Rant - Editorial - Current Project VehiclesPosted in Features on April 1, 2012 Comment (0)
It’s been a while since the last time we took count of our project-vehicle stockpile in June 2010’s issue. I figured you’d want to know what we have left, what’s gone, and what’s coming to our OFF-ROAD project vehicle stable.
OFF-ROAD and this particular Super Duty have a lot of history together. After years of problems, we finally got everything—and I mean everything—worked out almost two years ago. It has served its last couple years in faithful service as a tow vehicle, mini motorhome, off-roader, and daily driver. Years ago, I would not have ever guessed I’d be a Blue Oval fan, but this truck has really grown on me, and when we got our 2011 Super Duty from Ford to replace it, I just couldn’t bear putting this one out pasture like we were supposed to. Instead, it’s already undergoing a transformation that includes giant Pit Bull tires, a different paint job, and more off-road mods, since this truck no longer has to be a daily driver.
Over the last few years, our project Bronco has been an icon of what we think an off-road vehicle should encompass. It recently proved this again hauling its owner and his wife out to the desert for a weekend crossing hundreds of miles of desert with only what was packed inside the Bronco. It was off-road transportation, it hauled all their gear, and the Bronco was even their shelter when it got down to freezing temperatures in the desert. It’s recently been updated with a complete Camburg and Bilstein suspension, and you’ll be seeing more of this Bronco soon as we finish it up. Not long now....
Po Boy Prerunner ‘71 GMC
We finally managed to get our hands on an older 2WD truck, and it’s a classic GMC no less! We just couldn’t resist picking up this ’71 GMC to build as our next project vehicle when we came across it for only $900. There’s just something cool about a classic truck with twin headlights blasting through the desert. And when we found a long-travel suspension that was still being built for this era of truck, we knew there was no turning back. Our plan was simple enough: Swap on the suspension and turn this into a low-budget, classic prerunner. By the time you read this it’ll be mobbing through the desert and looking cooler than it ever did when it rolled out of the factory.
Frequent OFF-ROAD contributor Jay Kopycinski recently acquired a 2006 Ford F-150 2WD Supercab in bone-stock condition to build up a fun prerunner that can serve as a daily driver and weekend desert explorer, while continuing to have the ability to haul dirt bikes and camping gear. He’s boosted engine output with a Banks PowerPack system and added Bilstein shock components to raise the front and improve the handling. In the future, Jay’s going to be getting a little more hardcore with this build as the tires get bigger, the suspension gets gnarlier, and some other modifications are made to this new project truck.
Believe it or not, Jinxy is nearing the end of its life as a project vehicle. After 15 years of working on it and building it, the truck is basically done. It’s not the fully ’caged Class 8 racing truck that I planned for it to be years ago. Instead, sense kicked in and I realized exactly how I wanted to use this truck and made it as such. It’s a clean, fairly simple single cab truck that can haul loads in the uncut bed, and take me on off-road excursions wherever I want to go.
Aside from a few simple mods I have left, this truck is pretty much finished. Although a pair of twin turbochargers would look really nice under the hood, don’t you think?
It’s been a struggle to finish this truck, as other projects keep getting in the way. About two years ago I got this truck back out of mothballs and starting fixing everything that had gone wrong during its prior life. A lot has gone on with this one recently as SMP Fabworks has been improving the rollcage, adding bumpstops and a sway bar, and mending the body in multiple places where it had been fatiguing. The truck should just about be finished and on its way to Moab by the time you read this.
Matilda the Giant Cherokee
Have you ever driven a truck with 47-inch tires down a major freeway at 75 mph? What about going sand duning with 47s? Until then, don’t give us your opinions of what this truck can and can’t do. It has amazed us every time we’ve gone out in it. You cannot help but stop and stare when this thing rolls by.
