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March 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - Drivelines

Posted in Features on March 1, 2009
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Elsewhere in this issue, Fred Williams will tell you about the hottest new 4x4 accessories he found at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Drivelines was at SEMA, too, and here are some of the cool trucks and other stuff we spotted there.

Ford SVT Raptor
There has been so much said, written, and blogged about Ford's Raptor-a Baja-ready race truck you can buy at a Ford dealership-that it was exciting to finally see one in the flesh, so to speak. SVT's F-150 variant is 7 inches wider than a standard F-truck, and its suspension revisions include new upper and lower front control arms (that allow 11 inches of travel) and Fox Racing internal bypass shocks. The Raptor rides on 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires that have been reworked by BFG with a softer tread compound for grip and a firmer carcass to improve lateral stiffness. The truck will be powered by the 5.4L Triton V-8 at launch (320 hp and 390 lb-ft), though a 6.2L, 400hp V-8 will be available later. This is the big-block engine project that had been nicknamed Hurricane and later Boss by Ford but was reportedly cancelled when gas prices spiked last year. The SVT Raptor will go on sale this summer.

PhotosView Slideshow

Tacoma V-8 Incross Concept
This Tacoma concept was much more subtle than the two on the next page, but significant nonetheless. If its proportions look different, that's because the Access Cab has been backed by a Double Cab's short box, and the whole thing sits on a shorter frame. Under the hood is what Toyota says is its first use of the i-Force 4.7L V-8 in a Tacoma. The 271hp engine is fitted with TRD headers and a custom dual exhaust. Now that gas prices are getting realistic again, maybe it's time for a V-8 Tacoma from the factory.

Bigfoot Chevy Silverado
Huh? Why is "Bigfoot," traditionally a Blue Oval name, being used for a Chevy? To demonstrate that Midwest Four Wheel Drive near St. Louis, home to the Bigfoot monster trucks, can do "just about anything you want," said the guys sitting next to the truck. In this case we're talking about a custom solid-axle driveline with a divorced GM transfer case and rear steering, a four-link/coilover suspension system with 30-plus inches of lift, and a Duramax diesel equipped to run nitrous oxide.

Hummer H3T Weekend Warrior
According to GM, this Hummer concept demonstrates how the H3T's capability and functionality can be improved "with just a few weekends in the garage." Underhood, the 5.3L V-8 in this Alpha model received new cylinder heads, a hotter cam, and custom exhaust, all worth nearly 70 hp. The chassis sports Light Racing JounceShocks and 2-inch-diameter Rod Hall Racing piggyback reservoir-type performance shocks, while each corner mounts a 20-inch Hummer wheel and a 35-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A. The KTM 450 SX-F dirt bike in the bed is caged with a Hummer bed extender and the H3T's cargo management system.

Sport Chassis P4XL
XL is right. This was the biggest "pickup" we saw at the SEMA Show, and we tried to photograph it with people around to give you a sense of its massive scale. The P4XL is built from a Freightliner M2 106 business-class chassis fitted with an all-wheel-drive system, an 8.3L Cummins diesel, and an Allison automatic transmission. In-cab electronics include a Premiere Audio Environment by Pioneer, DirecTV satellite, and Autonet mobile wireless Internet, plus a Sony PlayStation and headrest monitors.

Bushwacker ZJ Project
What are those things sticking out from that Jeep's front fenders? Horizontal curb feelers? Directional CB antennae? Nope. Paintball guns. Your spotter will love 'em.

Tacoma Retro
Sitting behind the fully independent Tacoma (right) was this Retro concept, an '80s throwback complete with period-correct cream paint, strobe graphics, smiley KC HiLites on top of a double-hoop bed bar, and-you guessed it-a solid front axle. Actually, both of the truck's axles and its transfer case were donated by a Land Cruiser and fitted to the Tacoma by the Toyota Motorsports technical group.

PhotosView Slideshow

'70 Ford F-100 Explorer
As something of a counterpoint to the muscular Raptor, elsewhere in the Ford booth was this immaculate F-100, an unrestored example from National Parts Depot with just 19 miles on the odometer. It was purchased with the intent of being a museum piece, so the truck was heavily optioned with the upscale Explorer Special package (Explorer Green paint, plaid upholstery, mag-style wheels), power accessories, and air conditioning. The truck's 215hp 360ci V-8 was mated to a C6 automatic transmission and a 9-inch rear axle. A real time capsule.

