1990 Daihatsu Rocky: Reddy the Rocky

utherjorge

Observer
I’ll do a post first about what I have done thus far. I will save the entire backstory, other than to say this vehicle replaces a similar one totaled by a drunk driver.

I sought a Rocky for a wide variety of reasons due to their reputation. I did not realize some well-known problems that these little guys can have, but this has so far been solved. After a brief search, I found one at auction, through Copart. Cost under $1k, though I did have to ship it. Been here since April 2017.
So, what’s been done thus far for maintenance:
  • Oil changed, filters changed
  • Other maintenance stuff like wipers done: lots was missing on this, as it looks like it was beaten in its previous life. There actually were no wiper arms on it when I got it. That sort of thing.
  • Shocks replaced. It appears the fronts were original to the truck. It has 147k miles now. Dear god.
  • Parking brake adjusted; cable had slipped off completely.
  • Inspection passed in Pennsylvania, and to do so, I had to rewire headlights and put in new turn signals, as the new ones are LED to replace cracked, broken incandescents.
  • Complete and total cleaning. Dirt and dust were everywhere, and since most seals for doors and what not were gone, dirt and dust was everywhere. All had to be cleaned.
  • Where possible, new seals were purchased and installed.
  • New windshield installed; however, had to reuse the gasket, so it’s leaking a bit in heavy rain.
  • New wheels and tires. Old ones were dry-rotted, which I knew, so I went up a size and bout new steel wheels for it. I have seen all sorts of stock sizes for these guys, but it came with 235/75/15s on it. It now has 30x7.5x15s.
 

utherjorge

Observer
Interior work

So, the interior was not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but close. I mentioned above that the Rocky had been used for wheeling someplace that was all dust or dirt. This dirt and dust was everywhere. It had gotten wet in some places, and had turned basically to cement. Carpets were threadbare and torn in many places. Out it would go.


The rear bench was “there,” which is to say that it was in the rear of the truck, but not bolted in anywhere. It was also ripped and missing the (very important) latch that secures it to the floor so it does not fold forward. Salvageable, but needed a complete cleaning.

There was only one front seat, taken from what I believe was a RAV4. No passenger seat.

The dashboard was missing pieces and had numerous damage points, with a second gas gauge (neither worked) and a cracked pane covering the speedo.
Front seatbelts were fine, but the rears had been chewed through.
I’ll include this here, too: the removable roof pieces were rough. The sunroof was filthy, and the interior fabric panel was in bad shape. The hardware to hold the sunroof in place was broken, too. The rear roof (also removable) was original and the entire fiberglass shell was cracked in the middle. It had also been twisted, so it couldn’t be completely bolted down. Finally, the glass was at best cracked, and at worst, was poorly-replaced with thin plexiglass.

Fixes/Future

The entire interior was sanded as best as possible. All holes from carpet and who knows what else were filled with epoxy putty and then finished with Monstaliner. The color chosen for it was black. I did this in a heated garage in the winter, so the tape didn’t peel off easily; the edges are goofed in a few areas, but I’ll wait until I get damage to touch it up with more Monsta. The interior color is Sunrise Red from Rust-Oleum, to give you an idea how red it is. That color is a close match to the exterior.

Rust Bullet first:

Monsta in and done:

I have also been stripping, priming, and painted with SEM products to match the black interior. It had been grey, stock. This is almost done.
The rear bench was reattached with Grade 8 hardware and using a longer bolt so there’s a washer there, under the floor, as well. A future possibility is a ¼ to ½ inch thick steel bar connecting the two, under the floor for further strengthening. I got the replacement latch, but don’t remember where from. I purchased a seat cover from Coverking that is “custom fit” to the Rocky. It’s pretty good, though I don’t like how the top half flares up in the wind or if you fold it forward. I have it tied down correctly, too, I think.

I bought two front seats and got floor mounts made that attached them. These are very narrow vehicles, so I had to mount them further inboard, which also meant I couldn’t use the stock mounts in the floor; I couldn’t find good Rocky seats used, so I went with Procar buckets and the new brackets also raise the seat height about an inch and a half.

Here are the seat mounts before painting:


Seats in:

The dashboard works for now. I’ll mention later about stuff I’ve bought thus far, but I was able to score a dash in excellent shape. The current one works (minus the fuel gauges) and I plan on doing some additional wiring this winter to improve the beast. I will replace the dash at that point, so the bustedness stays for the time being.

Rear seatbelts on order. Had to send in the ones I had. Haven’t gotten them yet. It’s only functioning as a two-seater for now, though I hope to get it done shortly.

I was able to score both a convertible top in excellent shape and an aftermarket Deepwoods hardtop for it; it’s superior to the stock one, with sliding rear quarter windows (like RV windows) and a rear hatch that looks just like a truck cap, and it locks. I see no cracks, and though it’s not seating properly to my eyes, it’s completely watertight, at least sitting, in severe thunderstorms that dropped two inches of rain in a flash.

Cleaning all terminals and whatnot got the door/ignition buzzer back.
 

