You may have gathered from my posts and reviews that I live in a mountainous and rural area. I have 9 acres of moderately steep to rolling hillside on which I have more chickens than I can count, some crops that need tending and soon a few sheep will be tossed into the mix. Up till now we’ve been schlepping anything that needed to be relocated by hand and that’s just getting old fast. My folks in Texas have tried to convince me to buy a John Deere Gator, but they aren’t exactly cheap or reliable. What’s a car nut to do? How about a backyard red-neck conversion? Before I dive headfirst, let’s run this by the best and brightest for some input.
I need something that has AWD, can accept an aggressive off-road maximum traction tire and is light-weight. Not only is weight an enemy off road but I don’t want to compact the soil any more than is necessary. I want something that’s cheap to buy, fairly inexpensive to repair and easy on the gas.
The Patriot with the CVT and the lower final drive ratio made a positive impression when I had one last year. 19:1 isn’t exactly stump-pulling, but it is lower than most vehicle’s effective first gear ratio. 35 feet is a fairly small turning circle, the wheelbase is short and approach/departure angles are appropriate for my terrain. Most important however is the weight. At 3,300lbs soaking wet the Patriot is light to start with and my plan involves weight reduction.
The hair-brained scheme is as follows:
- Find a 2007ish patriot with cosmetic damage, or possibly a salvage tittle depending on the level of damage.
- Strip the interior, and I mean everything. Remove the rear seats, headliner, interior plastics, carpet, airbags, dash, etc.
- Remove the entire rear portion of the body starting after the B pillar. Just sawzall that puppy right off till you have a flat-bed Patriot with a cab.
- Modify the rear hatch and weld it to the gaping hole I’ve just created after the B-pillars. (This would be to keep the critters out of the cab.)
- Remove all extraneous weight like the hood, quarter-panels, bumper covers, A/C compressor, headlights, tail lights, HVAC system, heater cores, etc.
- Re-route the exhaust so it doesn’t go under the Patriot but perhaps up and behind the cab somehow. (We don’t want to cause a grass fire.)
- Sell all the parts I’ve removed to recoup some of the cost.
- Swap steel wheels with off-road rubber in.
- Toss on a 2″ Patriot lift kit.
I suspect that when I’m done I will have an AWD flatbed contraption weighing in between 2,100-2,400lbs depending on how aggressive the weight reduction plan ends up being.
I know the plan is insane. I know the plan is likely to be more expensive than a Gator, but what the heck, it’s has to be more fun. What input do our readers have on this, and most importantly, would it be entertaining to read regular updates and editorials on this insanity? Any other vehicles I should consider for the chop?