it must pass current emissions and safety laws, quite similar to any advanced country’s rules.

This is the end result complete with my 19 year old son.



As you can see it has a certain early American pickup shape to it.
In the process I narrowed the rear of the chassis 200mm (8”) to fit the 10” wheels and 28x12x15 tyres. This necessitated a new diff housing which came from a Nissan Patrol and is as tough as a Ford 9” but comes with 11” disc brakes from the factory and are available here for a few hundred dollars. I narrowed the short side of the housing by 345mm (around 13”) and flipped the centre in the housing, as the drive is now counter rotating. I used a front diff centre fitted with the LSD from a rear diff (straight bolt in) to give me a low pinion diff rotating the correct way for my drive. I couldn’t just flip the diff as I needed the long side on (our) driver’s side of the car.

The original van had leaf springs but I changed to a 4 bar and panhard from the Patrol as they work well and are next to free. Rear springs are a set of front springs from the spare van and they seem to work well.

Front suspension is a well-designed independent system with smallish disc brakes from the factory. I upgraded the brakes with hubs from another Mitsubishi an L200, which bolts straight on and has 6 lug wheel mounting to match the Patrol, plus Patrol rotors and callipers which when combined with the Patrol master cylinder gave me good brakes at nominal cost. I had to machine the front rotors and make new dogbones for the callipers but nothing too hard.



The engine sits in the rear tray (rather than under the front seats) with the harmonic balanced right above the axle centreline. In the above photo it is temporarily wired for its test drive around our driveway. My wife is still unhappy about the burn out marks.

With the engine sitting facing the wrong direction I needed to send the drive to the diff somehow. I used a Patrol transfer case and drive a standard length Patrol tailshaft from the front drive output of the transfer. This sends the drive down beside the engine to the offset diff. The diff centre is exactly under the air-conditioning compressor in the photo.



I made a simple 10mm (3/8”) adaptor plate to bolt the trans to the transfer case and had a short spud shaft made to transfer the drive.

You may also notice the intake manifold has been spun 180 degrees as the engine looked a bit silly with the throttle body at the rear. This was much more involved than I originally thought and took quite a few days and lots of grinding and machining to get to work. I don’t recommend it.

The interior of the car has had a later dash fitted with a custom set of instruments. I plan on using two original driver’s seats as they mount easily and are already approved in part of my compliance testing. My engineer has specified a roll cage as he is concerned about the strength of the upper seat belt mounts now the body has been chopped. The rear braces for the bar will run through the rear cab wall and be sealed by some toilet fittings designed to couple the flush pipe from the cistern to the bowl. Nothing like creativity. Once I get the bar from the pipe bender I’ll install it and commence the approval process before I go much further with the chassis.

The load area will be finished with aluminium (aluminum!!) checkerplate.
At this stage we’ve test driven the vehicle on a private road and it’s pretty quick as it only weighs around 1650kg or 3500lb so it has around 2500hp per tonne power weight ratio.

An overhead shot shows just how big the engine is. The load area is basically full of engine and transmission.



Weight distribution is looking like 50/50 front/rear so it should handle quite well.

Those headlight rims that look a lot like A100 ones are in fact genuine A100 rims I imported.

As the car is no longer a Mitsubishi I get to call it what I want and I’m leaning toward FARGO. The reason behind this is my name is Rod Garnett and FARGO would be an acronym for F*%king Awesome Rod Garnett Original. Plus my late dad drove a FARGO when I was born. I know self-praise is no praise but it just appeals to me.

At this stage the only things I haven’t personally done are make the spud shaft for the transmission/transfer case, re-configure the engine wiring and shorten and re-harden the axle shaft. All other fabrication has happened in my garage and been done by me personally. I dislike “farming” stuff out and of the 3 items above the wiring was done incorrectly and I couldn’t start the engine until I sorted it out. The bending and welding of the roll cage will be number 4 that I haven’t done.

After 2 years of work the car is now at the point of having its final inspection by our Transport Deppt. to see if they'll register it. So far 2 Engineers have inspected, tested and approved it pls a safety inspection by another Engineer and now the Government want to inspect it.

