We went to Moab with a preconceived story churning around in our minds. We figured we'd do a piece on "High-Tech Suspensions" or "Weird Stuff We Ate," or something along that line. Then we started seeing narrowed rigs. Lots of them. Clearly, the trend of narrowing rigs has continued to pick up steam since we published Jeff Agueda's narrowed '72 Blazer on the cover of our December '04 issue. We quickly defected from our predetermined editorial path and started photographing and inspecting some of these unique rigs.
What follows is a collection of but a few of the narrowed rigs we found. It goes without saying that narrowing is certainly not a mod you'll complete in an afternoon, but it's a valuable one that boasts many benefits. For example, narrowing a street-legal trail rig can significantly improve the vehicle's off-highway capabilities while at the same time retaining its street-legality. Oh, and it also looks cool.
Name/hometown: Garrett Blecha/Grand Junction, Colorado
Vehicle: '94 Toyota Xtracab
Pickup Narrowed (f/r, in.): None/24
In his own words: "There were two main reasons that I narrowed the rear of my truck. The first is weight. I like my truck to be as light at possible, and by narrowing my truck in the rear, I cut the fat-and thus my truck's overall weight. The second reason I narrowed my truck is that my wheelbase is longer than a normal rig's, and narrowing created a better departure angle so I don't hit and scrape it on as many rocks."
Name/hometown: Shawn Radcliff/Aztec,New Mexico
Vehicle: '85 Chevy Blazer
Narrowed (f/r, in.): 12/24
In his own words: "We started out by shortening the rear of the frame by about 12 inches, and the rear shackles have been flipped for more departure clearance. We started building the rollcage in the cab of the Blazer first. We narrowed the front and rear fenders to get more side clearance for better approach and departure angles. We tapered the rear of the rollcage so the rear fenders could be attached to it. The suspension has not been lifted or modified from factory height, so more tire clearance was needed in the fenderwells. All of the fenders have the fenderwells removed, and the fender skins are attached directly to the rollcage. This Blazer is still street-legal and routinely driven to trails in Farmington."
Name/hometown: Ed Duff/Farmington, New Mexico
Vehicle: '85 Chevy Blazer
Narrowed (f/r, in.): 12/8
In his own words: "My Blazer is narrowed front and rear. All the body panels are removable and are attached to the cage. I built the cage in the front to protect and hold the radiator, and then I made the fenders fit the cage. I wanted to keep it as street-legal as possible, so I made the stock headlights and turn signals fit. I kept it as narrow as possible in the front to prevent body damage and to create the best approach angle I could. I bobbed one foot from the rear of the frame, right to the rear of the leaf springs. I flipped the shackles and built the rear bumper to hold them."
Name/hometown: Eric Landis/Grand Junction, Colorado
Vehicle: '85 Toyota Xtracab pickup
Narrowed (f/r, in.): None/24
In his own words: "My primary reason for narrowing the rear of my truck was to lower the weight of my vehicle by cutting the fat. Other benefits were to keep the body out of the rocks. We cut the fenders out of the old bed that we had already bobbed, and we tack-welded them to a simple tube frame to hold them in place. We retained the fenders so it would still have a truck-look profile. As a side note, I also wanted roll protection, so I devised the 'nub' or 'spike' system. It provides the exterior protection of an exocage using less material. This keeps the overall weight down and further helps retain a stock-truck look."
Name/hometown: Ed Laliberte/Brighton, Colorado
Vehicle: '85 GMC Jimmy
Narrowed (f/r, in.): 18/none
In his own words: "I narrowed the front of my rig to improve visibility and approach angle. The Warn 8274 winch and the headlights were moved behind the grille, and the grille is narrowed by 18 inches. To compensate for the narrowing, each front fender was created from two fenders sectioned together. This also enables me to run with the doors on and have door seams line up. The front wheelwells are also enlarged." FW