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The MightyBoy - is it restoration or Hotrodding?

4 years 2 months ago - 4 years 2 months ago #209884 by Zuffen
If nobody likes this blame Lang, he suggested I post it up. These are desperate times!

A MightyBoy fits in this Forum as they are almost 40 years old and a Commercial Vehicle. They are, in fact, the smallest Ute ever sold in Australia.

My youngest son Lachlan wanted a MightyBoy to play with. He has an Mitsubishi Evo VIII and a motorbike so this is just a toy. I should mention he is 6’ tall and weighs in the 90+kg area so he’ll fit in just fine. Not.

He found a sad MightyBoy on Facebook for $300.00. This was January 2017.

The car came almost completely dismantled with plenty of rust and no engine, gearbox, radiator or driveshafts.

What to do?

Firstly I’ve built cars for the last 50 years and have an ICV under my belt and plenty of engine swaps, plus race and rally cars, so I wasn’t too afraid to get in and have a go.

We decided it was pointless keeping it standard and thought an F8 engine (800cc out of an Alto) would be the way to go. The problem was they aren’t easy to come by and most likely would be well worn and still didn’t have much power.

The solution was use a Daewoo Matiz engine and transmission as we it was almost possible to fit and it looked pretty straight forward.

However we thought we would be a little more daring and use as much of the Matiz as we could. After all once you buy the donor car the bits you use are free.

In the end after a lot of measuring and discussion we opted to use the Daewoo floor, firewall and complete front structure.

This would allow us to use the Matiz front suspension, all the wiring, complete unaltered power assisted brakes and we didn’t have to worry too much about making engine mounts etc. Another advantage was we could cut out most of the rust in the MightyBoy.

As the Matiz was built in 2004, it’s fuel injected and I would rather work with electronics than carburettors.

Additionally the car is structurally a lot stronger than the MightyBoy. The floor even incorporated side impact protection.

The airbags had to be deleted. They could have been retained but the Engineer wasn’t very enthusiastic about that. Something about they could go off if we hit a bump too hard.

We figured if we stuffed it up we didn’t stand to lose much and we could salvage some money by selling off the body panels as rough as they were.

So this is the MightyBoy we started with.


Then the Matiz arrived home on the trailer for $400.00. The car had 1 month’s rego and a blown clutch.


We did find a small bag of ice under the driver’s seat, but that was flushed down the toilet.


We commenced working on it late February 2017.

A day or so of stripping and cutting and we had the Matiz looking like this. I guess there’s no going back for the Matiz.



Another day and MightyBoy was in a simillar state. Same deal as the Matiz, there’s no going back.

I don’t think the MightyBoy could have been saved as the rust in the plenum was just too extensive so we haven’t ruined a good MightyBoy, rather we’ve saved most of the body of one.

Funny we didn't get a photo of the MightyBoy hacked up.

Hmm, they don’t fit together all that well. No trouble, just turn the floor of the Matiz up to lower the floor level by 45mm and all should be fine.
We left as much of the Matiz as possible to allow us to fold sections over each other so we could both seam and plug weld the parts together. The main issue was maintaining the wheelbase and keeping the two parts aligned to ensure the caster remained within reason and that the wheels lined up.


After a bit of welding the two half-cars were one and it looked workable.

Our first real problem was the scuttle height on a Matiz is over 100mm higher than the MightyBoy. We gained 45mm in dropping the floor and simply sliced the top off the Firewall and figured we would sort it as we went.

Last edit: 4 years 2 months ago by Zuffen.
The following user(s) said Thank You: IHScout, PeterE, bparo, cobbadog, Lang, Mrsmackpaul, invested energy, PaulFH, wee-allis, PDU and 2 other people also said thanks.

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4 years 2 months ago #209888 by bparo
It doesn't matter what you call it - Hot Rod, Resto Rod or restoration. The vehicle sounds like it was too far gone to be a viable restoration.

I am waiting on the arrival of an HZ Holden one tonner with a 350 Chev (which they never came out with). It hasn't arrived yet due to the Covid-19 restrictions causing travel issues but it should be here within 2 weeks. It also has another couple of small modifications which make it more usable for the wife and I. I would not make those same modifications to the XP as it is too complete and original. At the end of the day it's another old commercial vehicle on the road and that's the important thing

Having lived through a pandemic I now understand all the painting of fat people on couches!

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4 years 2 months ago #209892 by IHScout
Wow! I wish I had half the skill and vision to do something like that. The mighty boy is an iconic little ute and worth the effort. Good on you Zuffen for putting the story up. I'm looking forward to hearing how it progresses. And thank you Lang for the prompting


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4 years 2 months ago #209901 by asw120
These sorts of builds blow my mind. While the vehicle itself doesn't interest me, the build process very much does.

