Every year, the off-road staff uses January's issue to reflect back on all the trucks we've shown over the past year and choose our four favorite trucks that showed up in 2010.
We hope you think they're worth a second look, too.
Big Boy's Back
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph and sometimes climb into the passenger seat of some pretty amazing trucks. After doing what we do for several years, you would think it would get old. Then Matt Pike's '83 Dodge Ramcharger gets discovered and our entire staff gets excited. Pick up any issue of OFF-ROAD over the past 20-plus years and we would argue that you wouldn't find a truck as cool as this one. Classic style, old-school quarter-elliptic four-link suspension and Bob's Big Boy slapped on both sides. When we began selecting this year's Top 4 Trucks, we all quickly put Matt's truck on the board.
Vehicle: '83 Dodge Ramcharger
Owner: Matt Pike
Chassis: 4130 chromoly
Engine: Mopar 440ci V-8
Drivetrain: Dana 44, Ford 9-inch, Dodge 727 tranny
Suspension: Front straight axle, rear quarter elliptic four-link, Fox shocks
Steering: Lee power with custom mounting
Brakes: CNC six-piston
Tires/wheels: Walker Evans bead locks, BFG Baja T/A
Interior: Auto Meter, PCI, Lowrance, Mastercraft
Other Parts: KC HiLites lamps
Favorite Off-Road Area: Racing SCORE and BITD
Walking The Line
Rex Rajewski showed us what's possible if you start out with the right platform and the right powertrain. Rex first purchased the fullsize '00 Chevy 1500 as a tow rig for an S-10 project, but found that the standard cab/shortbed combo was an ideal off-road canvas on which to paint some metallic artistry.
The 5.3L Vortec V-8 packs a respectable punch, even bone stock, so it was kept under the hood. Rex then concentrated on building a bumper-to-bumper rollcage and one-off custom suspension.
The long-travel front end is based on a BMS hub that's way stronger than stock. There are 18 inches of wheel travel on tap. The rear suspension is a Rex-built four-link cycling 28 inches.
Anything else? Low-slung door bars make it easy to enter and exit, and the stock smog equipment is present and functional.
You can't miss Rex's Chevy. It's bright yellow, and the performance stands out further than the color.
Vehicle: '00 Chevy Silverado 1500 2WD
Owner/Hometown: Rex Rajewski/ Sun City, CA
Engine: 5.3L Vortec V-8 with K&N intake and filter system, Edelbrock headers, Mac Products muffler, Hypertech power programmer
Transmission: Stock 4L60-E
Front suspension: Complete owner-built long-travel system. Six inches wider per side, 18 inches of travel. Lower arms are boxed plate, uppers are round tubing. BMS spindle and hub kit integrated into custom steering knuckle. King coilover and bypass shocks, King bumpstops.
Rear suspension: Owner-built four-link system with 28 inches of travel. Stock rear axle retained, but trussed and tabbed for four-link. Oceanside Driveline two-piece driveshaft. Fox coilovers, King bypass shocks, King bumpstops.
Ring and pinion ratio: 4.11:1
Tires: BFG Mud Terrain T/A, 35x12.50R17
Chassis: Stock frame retained, but strengthed with a complete bumper-to-bumper rollcage built by Rex. Both chromoly and DOM tubing were used, 1.5x0.120-wall. Both MIG and TIG welding were used during the build.
Interior: Stock dash notched for rollcage tubing. Kartek seats, Crow harnesses,CNC brake pedal and dual master cylinders.
Favorite off-roading places: Ocotillo Wells and Plaster City/Superstition
Will Browne's '89 Toyota 4Runner doesn't jump out at you, even though it flies through the air with the greatest of ease. Beneath that stealthy exterior is a 4.7L iForce Tundra V-8. As if the V-8 swap weren't enough, Will built his own adapter to mate the iForce to his stock manual five-speed. Pure genuis.
Instead of going with fiberglass fenders and bedsides, Will found a custom motorcycle fabricator who pulled off a clean flaring job with real steel.
Long-travel front and rear suspension, consisting of a Total Chaos Gen II Caddy Kit up front and custom Deaver spring-under leaf packs in the rear, gets the V-8 power to the ground.
It was a no-brainer to pick Will's 4Runner as a Top 4 choice.
Vehicle: '89 Toyota 4Runner
Owner/Hometown: Will Browne/ Corona, California
Engine: 4.7LToyota Tundra i-Force V-8
Induction: Stock EFI, K&N intake tube and filter, custom air filter box
Transmission: Stock R-150F manual 5-speed rebuilt by Marlin Crawler
Transfer case: Stock chain-driven Toyota V-6 type
Front end: Total Chaos Gen II Caddy Kit, T.C. idler arm, and T.C. King Kong steering. Fox coilovers and bumpstops. T-100 axle shafts. Custom-machined inner CV bells. Travel: 13 inches.
Rear end: Toyota V-6 Prerunner with wheel spacers. Deaver spring-under leaf packs, and Browne-built four-link. Doetsch Tech shocks, Fox bumpstops, and stock bump stops. Travel: 13 inches
Ring and Pinion: 4.10:1
Front Differential: Stock open differential
Rear Differential: Stock open differential. (Note: Open differentials are great for preserving the drivetrain. You won't get as much traction, but you'll also avoid some types of breakage.)
Tires: 33x12.50R15 BFG Mud Terrain T/A
Wheels: American Racing 15x8
Future Plans: Full rollcage, suspension seats, and more trips to Baja.
Any avid OFF-ROAD reader will tell you that the Ford Ranger is easily a favorite choice among Southern California desert rats. You can pick them up on the cheap, modify them for much less than comparable trucks and parts are simple to find. But, considering how common they are, it took us a long while to find one that would stand out enough to make our Top 4. Kenny Walker's '86 is one of the cleanest, well-built Ranger's you will find in the desert. This 1400 Class Ford found its way flying into the November issue and has now firmly landed as a Top 4 Truck in this January special.
Vehicle: '86 Ford Ranger
Owner: Kenny Walker, KW Fabworx
Chassis: 1.75-inch 4130 chromoly race built by KW Fabworx
Engine: 302ci V8 Ford
Drivetrain: Speedway 9-inch, 5.14 gears, spool
Suspension: Custom three-link, equal length I-beams, King shocks
Steering: Howe with custom modifications
Tires/wheels: 15x8 American Racing, 35-inch Goodyear MT/R, OMF bead locks
Interior: Auto Meter, Momo, Art Carr, PRP, Crow, PCI Race Radios pumper, Racer X race radio, Lowrance GPS
Other Parts: Baja Designs, Pro Comp, Ron Davis, Racer X, Hanneman fiberglass
Favorite Off-Road Area: Racing MDR, MORE, and SNORE