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Everything But The Kitchen Sink | 1957 M37

Posted in Features on October 1, 2012
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There are two kinds of guys on the trail. those who bring a pair of vise grips and some zip ties and hope for the best, and those who bring everything necessary to rebuild an entire vehicle. Jeff Pichler definitely falls into the latter category with his 1957 M37.

Jeff’s M37 has the relatively rare V41 utility box option, so he worked with Max-Bilt of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to turn his truck into the ultimate Trail Recovery Vehicle (which explains the M-TRV stickers on the hood). This mobile workshop has all of the hardware necessary not only to fix other vehicles, but do plenty of off-roading in its own right.

The TRV is powered by a 383ci small-block Chevy filled with Vortec iron heads and a hydraulic roller cam and topped with a Holley 750 Street Avenger carb that has been tweaked for off road use. It feeds power to an SM465 transmission and a divorced NP200 transfer case.

While the original plan was to retain much of the factory drivetrain, in the end it was easier to upgrade to modern components than try and modify the 55-year-old stock components. A 383ci small-block Chevy from Chevy Performance Parts makes 340 horsepower and 435 lb-ft of torque out of the box with Vortec iron heads, a hydraulic roller cam, and a pump gas-friendly 9:1 compression ratio. Compare that to the 78 horsepower from the factory L-Head six-cylinder! The stroker engine is backed by am 2WD SM465 transmission that uses a spud shaft to mate the factory cast iron, gear-driven NP200 transfer case.

The quartet of shift levers control the SM465 transmission and the NP200 transfer case while the Auto Meter gauges display speed, water temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and voltage. A Max-Bilt Command Console sits between the seats and offers security along with fused switched and modern 12-volt outlets.

From there power is routed to a Corporate 14-Bolt rear axle with 5.38 Yukon gears, an ARB Air Locker, and disk brakes. Is there a better bang for your buck in beefy rear axles? Up front a kingpin Dana 60 front axle from a Dodge pickup is filled with 5.38 gears, an ARB Air Locker, Warn hubs, and a Max-Bilt diff cover. The Dana 60 turns from input from a PSC steering box from an International Scout application with a Bronco pitman arm. The draglink is made from 1.25-inch, 0.25-wall DOM tubing and uses 3/4-inch QA1 rod ends to connect the pitman arm to a Crane steering arm on the passenger side knuckle. The tie rod is in the factory location and retains GM one-ton tie rod ends.

The front axle is a kingpin Dana 60 out of a Dodge pickup with a driver-side drop. It is loaded with 5.38 gears around an ARB Air Locker and uses Warn locking hubs. To fit the axle under the truck Max-Bilt constructed new spring hangers to match the width of the perches on the axle and lowered them for increased ride height.

M37s came from the factory with 34-inch-tall tires, so once there was enough power to turn them and enough axle to handle them, fitting big meats was not a problem. Jeff chose 40-inch Interco SS M16s mounted on Trailready 20x9 HD beadlock rims. The 40s fit with the stock leaf springs over the axles with help from new spring hangers in the front and a shackle flip in the rear. Fox remote reservoir shocks were added to smooth out the ride from the 55-year-old leaf springs.

PhotosView Slideshow

Jeff was starting with a relatively rust free and incredibly stout truck, which limited the need for restoration and opened the door for fabrication. Max-Bilt designed a front bumper out of 1/4-inch plate and fit it with a Warn VR12000 winch. The mix of old and new includes the vintage grill flanked by Truck-Lite H4 headlights as well as the fold-out windshield beneath the Rigid LED lightbar. Inside the basic metal dash was retained; complete with the dash plaques on the glove box. Maxbilt added toggle switches for various functions and a gauge panel with Auto Meter gauges monitoring speed, water temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and voltage. A modern stereo system sits concealed under the seats complete with four 10-inch subwoofers in a custom Max-Bilt enclosure. The stereo head unit is housed in a Max-Bilt Command Console nestled between the Corbeau suspension seats. The console offers security along with fused switched and modern 12-volt outlets.

Max-Bilt created the front bumper from 1/4-inch plate and stuffed it with a huge Warn VR12000 winch with 94-feet of 3/8-inch wire cable behind the roller fairlead. Also visible is the Flexalite aluminum radiator and electric fan that keeps the 340 horsepower stroker mill cool.
The rear axle is a venerable Corporate 14-Bolt filled with 5.13 gears, a Detroit Locker, and disc brakes using Crane brackets to hold Chevy calipers. Also visible above the axle is the factory 25-gallon fuel tank that is tucked up between the frame rails.

The real magic happens behind the cab, where the V41 bed is filled with just about every tool possible but the kitchen sink. A fullsize spare tire shares bed space with an air compressor and a Miller Bobcat welder/generator, while the side boxes hold a power inverter, torches, hand tools, a vice, spare parts, and more. As well built as the truck is, Jeff is usually helping out others on the trail rather than working on his M-TRV. Get hungry or thirsty during the repair process? No problem, the M37 has a propane grill and a fridge on board too!

Clearly Jeff is the kind of guy that you want to have with you on the trail, and we were grateful when he joined us for our Fullsize Invasion in Moab, where we shot these photos. Keep an eye out for him on a trail near you, the M-TRV is tough to miss and if you find yourself in trouble there is no one better to have with you on the trail than this guy.

The mix of old and new includes the flat, fold-out windshield topped by the latest LED lights from Rigid Industries. More Rigid lights are used in the rear as flood lights when working out of the utility bed.
PhotosView Slideshow

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