If you’ve never been to the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, here’s a fact: The vast majority of 4x4s in town for the week are short-wheelbase Jeep products. Go figure. Bet you would’ve never guessed that.
Here’s another fact: There are fullsize rigs in Moab during the week, and for the last three years, they’ve risen up from obscurity and banded together for a one-day trailride called the Fullsize Invasion. We’ve tagged along on the Fullsize Invasion for all three years. The first year it explored the Poison Spider Mesa trail and the second year the Behind the Rocks and Hell’s Revenge trails. This year, the fullsize pack roamed Gold Bar Rim and part of the Golden Spike trails.
We like Jeeps, but we also like fullsize rigs. There’s something about a massive 4x4 prowling rugged terrain that makes us happy. We’re not alone. As our group of almost 40 rigs caravanned to the trailhead, other wheelers, and the general public gawked, gave thumbs-up, and waved. Once at the trail, the group showed that large 4x4s can hold their own in the rough stuff. This is especially amazing considering that several of the fullsize rigs in attendance were actually active tow rigs.
The Fullsize Invasion has grown in participants each year since its inception. Some participants have attended all three years of the Fullsize Invasion. Interestingly, there are even non-fullsize rigs that tag along just to be a part of the fun.
In the end, the Fullsize Invasion is a unique event that is continuing to grow. We had a blast checking out the rigs and seeing them in action. Here are some of the rigs from the event.
Daniel Chavez is an X-ray tech by profession, and he wheeled his 1973 Jeep J-truck. The pickup was fun to watch in action and sported a number of real-world mods like a Chevy 350ci V-8 engine with Holley Pro-Jection, TH350 transmission, and NP205 T-case. Up front, it had an OX Locker-equipped Dana 44 axle and out back a Detroit Locker-equipped GM 14-bolt. A simple leaf-spring suspension with Bilstein piggyback-reservoir shocks lifted the truck enough to fit 38-inch Toyo tires. Daniel says he built the bumpers, spring perches, various brackets, and so on.
Blake Anderson purchased this 1977 Jeep FSJ in 2009, and it was mostly stock. Since then, he’s added Holley fuel injection to the 360ci V-8 engine, lockers, 4.10 gears, a front spring-over-axle conversion, Ford Explorer rear springs with a shackle-flip, beadlock wheels, and 36-inch tires.
One of the most entertaining rigs to watch was this 2000 Ford F-250, owned by Andy Byrum. Andy is a machinist/welder from Colorado, and he has a knack for forcing the big truck through tough obstacles. He says his goals with the truck were to use bolt-on, off-the-shelf parts that are readily available. He also notes that he likes used parts, cheap parts, and free parts. Some of his rig’s mods include a full interior rollcage, shortened frame (3 inches), front ARB Air Locker, rear Detroit Locker, Dana 60 front axle with truss and chromoly axleshafts, 14-bolt rear axle, 37-inch tires, 4.56 gears, and a NP273 T-case converted from electric to manual shift.
We have limited details on this Dodge Ram 2500, but what we do know is that it sports some Carli Suspension components up front as well as 37-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires. We also know it was very capable off-road, and it sauntered over every obstacle with ease.
Cooper Rasmussen was behind the wheel of the Diesel Power Products 2013 Ram 2500, and this is quite a machine that had no problem with any of the obstacles. One of the most interesting things about this truck is that it only has a 2¾-inch front leveling kit, but thanks to the Fiberwerx front fenders and the radiused rear wheelwells, the truck can fit 40-inch tires. Rasmussen says the truck has 12 inches of front suspension travel and 17½ inches of rear suspension travel. The axles have been modified as well and include 5.13 gears and ARB Air Lockers.
Jake Stump is a heavy recovery operator, and this1984 F-250 is his daily driver. “All modifications were done out of necessity,” he says. The 300ci I-6 engine has been bored 0.030 over and fit with roller rockers and high-compression pistons. The rig’s transmission is out of a 1985 F-250, and the T-case is a BorgWarner 1356. The truck has a 100-gallon fuel capacity, increased coolant capacity, electric cooling fans, dual Optima batteries, and a 12,000-pound T-Max winch. Jake says that he has brought his truck to the Easter Jeep Safari four years in a row.
BDS Suspension hit the trail in this Ram 2500. Fact: This rig was used to tow the company’s trailer from Michigan to Moab. Nothing like wheeling the tow rig! The Ram has a 6-inch long-arm front suspension with prototype coilovers. Out back, the suspension includes leaf springs and a prototype airbag system with Air Lift airbags. It rolls on 37-inch tires.
Dan Wright has been to all of the Fullsize Invasion trailrides in his 1997 S-10. Each time we see the truck, it has lost more of its sheetmetal. It still sports a L98 Corvette engine, NP435 transmission, NP205 T-case, Dana 60 front axle, 14-bolt rear axle, and 42-inch tires.
Stephen Watson, owner of Offroad Design, drove his 1999 Chevy K2500, and it’s fit with a variety of his company’s awesome parts. It’s specs include a 454ci V-8, NV4500 tranny, Offroad Design Magnum two-speed gearbox mated to a NP205 T-case, Dana 60 front axle, 14-bolt rear axle, ARB Air Lockers, King remote-reservoir shocks, 40-inch tires, and a custom Offroad Design bed.
Doug Hampton has been to all three Fullsize Invasion trailrides, and we never get tired of watching his twin-turbo, Cummins-powered 1992 Chevy Suburban go places where one would never expect a rig that big to go. It’s running a Dana 60 front axle and a Dana 80 rear axle, and both are equipped with ARB Air Lockers.
Joshua Gordon, owner of Gordon Custom Fabrication, drove his amazing 1972 Chevy Blazer. One of the most fascinating mods is how he clearanced the fenders to fit the 40-inch tires and then reinstalled the factory lip on each fender. We’re also digging the matte paint.
John Cappa, former Four Wheeler editor, was driving his Jeep J2000. This rig’s workhorse looks always generates comments, and the rig is no slouch in the off-road department. He loves it when you point out the similarities between it and an International Harvester pickup truck. The rear Dana 44 has been swapped for a stronger Ford 9-inch, but the stock closed-knuckle Dana 44 front with small 260X-sized U-joints miraculously survives the torque of the Jeep’s injected AMC 360 and T-18 four-speed.
Keith Blazer’s awesome 1985 Chevy Suburban is nicknamed “Twinkie.” Aside from the obvious mods, this cool machine sports a 454ci V-8 engine, TH400 transmission, NP203/205 Offroad Design Doubler, high-pinion Dana 60 front axle, 14-bolt rear axle, Detroit Lockers, 40-inch tires, and PRP seats. Blazer made the tube doors, in case you were wondering.
Who does this with a massive Super Duty? Let alone a Super Duty as nice as this? Well, that would be Bryan Howell. His 2012 Ford F-250 “Raptor SD” is an amazing conglomeration of performance parts grafted together to create a one-of-a-kind machine that he isn’t afraid to take anywhere.
This awesome 1987 GMC pickup, owned by Todd Farrand, sports a 6.2L diesel engine and military-spec axles (Dana 60 front and 14-bolt rear). Oh, and a cool, 1980s-style rollbar. The truck is fit with 40-inch tires with only 2 inches of suspension lift thanks to “ongoing” sheetmetal modifications. Farrand says, “Bought to build up a ‘Fall Guy’ truck that would fit in with today’s look. A low-budget build to hit trails with and have some fun.”