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April 2012 Trail's End: Chrysler T-Rex 6x6

Posted in Features on April 1, 2012
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One of the coolest concepts to roll out of Chrysler Corporation in the ’90s was the “T-Rex” 6x6, and we featured it in the July ’97 issue of Four Wheeler ( T-Rex was an acronym for Technology Research Experimental vehicle. After spending some time with the truck, and the engineers who designed it, we didn’t hide the fact that we were amazed and impressed.

Chrysler Corporation's T-Rex 6x6 concept.

The T-Rex was based on a second-generation regular cab Dodge Ram 1-ton truck. The back half of the trucks frame was completely custom and it included a pair of huge crossmembers to support the Firestone airbag suspension with adjustable shocks. The air suspension was controlled by a Delphi computer and it had vehicle position sensors as well as sensors on the airbags and shocks. The upshot was that shock valving and vehicle ride height could be easily adjusted via a knob on the dash.

T-Rex’s driveline was a fascinating piece of engineering. It sported a trio of Dana 60 axles and both rear 60s were driven. The truck was fitted with two transfer cases (a custom NVG 244 HD mounted in the normal location and a custom-damped 1:1 gear ratio Dana unit mounted directly to the first rear Dana 60 with a driveshaft that ran above that axle to the second Dana 60) and it offered four separate four-wheel and six-wheel drive options, which were controlled by a rotary dial on the dash.

Propelling the 6,840-pound truck was an 8.0L V-10 engine that put out 400hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Engine mods included a billet crank, 12:1 ported and polished heads, a new cam grind, larger fuel injectors, forged steel rods, and aluminum roller rockers, among other things. It drank 108-octane racing fuel. The engine was mated to a modified 47RE automatic transmission.

The T-Rex was relatively compact at slightly over 19 feet in length; it had an impressive payload capacity of 5,000 pounds; and a maximum towing capacity of 14,000 pounds.

There was a rumor that the T-Rex would go into production in 2003, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was that Chrysler’s T-Rex was the catalyst for people like Stan Prueitt to build a similar rig. Prueitt’s V-10-powered rig rolled on 2½-ton Rockwell axles and we featured it in the Dec. ’02 issue of Four Wheeler. Apparently Prueitt’s truck struck a chord with Four Wheeler readers because they voted him and his 6x6 into Top Truck Challenge 2004.

Stan Prueitt's 6x6.

In the end, we can’t help but wonder what the pickup truck market would look like today if Chrysler had mass produced the T-Rex 6x6.

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