Thanks, Jarrod.

“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them”

― Adlai E. Stevenson II

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4 years 2 months ago #209910 by Blackduck59
Heard of a Brumby getting the WRX treatment so this sounds fine to me.
A lot of work but should be a beast. Mighty Beastie Boy
Cheers Steve

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4 years 2 months ago #209930 by Mrsmackpaul
Pretty cool stuff
I like this type of stuff far more than most, it really makes the grey matter work and is so much harder than a normal hot rod or resto, not saying either of those arent hard

Bobs boy started down this track with a Jap ute and was gunna graft maybe a old Dodge truck (dont quote me on that, I cant remember exactly what happened, think what was goverment rules as it was gunna mainly new with a older cab

Very keen to see this move along


Your better to die trying than live on your knees begging

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4 years 2 months ago #209947 by Zuffen
A bit more of the story.

The whole MightyBoy plenum assembly for the heating/fresh air was junked, leaving just the upper skin of the scuttle intact. We made up a new bottom for the scuttle to fill in between the bottom of the windscreen and the Matiz scuttle so we still had fresh air entering the vehicle as Suzuki planned but joining up with the Matiz heater system.


We had to make provision for the wiper spindles to pass through this panel but remain watertight, as wet feet weren’t on our agenda. Rainwater drains out the side of the scuttle using the original MightyBoy scuttle end under the bonnet hinges. The bonnet hinges had to go so we had to sort out how to attach the Bonnet.

Once we had the air intake sorted we mounted the wiper mechanism with a modification that allowed us to use the Matiz wiper motor (so it would plug and play with the Matiz loom) on a fabricated bracket. This looked pretty good but had poor access should it ever go wrong, and it did. After we had finished the car and installed the wiper arms we found the wipers parked in the upper position instead of the bottom of the screen. Dumb not to have seen it coming. A bit wrangling with a 12mm spanner had the drive arm off the motor, rotated 180 degrees and tightened up again. All good the wipers park where they should.

The original idea was to use the Matiz dash and support structure once it was narrowed by 52mm. This didn’t work out as the dash would then have been too high and the steering wheel would have been where the windscreen would like to go. We spent days getting it all looking good then Lachlan pointed out this problem.


I wonder if we could put a bulge in the windscreen?

We pulled all the support assembly out and mounted it 65mm lower and about 50mm rearward. This allowed everything to fit. Our aim was to retain the air-conditioning so the car would be a Matiz in a MightyBoy body.

The dash needed cutting on the ends (and plastic welding together) and the front to make it fit the windscreen. We did get it all to fit without too much trouble. The middle section of the dash is a pig to fit and isn’t 100% but you need to know where to look to spot it. We originally tried vinyl wrapping the dash, but this was way beyond our meagre talents. In the end we stone guarded the dash and sprayed it grey so the join lines were covered.


The bodywork wasn’t the prettiest we’ve seen and there was quite a bit of rust to contend with. We originally purchased a bonnet from QLD (together with a replacement front bumper and canopy for very little money) and fortunately my Mother lives in Tweed Heads so I collected them on a visit to her, well she thinks it was a visit to her!


We decided the bonnet was too good to ruin so it's in storage. We ended up doing what real panel beaters do and hammer and dollied the original bonnet into shape. We did the same with the very ordinary NSF guard and tailgate. We cut a hole on the inside of the tailgate to allow access and welded the piece removed back in. The car had been hit in the OSR 1.4 and pushed into something on the NSF corner so it was a bit average.

By using the Matiz front architecture there was nowhere to mount the MightyBoy front panels. To overcome that we grafted the inner mudguards and radiator support panel from the MightyBoy to the Matiz inner guards. Once assembled everything lined up as it should.


The stone tray needed some modification and as the front of the Matiz hung below the stone tray we added a rubber chin spoiler off a Honda Jazz.

Once we had the body fairly straight, it will never win any awards, we primed it.

The following user(s) said Thank You: IHScout, cobbadog, Gryphon, Lang, Mrsmackpaul, asw120, Southbound, wee-allis, oliver1950

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4 years 2 months ago #209961 by Mrsmackpaul
Pretty sure the original Batmobile had a bulge in the windscreen
Maybee a older fighter jet windscreen would be the go

Great stuff, awaiting more of this story


Your better to die trying than live on your knees begging

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4 years 2 months ago - 4 years 2 months ago #209968 by PDU
This post is going to outrun my B for post as it progresses . . .

