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Best of 2002 - Top 10 Best Rigs

Posted in Features on December 1, 2002
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road archives

So you think you know the best 10 rigs that came out of the pages of 4-Wheel & Off-Road this year? We think we do. "Oh please!" you say? "How can desk jockeys tell what's cool or not?" Well, you've got a point. But we're not always riding the leather recliner, and sometimes, every great once in a while, we get to witness some pretty cool 4x4s in action. And since most of us at 4-Wheel & Off-Road have fully functioning brains, we figured that our picks would be adequate. Now this might be contrary to what some of you might think, but you know what? You can just take your opinion and...never mind. They won't let us print that. But if you think you know better, then send us your thoughts on what you think are the 10 coolest vehicles of 2002. If we get enough replies, we'll think about featuring what our beloved readers believe are the best of the best. In the meantime, take a look at what we think is pretty awesome. We might not be so thickheaded after all.

Sid Horman's '83 K5 Blazer
"Fluorescent Camo K5," August
This camo-K5 is one that everyone liked. It is a "simple and straightforward, clean buildup" in the words of Christian Hazel. A 502 big-block, 1-ton axles, a TH400 trans, and an NP205 with a 4:1 kit are definitely signs of assured reliability in all conditions. There were really no crazy contraptions or custom stuff we'd never seen before, just a 'good ol' stump rippin' setup that will keep Sid movin' and us admiring for a long time to come. It's a good thing that the rollcage was painted lime-green, or else we might have swiped Sid's K5 while he wasn't looking.

Joey Sotomayer's F-250
"Comstruction Zone," June
Enough already with "Tonka" on the back of trucks. Yes, it's yellow and has big-fatty 39s, but "Tonka" has just been overdone (it was overused six years ago). Nevertheless, this is one bad F-250 with a straight-axle Dana 60 conversion and a 20,000 PTO winch, so you know it'll never stop. Sotomayer might not have our favorite paint scheme, but we're sure fans of his big-block and C6 that send power to his 5.13 gears.

Maurice Rozo's '01 Suburban
"Excursion Killer," May, June, July
Can you say "supersweet"? What other full-tube chassis'ed 'Burb with 420 hp that can rocket down a desert stretch at 100-plus mph do you know of? If that's not enough for you, how about the fact that it can be aired out 5 feet with no worries as the King coilovers soak up the ride? It might look like an '01 Suburban, but believe us, it sure doesn't drive like one.

Casey Groth's CJ7
"Uncommon Ground," April
Can you say "overbuilt"? Groth, not wanting to take any chances, threw in some Rockwell 211/42-ton axles mounted to a three-link suspension and directed by a hydraulic ram. With a 125-inch extended-cab-truck-like wheelbase, there ain't nuthin' that's gonna stop this CJ when those 44-inch tires mosey themselves up and down the Oklahoma trails.

Drew Barber's '87 'Burban
"Powderkeg," January
This is probably one of the most bitchin' 'Burbs to ever come out of Colorado. In fact, we wouldn't mind seeing more of Drew's '87 in the future since we only have one shot of it. The Suburban sports a 4-inch lift with 42-inch Swampers and a Cummin's 5.9 turbodiesel. The Getrag transmission kept this rig from being a unanimous pick, but it still made it.

Justin Barnes & Dale Wheeler's '77 F-150
"Caterpillar," March
Four inches of lift and 42-inch Swampers? It seems as if Justin Barnes and Dale Wheeler have been subscribing to the same idea as Barber and his 'Burb (below). Some generous fender trimming has been done in order to stuff those meats attached to the two Dana 60s. The 400M won't set quarter-mile records, but with a C6 and an Off Road Design transfer-case doubler kit, you can bet it'll crawl up most anything.

Jason Paule's CJ-7
"Twisted," September
At least this looks like a CJ-7. Far from stock form, this CJ sports a full-tube chassis and is built to the hilt. A full coilover suspension and all-wheel steering make this rig one not to mess with in the rocks. In the simple words of Rick Pw, "It works."

Christian Hazel's Ramcharger
"Staffer's Vehicle-Wait, what the...?!"
We know, we know. How sorry can we get? Picking one of our own vehicles is the lowest of the low, but come on! Check this thing out! It's been beat by Hazel for years and has been the platform for many project ideas. It has graced the pages of 4-Wheel & Off-Road tons of times, and besides, he's leaving us for a sister rag anyway. So think of this as a farewell tribute to a great tech editor who brought you lots of great stuff, and we'll leave it at that.

Mark Hanson's '82 Toy
"Superunknown," March
What the hell is that thing anyway? Well, it is kind of a Toyota. Remember we said "kind of." With all the tube work and mods to this thing, about the only thing that resembles a Toy is the beat-up cab. But this thing was still so sick that it got four out of five votes. Hydraulic steering, a fat winch, ARB lockers, and 44-inch Swampers make this rig something not to scoff at.

Jim Otis' '74 K10
"Juggernaut," February
Ah, the Juggernaut. Jim Otis put on the happy juice that we all want. And with nitrous flowing to a 502 big-block, and power eventually ending up at dual Dana 60s turning 39-inch Boggers, why wouldn't it make the top 10? Jim has been thrashing his truck on the trail and in mudbogs for nine years, proving its reliability, so take heed if you see the word "Zoom" on the fender next to you in the lanes.

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