update PROJECT SCORPIO
The RIGHT stuff?
All good things come to those who wait. It’s an old saying that we have found quite applicable in the business of customising vehicles. It’s a process that simply can’t be rushed. Project Scorpio – our budget overlander – is just about done. So this month we can give you an idea of what it looks like
Text: Danie Botha
Photography: Jannie Herbst
Imagine Springbok stalwart Bakkies Botha admitting in public that he likes to paint his toe nails pink. It ain’t very likely.The same could be said about drivers of bakkies with names such as Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and so on, admitting that they actually like a Mahindra Scorpio. Rather unlikely, right? Yet it does actually happen.The owner of an Isuzu KB300 recently admitted that he had always loved the look of the Scorpio, but had never driven one, simply because it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
It comes down to perceptions.
No, the Mahindra is probably not the best looking bakkie around. It’s not the most refined, not the most modern, not the fastest, and not the most economical, either. But it is affordable, and you get a lot of bakkie for not much money.Enter Project Scorpio, our budget overland 4×4 bakkie that is causing a bit of a storm!
We recently had our first look at the newly improved Project Scorpio at LA Sport’s Pretoria North head office. Although we are keeping a few tricks up our sleeves for the unveiling of all the upgrades, we can now reveal the new front-end design of this Scorpio.
A custom-made LAS Pro bullbar replaced the mundane standard item. The bar is fitted with a TJM OX 9500LB winch, fog lights and a set of powerful Cibie spotlights. A custom bash plate has been mounted just under the new bullbar.
The snorkel is a TJM Airtec unit, and it adds further off-road credentials to the Scorpio Pik Up. Interestingly, the snorkel has slightly changed the note of the 2,2-litre engine. It has a more burly, Bakkies Botha kind of sound! It’s not an intrusive noise – just a lekker one.
And lastly – for now – is the Frontrunner Wind Cheetah roof-rack that is also part of the upgrade.
Next month: We take the completed Project Scorpio 4×4-ing. And we reveal all the upgrades and changes, and how much they have cost.
READERS HAVE THEIR SAY ABOUT PROJECT SCORPIO
A serious 4×4!
I’m very interested in what you are doing with the Mahindra Scorpio – I’m now on my third Mahindra SUV. I’m also busy upgrading my vehicle. I’ve already added differential locks for both axles as well as air suspension at the back. I’m also very interested in the new bullbar LA Sport is developing – it should fit the SUV version too, I presume?
I also wanted to know where I can get hold of the rims on your bakkie? I’ve been looking for a long time for suitable rims for my bakkie, without any luck.
And lastly, I really like the idea of turning a Mahindra into a SERIOUS 4×4.
Jacques Fourie, via e-mail
You can contact you nearest LA Sport branch for more information on the products fitted to Project Scorpio. Also visit www.lasport.co.za for contact details. If all else fails, you can contact Louis van Niekerk from TJM Products SA and the LA Sport headoffice at 012 751-0877 or [email protected].
We’ve done it!
Following your article about the Mahindra Scorpio overlander, we would like to show you our 2005 Mahindra Scorpio SUV that we built to tour through Africa.
We have a company called R&M Bakkie Spares in Fochville, Gauteng, which specialises in Mahindra rebuilds and spare parts, so when we had to decide on which vehicle to use there was no question about the Mahindra Scorpio.
We made numerous modifications but the undercarriage stayed original and we were very impressed by the strength of the 4×4 gearbox and diffs.
The tyre size is 35×12.5 and we put in spacers between the body and chassis to make space for the wheels. We lifted the engine by 150mm and fitted three Mahindra fuel tanks underneath the vehicle. The fuel capacity is 200 litres of diesel.
LA Sport in Vanderbijlpark fitted our roof-top tent, drawers inside, fridge/freezer, TJM winch, roof-rack and also built a deck, serving as a bed for our two daughters.
It was a very expensive exercise, but there are more cost-effective ways to obtain the same result. For us it was a case of trial and error and a lot of hard work, but in the end it was worth every cent spent on it.
Riaan & Maryka Eleveld, Fochville
Whoohah! That’s one big-wheeled Scorpio SUV!
Keep it (diff) locked!
At Mahindra Centurion we have been enthusiastically following the story on the Project Scorpio since last month’s issue and are very excited about it.
We have a supplier that specialises in the various Mahindra differential systems and have done wonderful conversions on these for some of our clients. Phone Mike Swann (082 569-4183) or mail him at [email protected]. I am sure he will be able to assist you with valuable information on the various differential lock options on the Scorpio.
We thank you for your interest in our product and can’t wait to see the end result! Keep up the good work.
The Mahindra Centurion Sales Team
Thanks for the info! For now we are sticking with the standard rear diff lock though, to keep costs down. If we find that the bakkie struggles in an off-road environment – which we doubt – we will certainly give Mike a call.
To tune, or not to tune
I drive a Mazda 2.5TDi double cab, but have always found the Mahindras fascinating. I’ve test-driven the 2.5 and 2.6 and found the performance very similar to that of my Mazda, that hails from 2002.
However, the 2.5 has a lot of turbo lag – the sales person said that it had come straight from the factory and needed some “fine tuning” – which gives me a idea for your project: How about sending your 2,2-litre mHawk version to Steve’s Auto Clinic (SAC) or someone similar just to see what their findings are, and to see if they can indeed come up with something?
Sean Kinnear, Ruimsig
Thanks Sean, you raise a valid point, and one that we will most certainly investigate.
If you also want to have your say about Project Scorpio, make a suggestion, or need specific information, or if you just want to touch bases on overland bakkies, send an e-mail to [email protected].