Walking Softly, Carrying A Big Stick
Have you noticed more features adhering to this low-slung, more subtle-looking build theme lately? It’s not just because that’s what we like; it’s because that’s what many newer truck builds are trending toward. The days of tall lift kits and “loud looking” trucks seem to be growing even shorter as enthusiasts’ tastes change and they become more experienced and educated, wanting more overall performance out of their trucks.
Bigger tires, not bigger lifts, help when off road. We look at lift kits as devices to get bigger tires on trucks. While performance parts are often included in lift kit packages (better shocks, beefier steering, better leaf packs, etc.), you can add stronger, beefier parts to a vehicle sitting at almost stock ride height, too.
With a lower 4x4 comes a subtler look. Think, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” It’s more fun to hide your vehicle’s might behind the cloak of an almost stock truck. Not only will it impress when performing, but it’ll impress in the parking lot, too, when someone takes a closer look.
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Take Scott Becker’s 1987 Comanche for example. Scott sat his Comanche on 2-inch-taller dual-rate coil springs in front and kept factory leaf packs in the rear. Because Scott used Hannemann fiberglass fenders and bedsides, 33-inch Goodyear tires fit with room to spare on the Comanche. At a glance, you wouldn’t think this Comanche had any bigger tires than what Jeep put on.
But, there’s a long-travel runner hiding under this low-slung silver sleeper. It took some time to figure out how to get 12 inches of usable travel out of a unit-body Jeep that sits lower than most stock 4x4s—especially using bolt-on parts and doing no major fabrication. But, you’d never know it from 10 feet away. At a glance on the street, Scott’s Comanche simply looks like a clean older truck with an ARB camper tent and some new wheels and tires. Who would know that there’s an aluminum LS 5.3L V-8 packed into a long-travel truck, getting better fuel economy than the stock motor? Subtlety rules.
Vehicle: 1987 Jeep Comanche Chief
Owner: Scott Becker
Chassis: Factory unit body/rear frame
Engine: Chevy LS 5.3L aluminum block with aluminum heads, K&N air intake
Transmission/T-case: Chevy 4L60E automatic transmission, NP231 transfer case with Advance Adapters adapter, Driveline Service driveshafts
Front axle: Dana 30 with 4.10 gears, ARB locker, Lube Locker seals, ARB differential cover, inner axle truss stuffed into axle tubes
Rear axle: Currie HD 9-Inch with extra bracing, ARB locker in Strange nodular iron third member, 4.10 gears
Suspension: MetalCloak dual-rate coil springs, control arms, and track bar, Metal-Cloak Six Pack shocks, stock rear spring-under leaf springs
Brakes: Crown brake lines, front stock disc, rear Wilwood disc brakes
Tires/Wheels: Goodyear Silent Armor 305/70R16 tires/Pro Comp 16-inch aluminum wheels
Interior: Reupholstered factory bench seat, vinyl flooring
Other Parts: Power Tank on Kargo Master bed rack, ARB rooftop tent, Hannemann fiberglass fenders and bedsides, Proto Fab front bumper with Hella Black Magic auxiliary lights