This is the stuff that gets our hearts pounding-the actual use of that truck that you put so much of your blood, sweat, and tears in, and the hopefully triumphant return home after a trip to the backcountry. Man and machine 1, nature 0. This is where everything comes to a head; did you build it stout enough? Did you build it right? Will it get you home? Well, at least you got a good picture before you broke it, right? And here they are-real pictures of real rigs being used as intended. Go figure.
Owner/Hometown: John Ebke/Fairbury, Nebraska
What it is: 1984 Chevrolet K-10
The dirt: We are huge fans of any rig that places function over beauty, and John's K-10 fits the bill to a tee. In the engine bay sits a 350ci V-8 that is bored 0.030 over, decked, and balanced featuring 9:1 compression, pocket-ported heads, hydraulic roller cam, intake, 670-cfm carb, with headers and exhaust. The tranny is a 700R4 that came out of a '90 Silverado and is mated to a NP208 transfer case. To complement the engine mods is a Superlift 2.5-inch lift with Tuff Country shocks, an Off Road Design steering-box brace, sway-bar disconnects, and greaseable shackles. Axles are GM Corporate units stuffed with Superior bits and 4.11:1 gears. The front axle uses a Detroit Truetrac, while the rear has a venerable Detroit Locker, one of our favorite combinations.
Oh, and ...: John tells us if he had to do it again, he would have started with 3/4-ton axles, but is happy with an 8.5-inch and 10-bolt matched with the Interco Truxus 33s.
Owner/Hometown: Eric Cespedes/Saugus, California
What it is: 1993 Wrangler YJ
The dirt: This YJ may only be rocking a stock I-6, but it breathes better thanks to a Rock It air intake, a 1-inch throttle-body spacer, Banks headers, and a custom 3-inch exhaust. Suspension consists of a 5-inch Pro Comp coil conversion and MX6 adjustable monotube shocks. The front Dana 30, with Warn hub conversion, and rear Currie 9-inch carry 4.10:1 gears with an ARB in the front and Detroit in the back. JE Reel driveshafts turn the axles, and the rest of Eric's list of mods reads like the Who's Who in the world of wheeling: Tom Wood's, Optima, Premier Power Welder, Warn, BFGoodrich, American Racing, and PRP, to name a few.
Oh, and ...: It turns out Eric wheels a lot, to places such as Big Bear, Moab, Glamis, Calico, Johnson Valley, and the Superstition Mountains.
Owner/Hometown: Justin Nelson/Redwood Valley, California
What it is: 2006 Toyota FJ Cruiser
The dirt: This modern-day FJ sports a 6-inch Fabtech lift with 2.5-inch Dirt Logic shocks at all four corners. Rolling stock consists of 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts mounted on 18-inch American Racing Mojave wheels, and for a little added protection, this FJ counts on a beefy ARB front bumper. As awesome as this rigs sits now, there is talk about straight axle'ing it in the future-our kind of project.
Oh, and ...: It is actually his Mom's FJ-Now that is one cool Mom!
Owner/Hometown: Nick "Grumpy" Sipes/Bedford, Indiana
What it is: 1987 Suzuki Samurai
The dirt: At one point in its life, this rig was a Suzuki Samurai, and while you can still see hints of the original vehicle, there isn't much Sammy left in this little 'Zuk. Nick tells us he built this rig under a tree and in his garage from a total wreck that included a bent frame and broken axles. He has had the rig more than three years, and in that time managed to build up a 1.8L from a '90 Geo Tracker; drop Calmini 6.5:1 gears into the transfer case; and stick a set of Dana 44s underneath it. Welded in the front and spooled in the back, the 44s sport 5.13:1 gears, which help to turn the 36-inch IROK tires on 15x10 Rock4XFabrications bead-locked wheels. Power steering duty comes from a '92 Jeep Cherokee, and Grizzlyfab.com helped with the build, as well as with the driveshafts.
Oh, and ...: The Sammy was so trashed when Nick bought it, it took him an hour and a half just to load it on the trailer to get it home under the tree.
