Discount 4×4 Beaudesert Rd – Pat Callinan (aka Mr 4X4) takes you step-by-step through his ultimate 4X4 (Amarok V6) by installing a chassis extension, lift, canopy and the world’s coolest beer keg.
Any great idea “why?” but this project started as “why not”? With so many highly modified Toyotas at 4X4 shows, I found myself asking, “Why Amaroks?”
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Of course, their conservative style doesn’t always fit the performance scene like the 79 Series or RAM’s brutal look. However, bones, in addition, bones, in my opinion, are particularly strong. Your typical double cab chassis has five crossmembers. The Amarok has seven on a hydro-formed chassis. It is very powerful.
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The 200kW diesel engine in the new 580 is especially tasty when matched to the eight-speed auto and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. That 79 series can only dream of that. But of course, I’m sponsored by a Volkswagen commercial, so I’d be lying if I said that didn’t play a role in my motivation. It’s good and I like to do things that others haven’t done before.
Still, every midsize two-cab has its limitations. Load the rear end significantly and you risk chassis stress or vehicle imbalance. The latter is more difficult to overcome. Sure, you can throw in airbags or heavy-duty springs, but you’re just hiding the physics. Go up a steep hill and the front end feels light and floaty, exposing the front wheels through the tiniest of openings. No, it’s better to put the wheels on the back.
Chassis expansion is more involved than you might think, but the results are great. Adaptive Manufacturing, led by Peter Eblen, has confirmed that mine is the first XXL Amarok in Australia. The longer chassis allows for all sorts of possibilities; More space in the back and better balance. But this also creates problems. The transition angle of the ramp is broken. The first few days of research revealed that Volkswagen does indeed offer extended chassis in other countries. In Europe they have been using them as ambulances for the last few years. New Zealand is also using this VW approved kit.
There are two extensions: 310 mm XL and 650 mm XXL. The kit itself is manufactured in the Netherlands by a company called Veth and then soldered by local companies. The bonus of this kit is that it’s not only well-engineered (courtesy of VW in Wolfsburg), it’s also covered by a factory warranty. Not to mention ABS, AdBlue and traction control, all of which have been modified to suit the longer wheelbase – the safety of the base vehicle is a huge bonus.
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I chose the 650mm XXL extension and this includes two additional cross members on the chassis. He currently has nine cross members. And of course, the tail shaft has been extended to accommodate an additional 650mm. Instead of using a new one, my original tail shaft broke and stretched.
Adelaide-based Adaptive Manufacturing has the exclusive contract to build Australian chassis extensions and they are setting up workshops across the country to meet demand.
My guess is that these kits will go on sale through VW dealers in early 2020 and cost between $9,000 and $15,000 depending on whether you want the extended tub or not. If you’re happy with the cabin chassis, you’ll save a few bob to put on your tray. And with the arrival of the new V6 manual, you can drive away in a range-topping Amarok for around $60k – a great value in my opinion.
If you bother to Google the standard Amarok with a 650mm overhang, it looks terrible. Put it this way; It makes a great mortuary. Belly hangs a sausage dog, which is great for walking down the road, but not where I want to go. The lift was essential to correct this rampover angle.
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The Ultimate Amarok then made its way to Melbourne and fell into the capable hands of Mark Dirnbauer of Net 4X4. Mark works from his large back shed and is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Amarok. In fact, they often try to eliminate technical solutions from distributors.
The brief I gave Mark was very simple. Please fit these 35 x 12.5/18 BF Goodrich KM3s. Oh and they don’t rub, so make and road legal. That last part was a shocker. There are some sneaky Amaroks running around the country with 35″ rubber, but I’m not sure they were designed.
Mark first started the process by jacking up the vehicle. The body was lifted from a 43mm chassis using a Southern Cross FabWorks kit. 43mm is the magic number you can lift the Amarok to before doing major surgery on things like brake lines and electrical connections.
Next was a large suspension lift using the Net 4X4 kit. To account for the weight of the Mark bar and screw combination, H&R uses cold-rolled heavy-duty rolls, and the studs have a 14mm top thread. Increases strength by 60% compared to standard 12mm top thread. The seat height is also adjustable, so you can accommodate extra lift or additional cargo. The Net 4X4 has its own damping rates built into the Bilstein struts. So, while the other settings look the same, the result is different.
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New upper control arms were also installed, creating more clearance for the rims and tires. UCAs have extra camber and wheels installed. And being tubular, they are strong and won’t bend. They also feature a greaseable upper ball joint, which is an improvement over the standard offering.
Raising the vehicle this far (we’re talking about a three-inch suspension lift) and not installing a differential lowering kit is a sacrifice.
Basically, we have no suspension travel and our CV coupling is maxed out. So a Net 4X4 diff-drop kit was installed on the front of the new unit, bringing the geometry back to normal.
The rear suspension was very simple. Amarok leaf springs are mounted differently than all other double cabs in that they are mounted outside the chassis (as opposed to directly underneath). This allows for a number of advantages, including better cargo handling and articulation, a better ride, and of course, more space in the tub. They literally ride like a roller. I upgraded the springs to 500kg heavy duty 4X4 leaf springs which gave the required height and load capacity. The springs are attached to the chassis using polyurethane bushings.
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The rear shock absorbers have been updated to accommodate the extra height and are 125mm higher than standard. Mark likes to use custom Bilstein shocks. They have a monotube construction. The problem here is that unlike twin tube shocks (Old Man Emu) they do not have a protective layer and will not work if threaded. This is a problem with the Amarok, as their shock absorbers are mounted forward of the axle, making them prone to rock strikes. To solve this, Mark increased the shock wall to a 3mm wall (as opposed to the usual 2mm wall), saving the need for a stone guard.
Now that the vehicle is lifted, we chose to install Delta 4X4 Classic 18×9 inch wheels with cosmetic beading. I love the look of these wheels, but it’s just not the look for me. You see, the +20 offset was the magic number we were hoping for to get the tires to fit and not rub in the arc. On top of that, I like that the Delta rims retain the original wheel studs (I’m not a fan of aftermarket studs that require the use of weird thin wall sockets.
So with the larger BF Goodrich KM3 mudguards installed and the suspension angles changed, Mark now had a chance to see how that affected the steering angle. As any Amarok enthusiast knows – it’s very much about it. The tire was basically touching the back of the guard, so Mark trimmed, cut, and then trimmed some more. A larger 47mm has been removed, giving the steering wheels full range of motion. I say almost because Mark also installed steering restraints to stop the tires rubbing against the chassis rail. Loss of steering action is negligible.
The inner wheel liners have also been modified to match the tires and a wedge has been cut near the Amarok’s floor pan. Bushwalker lights are installed, but instead of installing them in the traditional way; Nett used 4X4 Nutserts to attach directly to the body. So they don’t have to cross the water in between. Again, attention to detail.
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I usually go to my local ARB to get a Summit bullbar and a Bushranger REVO 10000lb winch, but I’m having trouble lifting the body. Direct bolting of the screw shows a gap of 43 mm and a