RoadBoss

Member
damn, what a difference. are you worried at all about head and noise without the carpet being in place?
this thing looks real cool though, there was one for sale locally a couple weeks ago, wish I had picked it up.
 

utherjorge

Observer
So far, I'm taking it on slowly-longer trips to test out the whole deal to see what problems it might have. Until this week, I had the shifter boot off and there was a lot of heat coming through there, surprisingly. Now that I've put it back on, there's no heat at all I can feel through the rubber boot. I think that's odd, but all seems to be working well, with no weird noises.

As far as noise, it's a convertible, basically. I plan on longer trips next year once I've had the chance to shake it out (this is why I've posted all of this on Expedition Portal!) but the noise doesn't bother me. I did expect road noise with the tires I selected, but I haven't heard any. Either the whole thing is so loud I don't notice, or they aren't that bad.

There's a super nice one on sale in Illinois right now with rare, rare options on it, including a limited-slip differential, which are almost unheard of in the US. I know of three at this point.
 

polishammer

Member
Looks great!!!
They are great little 4x4s. I used to have one but it was half burgundy half silver. Lots of great adventures in it, I will have to find pics as it was pre-digital camera/cell phone era. :)
I have eventually sold it due to lack of parts availability in US, or rather cost of parts in US. Still should have a shop manual somewhere for it.
Can't wait to see how it will look after you are done.
 

utherjorge

Observer
There is a lack of availability to a degree.

Every now and then, a cache of parts shows up someplace that is NOS. Daihatsu Rocky Parts Northwest has scavenged probably everything needed from old Rockys. They are a good source. I have also gotten some good parts from Car-Parts.com; aside from a couple of "hits" that turned out to be false leads as the vehicle has been out in the rain for twenty years, what I have gotten in return has been great. Things like windshield wiper arms, stuff like that.

As there were many more of these things sold elsewhere, I have sourced replacement parts from Indonesia (lighting) and Germany (lower ball joints) along with a bunch off of Rock Auto and various other parts places. There are a few things that are unobtanium (distributor is one) but seats are a good example: the stock ones are very narrow, and thus hard to find, and replacements are rough at best. I then bought new seats from Summit to swap in (Procars).

It's on the road and I'm going to not make repairs unless absolutely necessary; I think I have plans for every single part of this with an eye on using it as an expedition vehicle for 2019.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
It's interesting that that is a Rocky in the USA - in Australia, it's one of these, where it comes as either a wagon or a ute.

Found a couple of pictures from some for sale ads on Gumtree:





They tend to come with a 2.8 diesel if they're diesel or a 2.0 petrol from Toyota.
 

polishammer

Member
Yes, it is different here. The one in your picture is a Daihatsu Rugger that was sold in most markets as Rocky. This one was never imported to USA.
American market Rocky was known as Daihatsu Feroza everywhere else.
UK was another country where both of those had yet another names.
 

utherjorge

Observer
Another helpful thing to do is to check for the chassis designation. In America, it's called the Rocky, and elsewhere the Feroza...but the chassis code is F300. In some markets, there was a later update to an F310, but aside from some styling updates, they look very similar. A lot interchanges between the two, but there are differences.

The "Rockys" in other countries are larger for sure, with an ad I saw in the Dominican Republic saying that the one for sale sat 7. I assume in the same configuration as an FJ Troopy, but still.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
Yes, it is different here. The one in your picture is a Daihatsu Rugger that was sold in most markets as Rocky. This one was never imported to USA.
American market Rocky was known as Daihatsu Feroza everywhere else.
UK was another country where both of those had yet another names.
In the UK the Rugger is a Fourtrak, and most are buggered now - but when they do come up for sale, they're for good money.

Another helpful thing to do is to check for the chassis designation. In America, it's called the Rocky, and elsewhere the Feroza...but the chassis code is F300. In some markets, there was a later update to an F310, but aside from some styling updates, they look very similar. A lot interchanges between the two, but there are differences.

The "Rockys" in other countries are larger for sure, with an ad I saw in the Dominican Republic saying that the one for sale sat 7. I assume in the same configuration as an FJ Troopy, but still.
Picking up again on the name changes, the Feroza was a Sportrak in the UK.
 

utherjorge

Observer
Finally got it back from the shop: new head gasket and some other shenanigans. These include an Isuzu alternator that provides a whopping 75 amps (up from the stock 50: I know you are all suitably impressed) and a full delete of the A/C, including the belt-driven accessories, which should help a bit with power drain. The two should cancel each other out, or better...plus the extra amps will help with future plans.

When my 2011 Grand Caravan was again damaged by idiot mechanics, and my 2015 Acadia started throwing dreaded Stabilitrak codes, the good 'ol Rocky was the lone vehicle working right. So, naturally, I took it into the woods to tempt fate! No problems at all, but looks like I won't take it off the road as I expected for the winter. Pic below was on an unlocked oil and gas road that was loaded with opportunities...more than I had time for. I'll try again in the spring. But even without locked hubs, completely sure-footed and stable, and unstoppable in deep mud and snow. 2019 will be all about loading up for expos. Minor hooning pic below. Much more mud covered the little beast by the end of the day, but I had to pick the kids up from school.

 
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