Owner/Hometown: Rusty Etheridge/Stafford, Virginia
What it is: 1997 Isuzu Rodeo
The dirt: Rusty says this is basically a stock Rodeo, except of course for the sound system (we guess it helps for those long lonely moments where you are stuck, and your buddy thinks enough to snap this picture) and a new set of CV axles that replaced the first set that were broken in the dirt. Hey, at least he takes it on the trail and sends in the photos to prove it. For the most part, Rusty says he keeps up with his friends and their Jeeps.
Oh, and ...: He loves Four Wheeler and encourages us to keep up the good work.
Owner/Hometown: Mike Haid/Unknown
What it is: 1977 Jeep Cherokee
The dirt: It may look like a Cherokee, but underneath lurks the shortened chassis of a '92 Dodge W-250. While lopping 22 inches off the frame of one of your trucks, just to drop the body of your other truck on top, may sound impressive to most, but Mike has one-upped us all because the W-250 came with a 5.9L Cummins, which means Mike now has a diesel-powered, 3/4-ton Cherokee. While Mike admits this is a work in progress, he has big plans for his mutant rig, and we are behind his concept 100 percent.
Oh, and ...: Mike's plates read "2DWG."
What it is: Old Cherokee Chief
The dirt: Only serious wheelers need to apply, because this Cherokee Chief is sporting some real hardware, starting with custom 12-inch shocks and hybrid YJ/Wagoneer/F-250 leaf springs that are outboard in the front and inboard in the rear. In case things get hairy, there is a Grizzlyfab.com seven-point rollcage, Jaz Racing seats with four-point RJH racing harness, and a Warn M8000 winch. The body has been trimmed for tire clearance, and underbody rock lights brighten up the trail at night. And for the racecar driver in all of us, the dash sports SunPro gauges and a quick-disconnect steering wheel.
Oh, and ...: The rock knobs are made from stones out of one of our favorite off-road parks, the Badlands in Attica, Indiana.
Owner/Hometown: Jay Lian/Longview, Washington
What it is: 1996 Chevrolet Silverado K1500
The dirt: Meet Jay Lian's Silverado, which takes him and his kids wheeling as much as possible. It has been lifted with a 6-inch RCD Suspension system, and rocks a set of 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires mounted on Ultra Xtreme wheels. Yukon 4.56:1 gears twist the meats at both ends with the assistance of Detroit Truetrac differentials. The 5.7L gains a little extra rock-churning grunt from an S&B Cold Air Intake, Hypertech III Programmer, and dual 40-Series Flowmasters, and if the sound of dual Flows wasn't enough, Jay also has a pretty nice sound system.
Oh, and ...: Jay loves pulling out Fords.
Owner/Hometown: Unknown, but we know a Tech Editor who would trade a prized Willys for it
What it is: 1984 Jeep Scrambler
The dirt: Wow. We want to see more rigs like this. Not only does it look amazing, but a quick read of the spec sheet shows that this CJ has the proper credentials to unleash an endless stream of drool from just about any Four Wheeler staffer. Let us start with the 377ci Chevy stroker engine, complete with Edelbrock heads and Ram Jet injection, backed by a built 700R4 tranny. Or we could mention the Atlas II 3.8, high-pinion Dana 60s, 4.88:1 gears, and ARB lockers. How about that custom rollcage, Beard suspension seats, or spring-over suspension? We could go on, but we aren't prepared for the inevitable thoughts on how to acquire or build such a vehicle that would follow.
Oh, and ...: This beauty was built by Overbuilt Customs in Jacksonville, Florida.
What it is: 2000 Chevy S-10 ZR2
The dirt: This clean S-10 ZR2 has a total of 4 inches of lift, two from the body, 2 from the suspension, and 33-inch tires on Eagle Alloy rims. The front pushbar has a set of auxiliary lights to help for those impromptu night-wheeling sessions and the bed is lined in Rhino liner with an aluminum toolbox. Next up are a winch and interior upgrades.
