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Thread: Can the mighty max handle?

  1. #1

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    Can the mighty max handle?

    Hey guys, owner of a decent little rust free '90 mighty max 4g64 2WD. I've owned the truck for about 5 years now, and I use it as a fishing truck. I was looking at possibly picking up another Miata, when I thought, why not look into making the mighty max a project. I know you can turbo the g64, 4g63 swap it, whatever. Plenty of power to be made in these light trucks, that's a non issue. But what about handling? That's equally, if not more important to me than power. What I miss most about my old '91 Miata was that it was a corner carving machine. The mighty max is small, but the steering is clunky, it sits high, 5 inch wide tires, old leaf springs and drum brakes. I'm looking to do a total overhaul here. Any information, or links to discussions or forums on the subject are appreciated. Thanks for reading guys.

  2. #2


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    Lots of mods and such in this one.

    http://www.mightyram50.net/vbulletin...ll-s-4G64-DOHC

    I had it handling better than my AMG currently does.

  3. #3

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    What a coincidence, I just sent you a pm on an unrelated subject. Always helpful, thank you, I'll check it out.

  4. #4

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    If you want your max to turn, Merrill's the man with the know

  5. #5

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    I just skimmed through the thread for an hour and a half or so, I'm in awe. The work put into the truck was incredible. When I got to the last page it brought a tear to my eye. The only thing I'm worried about is that I don't have the tools to do most of that fab work. I'll keep looking around and see if I can't put something together though.

  6. #6

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    There are bolt on upgrades that make an instant improvement. Like rear sway bars. There are kits to use F-150 bars and there are alternative mix and match installs. Even a decent wheel swap will get it biting on the road. Merrill's truck was hardcore but he built it to see track time. You won't need to go that far but stiffening the chassis help a lot.

  7. #7

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    Yeah that's one thing I noticed in his thread, he was talking about f-150 rears and S10 in the front. Interesting and cheap solution. Then I suppose I can cut the springs up front and put a lower block in the rear. I'll have to check all the linkage in the steering to see where the clunky feeling is coming from. I've got a long list of things I'm going to be doing to this one.

    I'm keeping the 4g64 and will turbo it. I'm not looking for crazy power, I don't plan on opening the engine or transmission. Syncros are fine currently.

    Suspension mods I listed above, and possibly some more depending on what kind of parts I can get my hands on.

    Wheels absolutely. I'm running the stock steelies with the pizza cutter tires, ew.

    My interior is holy balls bad. The seat dry rotted so hard, the guy I got it from actually put a seat cover on it, and that dry rotted. There are literally holes to the floor in my seat. Radio clock works, but the radio its self does not. No matter, I'd love to fit a double dinn anyway. Carpet is stained up, but not overly terrible condition. I'll likely pull, clean, and dye it black along with the rest of the interior.

    Hood has hail damage, but I've located new hoods for 100$ free shipping. Unless I find one locally I'll go this route.

    Truck has a weird running issue, and has since I got it. Sometimes it runs great, then it will randomely either die or start running really bad, rough idle, no power. There are 2 possibilities I can see it being, problem is that it's a ghost issue, very hard to trace. I'm thinking either ECU problems, or maf. I've done a good bit of standard stuff to the truck trying to fix the problem, so far no luck. Redid the timing, along with the water pump while I was in there. New plugs, wires, coil. New o2 sensor. Pulled and cleaned everything to do with the intake, throttle body etc. New gaskets and reinstalled. New coolant temp sensor. New throttle position sensor. I'll try the maf and ECU next. This is a big problem, the reliability issue means I can't drive it daily, it scares me.

    I will be making a project thread for this build with lots of pics. Hopefully people can answer my questions along the way. I'm trying to get the majority of the parts I'll need ordered ahead of time. I just retired from the military, so I literally have nothing else to do other than college. I have a $10,000 budget for this truck completed, minus paint, would be great if I could do it for less. I'm looking for something quick, reliable, comfortable, and easy on the eyes. The community here has been and will be a huge asset for me during this build.

  8. #8

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    I'm currently searching for some pics I have of the mighty max as it sits right now. I did stumble on some pics of my Miata though. As you can see it's lowered pretty good here. Has some decent rubber on it, this pic was when I first got it, camber was pretty crazy, and I lifted it up about an inch higher than it sits here. And removed the stickers obviously. Was a '91 with 83k miles on it, unmolested drive train. Was a blast.


  9. #9



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    If you put in over sized front coil springs and make it stiffer then it will come loose in the rear before the front will push. Makes it fun to drive. It's kind of like a slot car when there like that. I put in a 3/4 inch coil that was the stock length. It made it corner like a NASCAR.
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  10. #10

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    Hah that sounds pretty crazy, does it make it unpredictable? I'm going to do something a little different this time, my Miata and my C5 Corvette were both so stiff and low, they handled like they were on rails, but if there was one pebble in my path I needed a new pair of pants.

  11. #11

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    My front end is really clunky as well. It feels like the front end is loose and then right after a certain point it grabs. I was driving it in the rain and it absolutely terrified me. I even pulled over because I thought on of the tires was blown. Going to check out the front end alignment tomorrow. The tie rods ends, both inner and outer, are new along with the idler arm. I know that the control arm bushings are shot and that the shock absorbers need to be replaced as well. Anything else I should look at? Also when I replace the shock absorbers do I need new springs?

  12. #12

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    If anyone has some good ideas for some traction please tell me. The rear end also likes to slip on corners when the road is wet. If I can find a way to make this thing cut glass on corners I'll go for it.

  13. #13

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    The problem is how light any small truck is in the rear end. If you've ever driven an older Hilux you'll notice they behave themselves when they've got a load in them. When they're at kerb weight they are jittery as all get out (they are horrid to drive - Mitsubishis run rings around them...) Install a medium load rear stabiliser bar, decent shocks and some wider low profile rubber and it will go a long way but they were never meant to lap a Lotus or an R8. Double wishbone front end can be tweaked and re-engineered but its all go to do with either the bucks or your own skill. I got my own ideas on improving the MM/D50 on top of suspension upgrades. I think the drivetrains' centre of gravity can be lowered. The engines and gearboxes sit pretty high up in the frames - only road block to dropping it down is the drag linkage in the steering but like all things there's a solution somewhere around that.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsguy View Post

    Truck has a weird running issue, and has since I got it. Sometimes it runs great, then it will randomely either die or start running really bad, rough idle, no power. There are 2 possibilities I can see it being, problem is that it's a ghost issue, very hard to trace. I'm thinking either ECU problems, or maf. I've done a good bit of standard stuff to the truck trying to fix the problem, so far no luck. Redid the timing, along with the water pump while I was in there. New plugs, wires, coil. New o2 sensor. Pulled and cleaned everything to do with the intake, throttle body etc. New gaskets and reinstalled. New coolant temp sensor. New throttle position sensor. I'll try the maf and ECU next. This is a big problem, the reliability issue means I can't drive it daily, it scares me.
    Fuel filter will cause those symptoms, too & easy replacement. Gunk in the tank will, too, but fuel filter's easier to replace & keep an eye on if it gets ridiculously clogged or not.

  15. #15

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    Just a question about setting the toe on this thing. When people say they set it to 1/8" toe-in, is that per wheel or all together. I just got done doing mine and its set at 3 mm toe-in per side or 6mm altogether. I dont want to be eating through tires left and right from tire scrub although it did handle the corners nicely. And another question I have is about the play in the steering wheel. I estimate it at around 2 inches. Is there any way to tighten it up some.

  16. #16

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    I also forgot, what is the correct toe-in amount. I've heard from 1/8 up to 1/4 so far.

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