As an Individually Constructed Vehicle the car must meet almost all current design rules applicable to a 2013 model vehicle. Very few are registered each year in Australia (perhas 50 or so) as it is hard to comply and the Authorities don't make it easy for you.

During the build I change the large back window (it was in the original tailgate) for a smaller window that looks much better.

I finally painted the car yellow as it just couldn't be red.





The interior now has air-conditioing, electric windows, central locking, remote door opening, cruise control, tilt steering, 7 speaker stero and a 5 way adjustable driver's seat. The original vehicle had none of these.

Now to pass one last inspection.

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Old 04-14-2013, 06:42 PM
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Very cool...I like it a lot. Try and keep the front wheels on the ground....lol
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:47 PM
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I second Ponch's statement. That thing is killer!
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:12 PM
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Reminds me of the old saying... "There is always a way!"

Can't find and A100? Build one! :-)~
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:17 PM
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Very nice , that is a way too cool . glad to see your son was involved with it.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:41 AM
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Took the car in for another isnpection toady and it failed

The inspection took a little over 2 hours with two Engineers inspecting the car.

They only found one major problem and a bunch of smaler things that ranged from a loose locknut on an unused shift lever on the transfer case to maladjusted headlights.

The biggie was the way I've mounted the rotors on the front hubs which I'm in the middle of buiding a prototype which should be finsihed tomorrow morning.

I plan on booking the car back in tomorrow afternoon so it should go though next week.

The test facility is for checking manufacturer's cars before they are released to the public to ensure they meet all our rules and guidelines. They were pretty thorough but nice guys all the same.

I figure the more people who inspect it and find faults the better the finished product will be.
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:14 AM
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Good for you man, I know the system is tough here, you got to beat them at their own game. You've done we'll and I like it.



Duke
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:35 PM
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A100s are cool and all but this is even cooler!
You pretty much built your own car from scratch!
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:30 PM
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that little truck is amazing...it really has the look and feel of the A......Love the aluminum plate in the bed!


JP
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:40 AM
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Took a step closer today with my State's Motoring Authority signing off on the vehicle so it can now proceed to registration and driving on the street.

I have it booked in for its safety inspection (all vehicles need one before registration) on Friday morning and hopefully by Friday afternoon it will have plates on it.

This is just in time for a Rod run on Sunday which will be around 150km round trip (90 miles) so I may just pack a few tools, credit card and mobile phone in case it doesn't want to go that far for a shakedown run.

This has been a long time coming!
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:11 AM
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best of luck with it...I just love this little truck!


JP
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:59 PM
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That's fantastic! A lot cooler than an A100. You did an awesome job of engineering to get what you want and within the regulations/restrictions. Well done!
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:22 PM
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Cleared the final hurdle today.

This is now one of very few (less than 50) cars that get registered like this each year.

We have really strict rules on modifying cars and the Engineers at our State Roads Authority spent many hours going over it but in the end they all wanted photos of it as it's pretty out there for an Australian vehicle.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:25 PM
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wow, what a good feeling that must be!....congratulations on your accomplishment...top shelf, man, top shelf!....

Im getting ready to do the same thing with my trailer project, but its a whole different story...theres a basic inspection to make sure it meets code for safety and thats about it!...(Im making a trailer from the back half of a Bimmer).....

again, congrats and enjoy that little truck!

JP
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:44 PM
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Things have moved along a bit now.

The car has a bit over 700miles on it and so far no real problems.

Last week end I entered it in Motorex 2013 which is Australia's Premier Custom Car Show in Sydney.

Here's a shot of it on the stand.



Most of the vehicles arrived on trailers with support vehicles carrying the equipment used on their stand/display.

The majority of the vehicles on display hadn't been driven or even started since they were built.

I arrived in the truck with all of my stand on board and no support vehicle.

A lot of people commented it was good to see something different at the show. The number who smiled and laughed was amazing particularly when they realised it was 100% street legal and being driven around.

Whilst at the show I was approached by Street Machine Magazine to do an article on the car.

I spent yesterday with a camera crew and Journo driving 70miles and taking heaps of photos.

All the hard work and planning are now paying off.

The biggest reward is just getting in and driving it.
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