We built this giant ’70s Cherokee with a fairly simple leaf-spring suspension, a Chevy Dana 60 with 35-spline chromoly axles, and a common 14-Bolt axle in back. With 47s, I figured axleshafts and driveshafts would snap behind the powerful 401ci V-8. Nope. We’ve tried to murder this truck and it just keeps going. In fact, the only thing that has broken on it was the Dana 300 transfer case that failed in back of the Klune-V underdrive. With everything working correctly, this Jeep is pretty much done.
I never thought a 4x4 S-10 Blazer could look this cool. Freelancer Doug Mitchell’s Almighty Dime has come a long way since its 29-inch tires and two-tone red and silver paint. But with a flat black paint job on a custom hood and fiberglass fenders with Munkyfied bumpers and 33-inch tires, this little S-10 has been reborn!
We’re sorry to say that the IFS suspension is this SUV’s biggest downfall. Unfortunately the tires move towards the doors as the suspension compresses (resulting in some major rub issues), and there is some serious bumpsteer problems too, so our plans may have changed. We were originally thinking we’d outfit this truck with 4WD long-travel suspension, but now we’re wondering if a solid axle swap is the right way to go for practicality (we’d spend less money, it’d be easier to do, and we can make a solid-axle truck still go fast).
2011 Tow-Haul-Chase Super Duty
We recently acquired a 2011 Super Duty crew cab 4x4 to build for our needs. No doubt you’ve already seen a few stories on this truck, and hopefully you’re looking forward to more as we modify this workhorse. We’re not going to go the same radical route that we did with our 2003 Super Duty, and no modification we do will take away from its working ability as this one is staying true to its tow-haul-chase theme that we’ve labeled it with.
As far as comparisons between our ’03 and ‘11? It’s night and day! While I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for our old 6.0L truck, Ford’s current Super Duty is a dream machine with big power and comfort improvements over the previous generations. With 20K miles on the odometer, we have yet to see a single problem with ours.
‘04 Dodge 2500 4x4
Frequent OFF-ROAD contributor Jon Acuff’s project Dodge might just very well be my favorite diesel tow truck in existence. Not to brag too much, but how could we not be pleased with a 2500 4x4 truck on 37-inch tires, packing a thousand foot pounds of torque under the hood, getting more than 18 mpg with all the factory emissions equipment in place, that hasn’t been to a dealership since the day it was purchased?
This NV5600 six-speed monster has an ATS manual transmission cooler, a Truetrac diff with 4.10 gears, water-methanol injection, a Bully Dog tuner, an ATS turbo, Banks intercooler, and other miscellaneous external engine modifications done to improve the towing ability and efficiency of the engine. The suspension is a mixture of DT, Lorenz, Sway-A-Way, and Deaver parts that allow 37s to move 12 inches in the front and rear of the truck. Not bad for a daily driver.
Contributing Editor Kevin Blumer’s 4 Runner has gotten way more radical than I ever thought it would. When he got rear Tacoma bedsides and started to cut the rear of his SUV to fit 35-inch tires, I thought he was crazy. Front fiberglass is one thing, but getting so serious on such a new vehicle is a big step. I must say that I’m impressed at what he’s accomplished with it. He now has 35-inch tires that tuck under the body, long-travel suspension with 4WD, and it’s his daily driver that has had no interior functionality taken away. Though he still does little modifications on it here and there, Blumer’s 4 Runner is basically done and working wonderfully.
Freelancer Anthony D. Saters’ All-Purpose Cherokee has taken a little longer to complete than we thought it would (don’t they always?) but it was an fairly easy build that copied other successful builds that have been done a thousand times before. With a four-link rear conversion, long arms in front, a healthy 4.0L with an aluminum head, and a long list of other modifications that make this XJ so much fun to drive, we’ve definitely put some cash into this one. But with a buy-in price under $1,000, I still think Cherokees have to be the absolute best deal in off-road machines available in the classifieds section. Saters can go fast in it, crawl in it, and sleep in it; what more do you need out of your off-road vehicle?