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T3: Totally Trick Truggy

Posted in Features on June 23, 2003
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Contributors: Randall Jachmann

"Different strokes for different folks" goes the saying, and if the goal is to transport off-road enthusiasts across Earth's most gnarly terrain at eye-opening speeds, then there are alternatives to Trophy Trucks. Case in point: Jeff Olsen's scratch-built Truggy, which boasts LS-1 power, a true long-travel dual A-arm suspension front and rear, and the ability to carry a quartet of dirt-eating passengers on the ride of their lives.

Amazingly, given the level of sophistication shown on Olsen's wild ride, the Truggy was built in Olsen's home garage during a seven-month period. However, as Olsen's full-time gig is as an Aircraft Technician, you can rightfully assume that his Truggy features quality fabrication and is engineered for maximum performance.

The Truggy's chassis is almost entirely built with 1-3/4-inch diameter chrome-moly tubing, save for a few areas where 1-1/2-inch chrome-moly tube was used. Scratch-built, unequal-length A-arms deliver 23 inches of wheel travel at the front; 24 inches of rear-wheel travel is produced with a set of custom, equal-length A-arms. Front and rear coilover shocks are from King Technologies (one per wheel), and one King bypass damper per wheel is used to fine-tune the suspension action. Stoppers are four-wheel disc, using a combination of CNC and Wilwood components, and the steering setup encompasses a Howe Trophy Truck-style rack-and-pinion system.

Of special note is the operational angle of the rear CV joints that attach the axle halfshafts to the rear hubs -- the Porsche 934 CVs are capable of operating through a 26-degree arc without binding.

Power for this beast is courtesy of a mid-engine V-8. The LS-1 'Vette engine is vintage '01, boasts an aluminum alloy cylinder block and heads, and is otherwise internally stock (after all, it is a 'Vette engine, and thus churns out in excess of 350 lb-ft of torque). Performance additions to the bent-eight include scratch-built, ceramic-coated headers, a custom intake tract, a K&N filter, and a pair of one-off rebuildable stainless steel mufflers, all of which were fabricated by owner Jeff Olsen, save for the filter element. The 5.7L engine powers an '02-spec Mendeola four-speed manual transaxle that's shifted with a PBS cable-actuated shifter.

The Truggy's cockpit isn't outlandishly equipped, as it's set up strictly for business. Four Mastercraft Pro seats, upholstered in ballistic-quality red and gray vinyl, cradle four passengers, who are restrained by Crow five-point safety belts. There's also an on-board fire suppression system, GPS navigation, and Auto Meter Phantom-series gauges.

More trickery is on display where the rubber meets the road: Olsen fabbed the aluminum wheels' center sections and attached them to spun aluminum rims; the unique rollers were then fit with OMF bead locks. Tire choice changes depending on the terrain, but the Truggy normally rides on Maxxis Mudzilla tires when blitzing desert trails.

Designing an off-road enthusiast's version of the ultimate on-dirt machine is a tall order; actually getting down to the nitty gritty of building the vehicle is quite another, requiring extreme fabrication talent, a keen touch with tools, and the stamina to see the project's buildup through to completion. Looking at this finely crafted Truggy, we'd have to say that Jeff Olsen has scored a perfect 10 on all fronts.

Vehicle: '02 Olsen Truggy
Owner/hometown:Jeff Olsen/Crestline, California
Frame:Custom Olsen design four-seater built from c
hrome moly tubing; 138-inch wheelbase
Seats/harnesses:Mastercraft Pro-Series seats/Crow
five-point belts
Suspension: Unequal-length dual A-arms with King
Technologies coilover shocks, King triple-
bypass dampers, and Delrin bushings;
23 inches of wheel travel (front); equal-length
A-arms with King Technologies coilovers
shocks, King triple bypass dampers, and
Delrin bushings; 24 inches of wheel
travel (rear)
Wheels/tires :Olsen custom wheels (15x7-inch front;
15x12-inch rear) equipped with OMF bead
locks/Maxxis Mudzilla tires (33x12.50/15
front; 35x12.50/15 rear)
Engine/output:5.7L GM LS1 V-8 with custom Olsen headers
and stainless steel mufflers; Olsen intake
system; K&N Filtercharger; MSD ignition/
350 lb-ft of torque
Transaxle:Mendeola four-speed manual with Porsche
934 CV joints
Brakes:Four-wheel CNC, Wilwood discs
Steering:Howe Performance Steering rack-and-pinion
Weight:2,{{{300}}} pounds
Additional accessories: Oddessy battery; Kartech Micro Stub Axles;
Hella HID lights; {{{Laser}}} Star lights; Auto
Meter gauges, on-board fire suppression
system; GPS navigation system
0308or 01b z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Front Driver Side View Parked
0308or 02b z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Front Driver Side Close Up Front Suspension And Shocks
0308or 03z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Rear View Tires Tubing Exhaust
0308or 04z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Close Up View Brakes With Tire Removed
0308or 05z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Behind Tire Shot Showing Spring And Suspension
0308or 07z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Close Up Shot Behind Seat Of Fan
0308or 08z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Interior Shot From Driver Side Showing Front Seats
0308or 09z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Interior Shot Gauge Cluster
0308or 10z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Interior Shot Pedals And Gear Selector
0308or 11z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Interior Shot Extinguisher and Nitrous
0308or 12z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Close Up Wheel Shot
0308or 13z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Engine Shot Showing Intake
0308or 14z+2002 Olsen Truggy+Front Driver Side Mid Air
0308or 15s+2002 Olsen Truggy+Front Driver Side Landing0

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