PhotosView Slideshow

TRD Tacoma Off-Road Concept
Of the several Tacoma-based project trucks Toyota had at SEMA, the most intriguing was TRD's Off-Road Concept, an '09 Access Cab 4x4 with a wide-body styling treatment covering a track width that was increased by 7 inches. Underhood was a supercharged 4.0L V-6, but a mirror on the floor tipped us off to the truck's big surprise: an independent rearend with inboard disc brakes, titanium coil springs, Bilstein shocks, and control arms good for 14 inches of travel. Another pair of long-travel arms provides 13 inches of travel in front. There was no word as to production intent for this truck, but it looks like it would be very, very fun.

PhotosView Slideshow

Spied! '10 Ram 2500
Eagle-eyed (and camera-ready) reader Matt from Brighton, Michigan, spotted on the road what is most likely the '10 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty and snapped a couple photos for us. "All I could really tell was that it was a Dodge (from the front end, the mirrors, and the Mega Cab), 3/4-ton (from the wheels and eight-lug bolt pattern), and gas (from the exhaust)." The new Rams, without camo, should debut at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Raptor R Tackles Baja
An R model of the Raptor has been prepped to race in this year's Baja 1000. The race truck is based on the production Raptor, though it has been upgraded with a 500hp version of the upcoming 6.2L V-8, longer-travel suspension, a racing rollcage, and other safety equipment. Steve Olliges, with co-drivers Randy Merritt, Greg Foutz, and Bud Brutsman, will drive the truck in Class 8. And we plan to be there, too, for the real inside scoop.

KOPL: Not Just Another Volunteer Program
The Kids on Public Land (KOPL) program, developed and run by off-road volunteers, is funded by off-road groups and local Southern California businesses. KOPL's objective is to bring underprivileged, 8- to 12-year-old urban kids to the forest for an out-of-city experience. Even the three-hour mountain-road bus ride gives most of the kids an experience they've never had, since only about 5 of the 100 kids who participate in the annual KOPL program have ever been to a forest, much less gone off-roading.

The kids who attended our '08 KOPL program represented a cross section of inner-city life and were selected through the Anaheim YMCA and Anaheim Police Activities League (PAL) after-school programs.

Once the kids stepped off the bus at the Discovery Center in Big Bear, volunteers coordinated all activities, which included gold panning, watching a motorcycle demonstration, trying on protective safety equipment, and having a picture taken while sitting on a motorcycle. The highlight of the day was a trail ride in the front seat of a 4x4. Between the front-seat chatter and talking to their friends on the CB, the kids asked questions like, "Who planted all these trees?" and, "Who waters them?" Just the thought of these kids returning to an inner-city life with a positive experience is enough reward for most of the 100-plus volunteers and sponsors to return next year.

To learn more about KOPL, visit To learn more about becoming an OHV volunteer in the San Bernardino National Forest, visit
-Rick Russell

This Just In
* At the SEMA Show, General Tire announced a $170,000 contingency program for racers using Grabber tires in the Baja 1000. According to General, this is the largest posted contingency for a single race in the history of SCORE. And the prizes are pretty sweet: If a Grabber-shod truck wins First overall, the contingency payout is $30,000, and that's on top of the contingency money awarded for the class win.

* General also announced that it was sponsoring Baja Pits at the 1000. Baja Pits A.C. is a nonprofit corporation that provides contract pit services to privateer racers at Southwest desert races. General also said it would offer free pit support to any racer running Grabbers.

* In one more bit of Baja news, Volkswagen announced it would enter a clean-diesel-powered race Touareg in the Trophy Truck class at this year's 1000. The VW is the first turbodiesel to contest the Trophy Truck class in the 1000, and it will be piloted by Baja veterans Mark Miller and Ryan Arciero.

* As of this writing in mid-November, the news out of the automotive industry is uniformly bad. We're going to spare you the gory details. (You want to be entertained, not depressed, right?) But we thought this would make you feel better: After the GM/Chrysler merger talks ended with no deal, Hyundai announced that it was not interested in buying the Jeep brand from Chrysler.

Earth Watch
* BFGoodrich has recognized two more off-roading areas as part of its Outstanding Trails program. Working with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations, BFG has added to its program the Pritchett Canyon Trail southwest of Moab and the Beasley Knob OHV area in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. Local 4WD clubs-in this case the Moab Friends-for-Wheelin' and the Georgia Bounty Runners-will receive grants from BFG to help preserve the areas for future use. Since the Outstanding Trails program began two years ago, it has recognized 11 off-road trails in nine states and two in Canada and has given $42,000 in grants to clubs.

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