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4x4 Trucks - Square Pegs With Round Wheels - Readers' Rigs Bonanza!

Posted in Features on January 1, 2007
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Photographers: The Readers of Four Wheeler

And then there are the nonconformists-the one-percenters out there for whom a plain ol' K-truck, F-series, or CJ won't suffice. Maybe they scored a great deal on a military surplus rig. Or perhaps they simply enjoy the challenge of building an "unbuildable" project. Or perhaps they found a one-of-a-kind truck overseas. Or maybe they're just gluttons for punishment (et tu, Scout?). Whatever their reasons, these dedicated 'wheelers send us plenty of pics of their rigs too, and this month it's our pleasure to share a few of them here.

From snowy Tallmadge, Ohio, comes Joe Ansley's Big 'Binder, a '73 International Travelall 1210 that has seen "many improvements" over the years. The IH's 392ci V-8 has been treated to an Edelbrock four-barrel and a four-core radiator to keep it cool, and while the 727 trans does a good job of turning the 4.10:1-geared Dana 44 and 60 axles, a Dana 70 front and Spicer RA15 rear from a 1-ton Scout donor vehicle ("I try to keep it all IHC parts," says Joe) are in the works, as are 4.88:1s and Air Lockers. Fenders had to be trimmed (they were likely rusted anyway) to clear 38-inch Swampers on the stock steelies, and a Ramsey 9000 up front aids with recovery when those Buckeye snowdrifts get a little too deep.

Wheeler's Law # 101: Any photo of a Readers' Rig in a parking lot automatically ends up in the trash-unless, of course, it doesn't, and Jason Tavares' immaculate ARO is the exception to the rule. Jason traveled all the way to Romania to find the '69 M461, then had it shipped back to the States after driving 1,500 miles across Europe. Based on the famed Soviet GAZ 69 platform, the rig is still largely stock, and with solid axles, 45-degree approach and departure angles, and more than a foot of ground clearance, we wouldn't recommend changing much of anything on it, either. The stock 3.1L diesel I-4 was only rated at 70 hp when brand-new, but as Jason points out, the mill has only 10,000 miles of use and puts out "awesome" torque to keep him 'wheeling along the trails near his Whitehall, New York home.

Stop snickering already. We'll admit this Salsa Red '02 Liberty Limited is Tammy Myers daily driver, but her husband Jim is quick to point out, "it does see the trails" around Frackville, Pennsylvania. The Jeep is bone-stock under the hood, though a K&N helps the 3.7L breathe more freely, and the little Lib' has been treated to a 211/42-inch Rusty's Off Road lift and full skidplating. The 31-inch Goodyear MT/Rs on Rubicon Moab alloy rims are a big improvement over the OE rubber, and should Tammy take a wrong turn in the Pennsylvania backcountry, a Cobra CB and Firestick II antenna are on board to provide trailside assistance.

Martin MacFarland's way-cool '50 Chevy actually started its life-or part of it, at least-as a '77 Stepside. The latter truck's bodywork was history, but the frame, engine, and running gear were salvageable and thoroughly refreshened. Next, the '50 body-taken from a 111/42-ton truck-was treated to a shot of Viper Red paint, and was lifted 5 inches above the Stepside frame. The rear fenders were moved 211/42 inches forward, and the running boards were trimmed an equal amount to make room for the 38.5-inch TSLs on 16-inch rims. Many new features adorn this eye-catcher, including a wood-and-stainless bed treatment and new bumpers, glass, and lights to better illuminate the trails around Terre Haute, Indiana.

Jeff Clark's Dakota is a textbook example of building on a budget. The '88 runs on a swapped-in 350/TH350/NP208 combo, which in turn spins a pair of GM 10-bolt axles with welded spiders and 4.10:1s via shortened Chevy driveshafts. Chevy 4-inch springs clear the front, and a lift-block/shackle-flip arrangement out back clear 35x14.50-15 TSL Boggers on 15x10 Center Lines. Swapped-in Dana 44 flat-top knuckles enabled Jeff to convert to crossover steering, and a hydroboost pump makes turning the meats near effortless. The truck is entirely homebuilt, Jeff reminds us, and "between using leftover parts and horse trading for the rest," I've got less than $1,500 invested, easy." Too bad we don't host a Cheap Truck Challenge-Jeff's ride would definitely be on our short list of invitees.

