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Top Off Road Trucks of 2009

Posted in Features on January 1, 2010
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In early 2008, we introduced to you a new direction for OFF-ROAD Magazine. Continuing to hit our goals for 2009, OFF-ROAD has become a great choice for the best coverage of the most fun you can have in a fullsize and/or high-speed, off-road vehicle. Following suit from last year, we asked our staff to staple photos of every truck that's been in the magazine to their office walls and choose the very best trucks that came out of 2009. It took some time but we finally nailed it down to the top four. You may or may not agree with our choices, but you must agree that each one of these trucks are worth a second look.

Paid In Full
1974 Chevrolet Crew Cab Pickup

When James Hable showed up in Ocotillo Wells, California, for our photo shoot our jaws dropped. We are lovers of fullsize trucks, as you know, and this happens to be one of the coolest we've ever seen. Even the Fonz himself would find this truck too cool for school. James is an off-road guy just like the rest of us and is not rich by any means. He worked hard, saved his pennies, and purchased this '74 Chevy with plans of completing his dream truck with the help of Complete Fabrication. Can you say dream come true? We can. Now when is he going to let us drive it?!

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Vehicle: '74 Chevrolet Crew Cab Pickup
Owner: James Hable
Chassis: Caged from the rear 4130 Chromoly
Engine: 572ci crate motor, 620 hp
Drivetrain: Turbo 400 tranny, Ford 9-inch with 4.56 gears and spool
Suspension: Ford Econoline Van lengthened I-beams custom made, Sway-a-Way shocks, four-link rear suspension
Steering: Howe
Brakes: Gear One six-piston calipers and CNC master cylinder
Tires/wheels: 37-inch BFG Baja T/A tires, American Racing Teflon wheels
Interior: Mastercraft seats, Auto Meter gauges, Lowrance GPS, Momo steering wheel, Racer X communications
Other Parts: Hella HID lights, Autofab fiberglass, custom 65-gallon fuel cell, Fluidyne tranny cooler
Favorite Off-Road Area: Baja, SoCal deserts

Baja Bronco
1989 Ford Bronco

Many of us have aspirations of racing Baja, but sadly looking over our paychecks makes us realize that that dream will never come true. However, John Townsend knew he'd be able to live that dream only by chasing down the trucks rather than driving around the course. With help from Solo Motorsports in Covina, California, they created a noteworthy '89 Bronco built tough from head to toe. The features we love most about this truck is the super clean fabrication, the plush ride, and all of the creature comforts still remaining in the vehicle for daily driving. There's nothing like speeding 80 mph down the highway, jumping on to a racecourse, and driving home all in the same truck.

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Vehicle: '89 Ford Bronco
Owner: John Townsend
Chassis: Ford Bronco OEM, caged 4130 chromoly
Engine: Ford 351W small-block
Drivetrain: Ford C6, Currie 9-inch with 4.56 gears and Detroit locker
Suspension: Solo Motorsports Dana 44 I-beam 4WD front, Solo Motorsports four-link rear, Fox shocks
Steering: Ford OEM
Brakes: Ford and Wilwood CNC
Tires/wheels: BTR wheels, 37-inch BFG Baja T/A
Interior: Lowrance GPS, Kenwood race radio, Mastercraft seats, Crow harness
Other Parts: Hella HID lights, Petronix ignition, UMP intake, 40-gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell, Auto Meter gauges
Favorite Off-Road Area: SoCal deserts, Mexico, Arizona, Nevada

Kung Fu
1992 Toyota Pickup

Since its debut in 2005, Dan Vance's Toyota Pickup has had a 3.4 Toyota V-6, a 5.0 Ford V-8, and a 4.0 Toyota V-6 in the engine bay and it's dominated with all three engines. It's survived an 80-mph rollover with minimal damage to the truck or occupants. The front suspension is a Total Chaos kit that's actually available over-the-counter to anyone who can cough up the cash. You would be hard-pressed to find a faster Toyota pickup in the desert. With two MDR class championship titles to his name, Dan created a small truck with big truck capabilities. It doesn't matter how good you are with a welder and bender, you can't replace experience with anything.

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Vehicle: '92 Toyota Pickup
Owner: Dan Vance
Chassis: 4130 chromoly cage front to rear
Engine: 4.0L V-6
Drivetrain: XRunner six-speed manual transmission, Currie 9-inch with 5.57 gears and Stange steel spool
Suspension: Total Chaos Kung Fu Race Kit, Fox shocks, custom four-link rear suspension
Steering: Total Chaos King Kong Steering, Howe pump
Brakes: Motorsports disc brakes
Tires/wheels: 35-inch Goodyear MT tires, 15x8-inch KMC bead lock wheels
Interior: Beard Ultra Pro seats, Crow harness and window nets, Kenwood race radio, PCI intercom system, Auto Meter gauges, Momo wheels, Parker Pumper
Other Parts: Lightforce lights, PWR radiator, McNeil front Tundra conversion fiberglass clip, rear Hanneman Tundra conversion bedside fiberglass
Favorite Off-Road Area: Barstow, Lucerne Valley, Baja, Las Vegas

Big Yellow
1981 Dodge W300

What does a concrete worker build during his time off with little cash? A high-flying Dodge truck nicknamed the "Yellow Banana," of course! Derek Rose of Richmond, Michigan, wanted to create a truck that would be able to tackle huge piles of sand and mud while keeping him eye level with semi trucks on the road. Big and bad was his aim, and that led us to featuring his W300 in our May '09 issue. With a budget of less than $15,000, Derek built a rather unique truck that allowed him over a foot of wheel travel, even with 44-inch Swampers, and it provided more fun than you could shake a stick at. You have to love a giant truck capable of launching itself in the sand or eating up mudpits on rainy days.

PhotosView Slideshow

Vehicle: 1981 Dodge W300
Owner: Derek Rose
Chassis: 1981 W350 OEM frame
Engine: 360 V-8, mild top end rebuild
Drivetrain: 727 Torqueflite trans w/ manual valve body, B&M mega shifter, Dana 60 front w/ Detroit Truetrac, Dana 60 rear w/Detroit Locker, 5:13 gears, NP205 divorced transfer case, 1350 Spicer and 1410 joints and yokes on custom driveshafts
Suspension: Skyjacker leaf spring w/ third link front, custom drop hangers, Skyjacker shocks. Rear Skyjacker leaf springs w/third link, handmade flipped shackles, Skyjacker shocks
Steering: Crossover with AGR reverse gearbox
Brakes: Factory disc front, EGR offroad disc conversion rear, stainless lines
Tires/wheels: 44-inch Super Swamper Boggers on steel rock cralwer 16x12 wheels
Interior: Corbeau seats, stainless steel dash and console
Other Parts: Each electronic accessory on its own switch and breaker, Bushwacker flares, handmade 25-gallon fuel tank, front and rear Reese hitch, Remote trans cooler with custom cage, lots of cool diamond plate to strengthen key areas
Favorite Off-Road Area: Sand dunes of Michigan

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