Official Project Truck - WomBAT

Wo/man's Basic All-Terrain Trooper

Nov. 01, 2005 By Randy Burleson
Wombat (Vombatus ursinus):"The wombat is the largest burrowing mammal. Indeed, it is such an accomplished burrower that early settlers called it a 'badger'. However, its closest relative is in fact the koala. With its short tail and legs, characteristic waddle and 'cuddly' appearance the wombat is one of the most endearing of Australia's native animals." (from


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The Rig's History

Like thousands of other folks in the U.S., my off roading began with the purchase of an Isuzu Trooper. In '93 our family purchased a vehicle to take us off the beaten path for a reasonable price. Strong sales in the States have made used Troopers easy to find for reasonable prices. We found ours at the DFW Metroplex. Not knowing what to look for, but assuming that the V6 was a big power gain over the 4cyl (ha!), I purchased a clean '89 5-speed equipped with the 2.8 GM motor. At that time, $8000 was a good price for a truck, with 80k miles. Though I would do some things differently in retrospect (see Buying Advice), overall we have been very pleased with our rig.

Beginnings of The WomBAT

Soon after purchasing our Trooper, like many of you, I wanted to improve it for trail exploration. Perhaps it was the vehicle's utilitarian, almost Land Rover-like looks, but it seemed destined for more than just ski/snowboard/hunting trips. Consequently, I learned three important facts.
  • Few after-market performance products are available for the truck.
  • One should invest in real rather than poseur equipment.
  • The truck is more capable and sturdily built than I expected.

Since those early revelations I continued to build our Trooper as a serious every wo/man's rig. What does that mean? Certain improvements can be made without breaking the bank, while still unleashing the capabilities that our Japanese friends designed in. That's the purpose of this project, to demonstrate what improvements can/should be made to allow more thorough enjoyment of a Trooper. In other words, we're building a Wo/man's Basic All-Terrain Trooper, or a WomBAT (an acronym inspired more than a little by two sturdy down under mammals: Vombatus ursinus and Jackaroo owners). With that in mind, this project will focus on the two primary weaknesses of pre-1992 Troopers: Power and Traction.

Over the coming months, the write-up of the WomBAT will focus on what I and my peers have learned regarding improving Trooper Power and Trooper Traction. My hope is that fellow Trooper owners can see what changes provide the greatest off- (and in some cases on-) road performance improvements. We will detail costs, installation difficulty, and other purchasing considerations. I hope to inspire a renewed excitement about this stout vehicle, and to help make yours even stouter.

Please mail Sean Michael if you want to discuss this truck or its modifications. Newsletter
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