We're not exactly sure how this stock-looking FJ-40 Land Cruiser ended up in our pile of Oddball Rigs, but Albert C. Riley certainly has an unusual request: "This is my '75 FJ-40, Serial Number 192466, built in January. I wanted to find out if it is the same one that was in Four Wheeler magazine in the spring or summer issue of that year. Would love to know for sure!" Sadly, Albert, this is not the rig we featured in '75-ours was a built-up Baja racer that's still owned by former publisher Bill Sanders. But heck, we figure you deserve credit for keeping that nice-looking FJ in the dirt-even if it's only parked in a driveway here-in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Brubaker must be salivating over this puppy. What else could a true son of the Midwest do after seeing Ron Clothier's '66 IH 1300A? The rumble of the Borla'd and Holleyfied 502 Chevy resting between homebuilt tuberails would be music to anyone's ears, and the Eaton/Fuller 7206A six-speed (with 9:1 granny gear) and Fabco TC-38 transfer case turning 49-inch IROKs on a Rockwell 1311/42-inch front and Spicer N175 rear axle-both Detroit-Locked-make us think that this Reader Rig would be right at home at Top Truck Challenge. Other good stuff found on this monster includes dual Ramsey winches, a 70-gallon (!) Fuel Safe fuel cell, two Be Cool radiators (one tucked under the bed with electric fan), and dual batteries and alternators that are manually bridgeable should one or the other expire. With these kinds of tech tricks onboard, it should come as no surprise that this Vestal, New York-based rig was built by a mechanical engineer.

Here's another Patrol, no doubt a design more familiar to longtime readers. This trick '67, which sits upon a bobbed '76 Chevy 31/44-ton frame, has been festooned with myriad goodies, including an Edelbrocked and four-cored Chevy 402, an SM465 four-speed, an NP205 and Detroit-Locked Dana 44 and GM 14-bolt axles. Rancho 9000s dampen the ride, and 36x12.50 Swampers provide the grip. A Warn 9500 is also in the works now that the homebuilt bumper and grille have been installed. The Datsun's proud owner, Lamonte Horvath, rides in comfort atop BMW seats, and a Buick tilt steering wheel and Dodge master cylinder help to facilitate go and whoa, respectively, in the mud (and silt?) around Silt, Colorado.

This '00 Kia comes courtesy of Jon and Shelly. (Hint: Send us your full name when submitting Readers' Rigs.) Jon liked the little 'ute for its Jeeplike 93-inch wheelbase and its low price, so he "gutted it, built a back wall, and did a lot of fender trimming." The result is a one-of-a-kind Sportage SUT with dual Warn winches, Warn locking hubs, and equally unique Sigma Wild Spirit RVT radials resting in what's left of the wheelwells. The 2.0L four-banger, five-speed trans and 4.72:1-geared axles remain untouched for now, but with all that surplus sheetmetal discarded, the Kia's power-to-weight should be sufficient to keep it motorvating over the trails near Meridian, Idaho.

A couple of years ago, some unfortunate soul-who shall remain anonymous since we lost his contact info-sent us a Jpeg of this nice-looking Chevy. We normally wouldn't run a photo like this in Four Wheeler-since anyone who can't get his rig out of a mini-mall parking lot without getting high-centered ain't exactly Treading Lightly-but we should give credit where it's due, since the vehicle is off the pavement (well, one wheel, at least), and our intrepid-if-unlucky mall-crawler did prove an important point: a stock Silverado is sadly not a Rubicon runner. Has anyone informed the management of 4-Wheel & Off-Road yet?

Hailing from the Middle East, Jean-Michel Ritter sends us this pic of some Nissan Patrols prowling the deserts near his home in Abu Dhabi. Take it from us, the non-U.S.-spec Patrol is a formidable 'wheeler right out of the box, with either a 260hp 4.8L gas V-6 or a 3.0L turbodiesel six available, not to mention a genuine lever-operated transfer case, pushbutton diff-locks, and link/coil suspension all around. And thanks to the vagaries of geography (and the migration habits of dinosaurs), Jean-Michel and his buddies in the UAE can fill their rigs for about $1.50 a gallon. Some guys have all the luck.

Once the property of the Warsaw Pact, this Soviet UAZ 469 now resides in Iraq, where it performs transport duties for the officers of the new Iraqi Transportation Corps. The successor to the GAZ, the 469 was in production for 24 years (1972-'96), and the '85 version here featured a 2.5L diesel four-banger good for 74 hp, a legendarily weak four-speed grindbox (we can almost hear the housing cracking on impact), and solid axles with front coilover and rear leaf suspension. Tennessee resident Sgt. Lester Hartley sent us this pic, which was taken by his buddy Sgt. Doughdrill. And in case you're wondering how a diehard Volunteer ended up with Crimson Tide magnets on the doors of his ride ... well, the photographer hails from 'Bama. Roll Tide.

A sparkling example of a Wheeler That Works, this '06 F-350 Super Duty is the pride and joy of the Lowell, Indiana, Volunteer Fire Department. The V-10-powered SD has been treated to a 3-inch lift and a set of 33-inch Mickey Thompson 'Claws, and a portable winch ensures forward (or backward) motion in the rough stuff. We like the remote-control front hose and nozzle, and that custom aluminum bed-with dual platforms capable of holding two firefighters apiece-would put our Baja Bomber's chase-truck bed to shame. Also on board-but not visible, of course-are 250 gallons of H20, which would likely explain the airbag assist on the rear suspension.

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