Go for it Zuffen and we can all sit back and enjoy the ride with you. ;)
Last edit: 4 years 2 months ago by PDU.

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4 years 2 months ago #209993 by Zuffen
We needed to undercaot the floor after all the welding so we just rolled the car on its side and supported the roof gutter on a milk crate. Easy.


We then refitted all the Matiz mechanical components but, we found the bonnet hit the top of the throttle body. We removed the alloy block from the top of throttle body and gained about 25mm. We still needed more so we spaced the engine down by 19mm by using spacers on the side mounts, and modified the front mount. The rear didn’t need modifying as the torque reaction arm allowed it to drop and roll the engine forward slightly.


One thing we couldn’t fit in was the original Matiz air filter assembly. It’s almost as big as the engine! We ended up using a pod filter mounted behind the NS headlight and enclosed in an acoustic box.

The bonnet now closed but when we started squeezing in the radiator, air-conditioning condenser and fan things got a little tight. We had to get creative to get it all in. Eventually we had everything mounted to our satisfaction and when the bonnet is closed you would be hard pressed to know it was modified. Everything is so tight we couldn’t use the bonnet lock so small alloy bonnet locks are let into the bonnet. Even the grill needed some material ground off the rear of it to fit properly.

As the Matiz track is 100mm wider than a MightyBoy we needed to work out how to legally widen the rear track.

The answer was simply bolt in the Matiz trailing arms and Panhard rod. We removed the spring seats and shock mounts from the Matiz along with the Panhard mount and simply installed them under the MightyBoy. The dimension from the front of a MightyBoy rear spring and a Matiz trailing arm to the axle centreline is the same so the wheel base remains unaltered and we have the same bolt pattern each end. Plus it all clears the fuel tank, but does force the deletion of the spare wheel.

Using the Matiz suspension gave us bigger brakes on the front with struts we can get spares for.

We lowered the front of the car by cutting the welds on the bottom of the lower spring seat and rewelding them 80mm lower. The front suspension is stock Matiz in all other respects. The caster bar/sway bar is more than twice as thick as the MightyBoy one and you can feel this when the car is driven. The rear suspension was lowered by using shorter springs. We installed new slotted rotors and Brembo pads to ensure it would stop.

One problem with the 100mm wider track was flaring the guards to cover the tyres. We found a set of flares that look good, fit well in, of all places, Lithuania and purchased them. I’t was a good decision as they were perfect for the car.

The fuel system gave us the most heartache of all the things we had to deal with.

We tried to use the Matiz fuel tank but it just wasn’t going to fit. We needed to use the Matiz fuel pump, gauge and FPR (all contained in one unit) for everything to talk to one and other and work.
We ended up using the MightyBoy fuel tank, after cleaning and patching it with POR15, with a 5litre surge tank mounted behind it. Into the surge tank we installed the fuel pump unit and fed fuel to it from the original MightyBoy drain hole in the tank.

This hasn’t been perfect but we’re confident we will get it all working as it should. Currently the fuel gauge works when it wants and we suspect the float has jammed against side of the surge tank, so a little investigation is needed.

Early in the piece we thought a tacho would be nice but not an add-on rather in the dash like any nice car. Being both the MightyBoy and Matiz are 3 cylinder engines finding a 3 cylinder tacho is a bit difficult. A little research showed some Matiz’s were fitted with a tacho in Romania but trying to get one proved a bit on the difficult side. More searching found the Chery QQ has a nice looking dash with Tacho, so a bit of Googling and I ordered one from China and a matching electronic speed transducer. The speedo had to work for Engineering.

To install this dash means I need to re-pin the loom in that area but it looks do-able. The Chery dash fastened in the same way as a Matiz, after all the QQ is a clone of the Matiz and has been a subject of a Court Case in China for copyright infringement.

We never did get around to installing it.

We solved the bonnet hinges issue by folding up some 3mm stainless so it would bolt to the bonnet and it has a leg that runs between the scuttle and guard that hinges on a 6mm bolt in a rivnut insert in the side of the scuttle.

Once we had what looked like a car that would function we blew it apart for paint. This is where it became interesting. The car needed something different in the way of paint and we went back and forth quite a few times between Gulf Wyer colours (blue with orange stripe) and Martini Racing colours. We already had a real Martini car and thought another was a bit silly but Lachlan pointed out we once had a 911 Porsche in Martini Colours (without the light and dark blue stripes) so he got his way.

So first some white paint.


Then a lot of masking and we get this.


A lot of sanding and buffing plus some glassware and signage and hey presto we now have this.

The following user(s) said Thank You: geoffb, cobbadog, eerfree, Lang, Southbound, wee-allis, oliver1950, Tassie Dan

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