Back to top

DOWN & DIRTY PROJECTS: Land Rover, Mitsubishi Pajero & Kia Sorento

17 October 2016

Our Deziree, the Landy, has been gathering dust at ONCA 4×4 in Kempton Park while the custom new hatch was cut and specially shaped for that original equipment look. After our Mitsubishi Pajero took some shots on the recent Road to Hell mountain pass expedition, Front Runner provided some TLC. And, the Kia Sorento project vehicle returns for some refinements before an overland adventure.

The Landy
When you are considering restoring an old vehicle, know one thing: unless you are Bill Gates who can hand over a blank cheque to a custom shop and tell them to just get your 4×4 done and leave all their other work, progress is more often than not slow and tedious. Small details sometimes turn out to be time-consuming processes. However, if you deal with a professional outfit such as ONCA 4×4, you know that the small details are their pride and joy. So instead of slapping on a so-so hatch that may last for a year or two, ONCA’s Len Nel prefers to do things properly, and produce a custom metal hatch that will be 100% waterproof and that will outlast the Landy, too.

And so, a spanner in the works: when the contracted company that cuts the metal hatch to size and folds the ends according to ONCA’s specifications, delivered the finished products, the parts turned out to be incorrectly shaped. Instead of trying to make a plan and just fitting the parts anyway, Len sent them right back – to be cut and shaped exactly to his specifications. Alas, this meant our production schedule went a bit pear-shaped. So once again, we’re behind with the restoration. But as mentioned, we’d rather do a proper job than a slap-it-together one, so we just have to pull up our socks over the next month or two.
More information: Tel: 011 979 2690/0150; email:;

The Mitsubishi Pajero
We recently headed to the Northern Cape and the Road to Hell mountain pass, to drive a Foton Tunland bakkie. To tackle this expedition with only one vehicle would have been foolhardy, so we roped in our accessorised Mitsubishi Pajero for back-up. The upgrades fitted to the Pajero just before the trip included Front Runner protection plates for the engine and transmission, a Slimline II roof rack with jerry cans, a water tank (with piping and tap), a rather huge axe, a shovel, and an LED working light at the back.

Since there was a good chance we had to camp next to the river, in the midst of a cold spell, we carried extra camping gear in the boot (with the rear seats folded flat). However, the big test was the 4×4 pass.  With the Super Select II 4WD system, the Tough Dog suspension and a rear differential lock, the Pajero ambled down the pass with relative ease. Going up proved a lot tougher – especially the one section with a massive rock, a solid rock face on the left and a drop-off on the right. Unless you drive a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen with differential lockers on the front and rear axles, you can’t just crawl up that section at a snail’s pace. The only option was to give it a bit of boot… and in spectacular fashion, with the front wheels pointing heavenward, the Pajero essentially wheelied up the rock. The photographer was so shocked at the sight, he forgot to take the snap! Coming down to earth (or rock) after the wheelie, the rock slider on the driver’s side took a massive knock – but did exactly what it was supposed to do and protected the Mitsubishi.

The impact did bend the slider slightly, so we booked the Pajero in at Front Runner for the metal part to be reset. Considering the impact on that rock though, the rock slider did a great job of, well, doing its job.
More information: Tel: 011 466 0155;;

The Kia Sorento
Earlier this year, we transformed a Kia Sorento 2.2CRDi AWD into a bit of an overlander. Since then, the Sorento has been doing the rounds at shows and at Kia dealerships. The Korean 4×4 will soon embark on an overland trip to Botswana, and then join the annual Leisure Wheels Safari, which this year heads to the Northern Cape.

We were due to replace the fancy XD Series Rockstar II rims, as supplied by Racing Hart Concepts (RHC) and Pirelli Scorpion ATR all-terrain tyres with the original 17-inch rims and tyres, but with the upcoming trips, the stock items were certainly not ideal.

After considering various options, we’re going to stick to the XD Series rims and Pirelli all-terrains to add some extra clearance and more rubber between the off-road tracks and the rims. We’ll reveal how the Kia fared on an overland trip over the next few months.
More information:; Tel: 011 832 1177;