Over the years, we've met countless people on the trail who end up becoming good friends. Barry Brummett is one of those people who any of us would be happy to call a wheeling buddy. Not only does he have years of experience behind the wheel, but he is one heck of a nice guy as well. After spending dozens of hours building his previous '93 Jeep TJ and bashing it through mile after mile of treacherous terrain, Barry felt it was time to build something that would take him to the next level of off-roading. To feed his hunger for dirt and rocks, he knew it was going to take more than an ordinary Jeep-body vehicle - this new masterpiece would have to be a rock buggy, and its performance must be second to none.
First things first, Barry turned to good friend Doug Cates and asked him to help design and build the chassis for his new rig. Without hesitation, Doug offered to lend his expertise, and after just a short couple of months the project was under way.
First, the chassis was built on 2x3-inch, 3/16-inch-thick steel using 1-3/4-inch DOM tubing all around. With that kind of construction, this rig is strong enough to get through some of the harshest trails Arizona has to offer.
Under the hood is a '94 Chevy LT1 pushing close to 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. If that doesn't put a smile on your face, you need to take up another sport. The block is cast, running factory aluminum heads with an Eagle Racing chrome-moly crank and LT4 hot camshaft. As if that wasn't enough power, he has also added a NitrousWorks 175 nitrous package for that extra get-up-and-go. A Ron Davis aluminum radiator is called to action for cooling tasks. Other additions include a Melling high-pressure oil system, an Optima RedTop battery, an MSD ignition system, and three inline fuel pumps.
The TH400 Chevy transmission gets shifted using an Art Carr race-style shifter with a custom-built short-throw shift kit. The Atlas II transfer case sports a Low-range ratio of 3.8 and has also been beefed up to run a 32-spline front output shaft.
Barry turned the wrenches himself throughout most of this build. Not only is building a rig an extremely valuable learning experience, but it also cuts down on build cost. Just as important, when you have a problem on the trail you have a much better chance at identifying and resolving said problem. Since he knew that his rig was going to need to overcome some serious rock gardens and would be constantly pushed to its limits, Barry knew he needed some extreme axle strength. The front axle is a Dana 60 from a '78 Ford F-250. It is stuffed with an ARB locker, 5.29-ratio gears, and Superior 35-spline inner and outer chrome-moly axleshafts. The rear axle is also a Dana 60 but comes from a '93 Ford E-350 cargo van. Barry chose a full spool for the rear to remain completely locked, and its loaded with 5.20-ratio gears and Yukon 35-spline axleshafts. High Angle Driveline in Paradise, California, built all of the necessary driveshafts.
All of the aforementioned strength is needed when you install massive 39x13.50R17 BFG Krawler tires on American Eagle 17x9 wheels. Keeping 39-inch tires in motion is one task, but having the right combination of power, strength, and suspension to make them work in unison takes a true master builder.
Sitting atop the axles in front is a custom-made three-link suspension system. We could easily nickname this rig "Flex" after watching it make light work of the Lower Woodpecker Trails in Arizona during our photo shoot. Allowing a massive amount of articulation are King 2.5-inch, 16-inch-travel coilovers with remote reservoirs at all four corners. Utilizing coilovers as part of a suspension system allows one the versatility of infinite adjustability. The rear custom suspension is a four-link system also running a Currie Enterprises sway-bar kit to help keep the Jeep in line. Barry also had a full hydraulic steering fabricated using 7075 aluminum tie rods.
We asked Barry who sprayed the cool paint scheme on his rig and he told us, "Squeek painted the hood, roof, and side panels. He is out of Tempe, Arizona, and everyone knows him."
The body panels are custom-cut aluminum provided by Campbell Enterprises of Gilbert, Arizona. Other protection items around the buggy are custom skidplates front and rear as well as T6-aluminum rocker guards.
The cab's interior says a lot about just what kind of a guy Barry is. Everything is functional and practical. Each Auto Meter gauge is necessary. A set of Renegade Suspension seats with six-point harnesses keep everyone seated safely, and a Power Tank is mounted to the floor.
You're probably wondering why we titled a story about such a great trail rig "Hunk of Junk." Well, as Barry informed us, much of his vehicle's parts were pulled out of Arizona junkyards. It just goes to show you that you don't need to buy everything off a shelf to fabricate something incredible.