Strong, light and devastatingly handsome. No, it's not that blue-eyed skinny gym rat that lives around the corner, it's our new UVP (Under Vehicle Protection) for the current gen D-MAX, MU-X and BT-50. Designed in partnership with Milford and soon to be manufactured by Milford, to their exacting standards mind you, this UVP solution is going to be the one to have slung under your ride.
Fitting of pre-production plates to an MU-X with it's shorter transfer case plate.
No back shed, or any hammer, has been used in the development of this product. In fact, the design and development phase of this UVP system has taken up much of this year. You could say we've been 'making haste slowly'.
The initial design phase resulted in a set of mild steel prototype plates that David spent months putting through their paces under his 'work' D-MAX, a long suffering Isuzu that clocks up the k's on many many driver training sessions, Coffin Bay beach runs and Flinders Ranges adventures. They've literally been everywhere man, sometimes more than once. From there, some significant changes were made and retested, before finally committing to the final design that you can see in these pics.
This time around, we've decided to go properly premium, and use 6mm alloy. The full four-plate kit, which offers protection right through to the cross member behind the transfer case, weighs in at 24kgs, which is only 14kgs heavier than the stock rubbish and 6kg lighter than the same plates in 3mm mild steel. The 6mm alloy boasts a strength similar to 4mm mild steel, so it's a win on a few levels.
Fitting of pre-production plates to a D-MAX with it's longer transfer case plate.
Then there's the aesthetics, because we all know it's important how the underneath of your 4x4 looks, right? Not only is this UVP shiny, it also smooth. From front to back, there's no stepping down or up, it's one nice neat straight line of beautiful, shiny, tiled plates. If you were racing your D-MAX, MU-X or BT-50 at Le Mans, you'd be banned for having an unfair aero advantage.
There's cutouts to drain sand, mud and water a cutout to access the engine oil drain plug and a unique fold out (up) section that grabs the air-con drain hose and holds it in place, so that it drains down through the plate. There's not much point having water constantly draining onto the top face of your transmission plate, unless you want to bake a mud pudding.
Time to get loaded?
Half a dozen sets are about to go through the production process at Milford, where they look at every cut and fold, to document the production process required to ensure the high level of quality they demand and from there, our first batch will be ready to ship to customers, during the later half of September.