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The Jackyl - Custom Rock Crawling Buggy

Posted in Features on July 18, 2002
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After Grady McLeod graduated from high school, he knew he wanted to work in the autobody industry. By 1986, he was pursuing his goal as a journeyman painter and began establishing a name for himself in the Sacramento area.

When he wasn't working, Grady spent his spare time mountain biking on the Rubicon trail. And after seeing all of the 4x4s out on the trail and noticing the amount of equipment they could carry along, he decided to get involved in the sport.

Grady's first rig was an '84 Toyota truck equipped with the stock motor and 33-inch tires. By 1990, he was a member of the Tahoe Hi-Los and had outfitted his Toyota with 35-inch tires, a V-8 Chevy 305ci motor, and a Turbo 350 automatic transmission. Needless to say, he was hooked.

Ten years after getting involved in four-wheeling, Grady decided to test his metal at the 1999 Tough Truck Challenge with a heavily modified '48 Jeep CJ-3A he had dubbed Rock Mutt. When it was all over and the points were added up, Grady had placed First with his new rig, winning the Tough Truck crown. To follow this up, he went to the Warn Rock Crawling event in November 1999 to see what it was all about. It was then that Jackyl was born.

To start with, Jackyl is an '01 GXRB1, designed and built by Grady's Extreme Off-Road in Rancho Cordova, California. It was designed on a custom rig that Grady spent countless hours perfecting. The basic frame design for Jackyl is similar to that of a sandrail dune buggy.

The tubing is 1-5/8- to 1-inch, 0.120- to 0.095-wall steel that is fully welded to the chassis for maximum safety. Despite the fact that the rig has rolled twice now, trying to find its limits, no tubes have been replaced. Forty-five degrees is nothing, but after about 58 degrees off camber, it gets light.

The rig runs a stock '98 Chevy V-6 4.3L Vortec powerplant that is cooled by a Howe two-row aluminum radiator and fed via a Triangle Engineering fuel cell. The engine backs up to a 700-R4 automatic tranny that Grady had Red-D Transmissions equip with a custom torque converter, a Lokar shifter for quick shifting on the trail, and a Perma-Cool tranny cooler. To let everything breathe better, Grady went with a Flowmaster single-chamber exhaust system that exits on the passenger side through the side pan.

For the front and rear suspension, Grady designed a custom four-link coilover system using Eibach springs and Bilstein 9100 shocks. For the rearend, he chose a proven high-pinion Dana 44 equipped with an ARB Air Locker and 5:13 gears.

Up front, he installed a Dana 44 reverse-cut unit, also equipped with an ARB locker. Both axles are outfitted with stock GM disc brakes and are capped with 15x10-inch Center Line wheels outfitted with Champion bead locks and 38.5x14.5x15 Swamper SX tires.

To make steering all that rubber a less strenuous exercise out on the trail, Grady installed an AGR Rock Ram hydraulic unit. And for those obstacles out on the race course where precision really counts, he equipped the rearend with brake locks.

Turning to the interior, Grady mounted a full complement of Auto Meter gauges in the custom dash. For seats, he went with black vinyl Poly Buckets from Summit and an RCI driver-restraint system.

Finishing things off, he installed a removable Grant racing-style steering wheel.

This functional rock buggy was built to be thrashed. Its sleek design kept the weight to a low 3,082 pounds, but it's still tough enough for the most extreme trails. Whether he's blowing through the sand dunes or 'crawling through treacherous rock gardens, this Jackyl is built to conquer.

02084wd 01zoom+2001 Gradys Extreme Off Road GXRB1+Front Drivers Side Climbing On Rocks View
The custom-rolled dash has a complete range of Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges, allowing the driver to fully monitor engine performance. The custom-rolled dash has a complete range of Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges, allowing the driver to fully monitor engine performance.
The front bar design almost makes Jackyl look alive. The front bar design almost makes Jackyl look alive.
The Jackyl uses a stock '98 Chevy Vortec V-6. It's the perfect powerplant for this lightweight rig, providing 200 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Jackyl uses a stock '98 Chevy Vortec V-6. It's the perfect powerplant for this lightweight rig, providing 200 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
For braking power, Jackyl runs stock GM truck discs all the way around. For braking power, Jackyl runs stock GM truck discs all the way around.

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