Our Favorite rigs from 2006
How could we pick one moose buggy and not the other? We'd never seen anything like 'em, and we probably won't again until we make it back to Alaska. Brook's and Chris' big moose buggies were such a treat to take through the swamps, and dazzled us with their utilitarian nature. While Brook took a bit more extreme approach with coilovers , Terra tires, and a fuel-injected 513ci engine, John equally impressed with his fuel-injected 454ci engine, 44-inch Swampers, and a super-cool airplane tug CJ-10 platform. Both were running hydraulic steering and seats for two, and both could carry enough meat to feed a family for a winter. See why we had to call this one a draw between the two?
Building a cool body that's rarely seen and even less-rarely modified can create all sorts of attention. Brian's Foreign Jeep 45 was built to take abuse off-road. An NV4500 five-speed spins through a Northwest Fab doubler kit (NP203/NP205 cases) and 4.10 gears (Dana 60 front/14-bolt rear) out to 39.5-inch Boggers on black steelies. More American muscle sits underhood in the form of 396 cubic inches of Chevy Rat. And like we wish we all did, Brian daily drives this thing to work and back in the bay area of Northern California. We're green with envy.
Nothing fancy, nothing special but something tells us it could follow just about any other 4x4 on just about any trail. Simple and sound equipment like a basic TBI 350 V-8, a basic TH400 transmission, a basic NP203/ NP205 doubler kit, basic Dana 60 and 14-bolt axles with basic 5.13 gears and lockers, and basic 39.5-inch Irok tires on basic Rockcrawler wheels. "What about those coilovers," you ask? Well, basically, they are slowly replacing leaf springs. And, basically, that's it. Eric took some of the best proven off-road hardware and wrapped it into a sweet working package. Basically.
Wayne's 9-to-5 job (that's 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.!) with the band Static-X is slightly outside the norm. His 10-inch-tall spiked hair and equally-groomed beard might be a bit exaggerated. But it's his kickin' Bronco that's the wild-child screamer to warn your daughters about. The Poly Performance- linked and Fox-coilovered suspension gets cranked by a howling fuel-injected 302 and Atlas 4.3 transfer case. Tera 60 CRD axles are crammed with 5.13 gears with a Detroit (Rock City) Locker in the rear and a T-locker up front. Finishing off the axles are 39.5-inch Irok tires on Allied bead locks, while the body's been inked in ghost flames.
We invited Nate back for a second Ultimate Adventure not just because he's a good guy and a wheeler's wheeler, but also because he completely reconfigured his Wagoneer "Chalupa" since the preceding year. Gone is the woodgraining and self-removing chrome trim, only to be replaced with olive drab paint and removable door skins stretched over tubing. The rig already had the guts with a pair of Detroit Lockers and 4.56 gearsets filling a front Dana 60 and a rear 14-bolt. The Chevy TBI 350 gets help from 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, and 6:1 ratios in the Offroad Design Doubler transfer-case setup. We also like seeing 15 feet of fullsize Jeep hanging from a winch cable on an 18-foot cliff.
Here's another great guy we invited back for a second U.A. who also completely rebuilt his truck. (See a pattern here?) John might've replaced his 44-inch Boggers with shorter 39-inch Krawlers, but the difference in tire size didn't matter behind the built big-block and John's right foot. Actually, at this year's U.A., John showed us that his Bronco's dovetailed bodywork, 14-inch King coilovers, double transfer cases (NP203/ NP205), and Dana 60/14-bolt axles (Detroited and spooled, respectively) can crawl rocks as well as explode through the sand. A fullsize that'll do it all.
How cool is this? OK, so maybe not the first choice for tight and technical trail riding, but you've gotta love the old-school looks mixed with the modern ('97) 7.3L Power Stroke diesel and a five-speed tranny. And remember, Tim built the extended cab from what was a regular cab. Add to this front and rear Dana 60s with 4.10:1 gears, a rear Detroit Locker, a hidden winch, and Super Duty leaf springs to provide a 6-inch lift to clear the 36-inch Swampers. Way cool.
How can you not give huge props to a fully 'caged race ride that can not only pull 7+ footers but also crawl among the best rockcrawlers? The DXR ZJ was something else to take a ride in, for sure. It would pound through a whoops section at 90 mph and ended up taking home First Place in its class at last year's Baja 1000. A stroked and modified inline six-cylinder churned power to 35-inch Baja TAs, while King coilovers and bypass shocks handled the hard hits. What's not to love about this high flyer? The stickers.
We can never get enough of big-block-powered fullsize 4x4s. Never. It doesn't matter a bit if they're 60 years old either like Kermit's blazing orange P. Wagon. By bolting the classic body to a '72 Dodge 1-ton chassis, Kermit's dad Shannon gained front and rear Dana 70 axles with 4.88 gears and an NP205 to turn 35-inch Boggers on Bart wheels. A Dodge 440 with a 727 TorqueFlite from a '73 Winnebago provide the twist necessary for not only the drivetrain but also the PTO winch.
We came across this unique crew cab in Pritchett Canyon in Moab during Easter Jeep Safari and fell in love with its dual sport buildup. Scott had found himself a set of the old Walker Evans prerunner fiberglass fenders and bolted them up to a fullsize rockcrawler that he built using longer and flatter leaf springs. This dual sport Dodge could tuck up 40-inch MTRs in the rocks, and give a smooth ride on rough dirt roads. Besides how well it worked, we loved the look and simplistic build that Scott came up with. It could haul his entire family up the trail and survive a little rock play.