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Four Wheeler - The Buggy

Posted in Features on January 1, 2002
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"The Buggy." That's what Nelson Garrison of Tempe, Arizona, told us when we asked him what it was he was driving. A sand buggy? A rock buggy? "The Buggy," he repeated. And after considering it, we can't think of a better-suited title. After all, it's not a Jeep nor a Chevy, despite the use of Chevy power and drivetrain throughout. It's a buggy through and through, down to the minimalist interior and the tube frame. Buggy, that is, as in buggy that climbs rocks in a single bound, flexes its coil-sprung legs through the tightest, most technical trails, and, finally, buggy that has enough horsepower to wail down the highway at speed. It's a buggy, all right. A buggy unlike any we've ever seen.

Built by Shannon Campbell of Campbell Enterprises in Gilbert, Arizona, The Buggy is a 1-3/4-inch tube chassis 4x4 resting on 37 inches of tire. The chassis was powdercoated by APC in Phoenix and topped with a hand-rolled sheetmetal body coated orange by Rockhard, also in Phoenix. Hand-formed sheet aluminum interior panels surround Beard bucket seats for the passengers, including a Kirkey drag racing seat for the driver, a removable steering wheel, an assortment of gauges, and a GPS within the aluminum dash. All of the seats are removable via a ball lock pin. Finishing the exterior are a spoiler and cooler rack in the rear, and a fiberglass hood and Honda Civic headlights up front.

While the chassis may make The Buggy buggy, it's the suspension setup that makes it buggy well. Designed and built by Randy Ellis of 4 Wheelers Supply in Phoenix, the suspension consists of custom leaf packs by Valley Spring up front, damped by 2-1/2-inch Sway-A-Way nitrogen-charged, remote-reservoir shocks, and Eibach coilovers in the rear. This clears the way for 37x12.50-15 Goodyear MTRs wrapped around 15x8 Center Line Hellcats.

Continuing the attention to detail, a Chevy 350 cast-iron block was prepped with Dart cast-iron heads, a Chevy ZZ4 camshaft, an Electromotive crank trigger ignition and injection system, and MSD Super Conductor plug wires. The Jet Hot-coated exhaust system was handbuilt by Shannon Campbell. All told, the engine touted 400 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels after it was tuned and tested by B&R Racing in Phoenix. A TH350 rests behind the stout mill, with an Atlas 4.3:1 transfer case to the rear of it. The axles consist of a front 10-bolt with Warn 'shafts and hubs, and a 12-bolt out back with a Warn full-floater kit, hubs, and 'shafts. Each diff is stuffed with an ARB Air Locker and 5.13 gearsets.

With a 3,100-pound curb weight, The Buggy has no problems making its way through the gnarliest of trails. Though we met up with Nelson and his custom rig in Colorado, he gets most of his 'wheeling done in Arizona with the Honeywell 4 Wheel Drive and Southwest 4 Wheel Drive clubs. Having a machine that can tackle any sort of terrain makes it that much easier. It's a buggy, all right. And luckily for Nelson, he knows how to use it.

Owner/hometown: Nelson Garrison/Tempe, Arizona
Make/model: Full custom
Engine: Chevy 350
Transmission: Chevy TH350
Transfer case: Atlas 4.3
Frontend: Chevy 10-bolt, ARB
Rearend: Chevy 12-bolt, ARB
Ring-and-pinion: 5.13
Suspension: Custom leaf spring,
front, with Sway-A-Way
remote reservoir
shocks; Eibach
coilovers in the rear
Tires/wheels: 37x12.50-15 Goodyear
MTR/15x8-inch Center
Line Hellcats

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