Oh, and ...: This is Spencer's daily driver.
Owner/Hometown: Dan Cronan/Dayton, Ohio
What it is: 2006 Jeep Wrangler X
The dirt: It looks nearly submerged, and it doesn't even have a snorkel! Maybe this is because Dan Cronan has built this TJ right with a 3-inch Black Diamond lift and a set of 31x10.50 Goodyear MT/Rs. The Super 30 front axle and Super 35 rear axle have been further upgraded with 4.11:1 gears and Auburn ECTED traction aids. The stock 4.0L and five-speed manual benefit from a K&N FIPK (obviously high in the engine bay). TKH bumpers and rock sliders further round out the package, but we'd add some more waterproofing.
Oh, and ...: Some refer to this TJ as the Electric Banana.
Owner/Hometown: US Government/Washington, D.C.
What it is: AM General HMMWV Humvee
The dirt: SPC Hardman sent this picture in from Iraq. This is a M1114 up-armored Humvee with a 6.5L turbodiesel that is used for convoy security. During training exercises, they climbed one of the highest hills they could find in the desert and ended up getting high-centered. Oops. See, it happens to the best of us, even in really cool rigs.
Oh, and ...: SPC Hardman says he'll be sending more pics our way, and we can't wait.
Owner/Hometown: Josh Adams/Blissfield, Michigan
What it is: 1994 S-10 Chevrolet Blazer
The dirt: We never did like S-10s with the factory IFS much, and by the looks of it, neither did Josh Adams, who ripped it out and replaced the factory suspension and axles on his S-10 Blazer with a Dana 30 front and Ford 8.8 in the rear, with 4.56:1 gears and 37-inch Boggers, giving the little Blazer a monster 13 inches of lift over stock.
Oh, and ...: Josh never did make it out of this hole, so he is going bigger with a Dana 60 front and 14-bolt rear axle.
Owner/Hometown: Heath Mullins/King George, Virginia
What it is: '91 Toyota Pickup
The dirt: The engine and transmission remain stock, though the factory axles feature cryogenically treated gearing from Longfield Super Axles. The front axle is trussed, plus it has a differential from an FJ80 (high-pinion variant) equipped with a Lock-Right locker. A pair of stout drivelines by Tom Wood's features 1310 U-joints. The 35-inch Pro-Comp Xterrains mounted to Champion bead locks provide traction, while dual transfer cases allow for the perfect crawl ratio.
Oh, and ...: Bilstein 5150 piggyback shocks dampen the rough stuff, and a Ramsey 9500 winch helps keep Heath out of trouble while out and about.
Owner/Hometown: SPC Charles Miller/Currently in Mannheim, Germany
What it is: 1972 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40
The dirt: While it is mostly stock, this FJ sports some elements that make it more functional on the trail, like 5.29:1 gears, a Detroit Locker out back, along with custom bumpers and protection. SPC Miller has big plans for the FJ, such as a 4-inch lift, a front locker, 35-inch tires, and some more body trimming.
Oh, and ...: This photo was taken in Red Canyon near Canon City, Colorado.
Owner/Hometown: Barry Jordan/Lutz, Florida
What it is: '77 Chevy Blazer
The dirt: Formerly one of Skyjacker Suspension's corporate vehicles, Barry found it on eBay in 2005. The rig is powered by a built 383 stroker with flat-top pistons, a 270 Comp camshaft, 441 heads, a Holley 770-cfm Truck Avenger carburetor, and Hedman headers. The power flows through a TH400 and an NP205 transfer case. The Blazer sits on 38-inch Super Swampers on 15x12 Allied Rock-a-Thon steel bead-lock wheels. A Skyjacker 6-inch suspension lift allows plenty of flex, while an Off-Road Design rear-shackle flip kit provides additional clearance.
Oh, and ...: Up front, there's a Dana 44 equipped with an Ox Locker and MileMarker stainless-steel locking hubs. The rear axle is a GM 12-bolt with a Detroit Locker.