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November 2012 Readers’ Rides

Posted in Features on November 1, 2012
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The Lone Ranger
Vehicle: 1994 Ford Ranger
Owner: Ben Lesire, O’Fallon, IL
Tires & Wheels: 37s on recentered H1 beadlocks
Suspension: Custom solid-axle conversion with Jeep Wagoneer front leaves and 63-inch Chevy rear leaves, nets around 4 inches of total lift
Drivetrain: M5OD, 1354 doubler, Dana 60 front, 14-bolt rear, both locked with 4.10 gears
Performance Mods: 4.0L
Other Doodads: Custom exo-cage and bed, frame shortened 14 inches, 113-inch wheelbase
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes
Anything to add?: The truck gets driven to and from the trails, never trailered. The last trip was a 3,200-mile trek from St. Louis to Glacier National Park in Montana. My wife calls the truck the Lone Ranger because it is rare to see anything other than a Jeep on the trails in my area.

Toy Art
Vehicle: 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Owner: Artur Dobek, Skokie, IL
Tires & Wheels: General Grabbers on 17-inch wheels
Suspension: Stock
Drivetrain: Stock
Performance Mods: Stock
Other Doodads: WAAS XS rack, Warn lights, Westin bull bar, sliders, Smittybilt trail jack, Bushwacker flares
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes

Vehicle: 1994 Jeep Cherokee
Owner: Tim Smith, Orem, UT
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.50 TrXus M/Ts on 15-inch American Racing wheels
Suspension: 61⁄2-inch long arm with Rubicon Express coils and leaves
Drivetrain: NP231 with a slip-yoke eliminator, Dana 30 front with a Truetrac, Dana 44 rear with an Eaton E-Locker, chromoly axleshafts
Performance Mods: 4.0L, header, cold air intake
Other Doodads: Tomken bumpers and tire carrier, rock sliders, 32-gallon tank
Does everything work the way you want?: Works great
Anything you would change?: Dana 44 front with a selectable locker, 37s, beadlocks

Junkyard Jewel
Vehicle: 1983 Toyota Pickup
Owner: Jacob Adams, Laporte, CO
Tires & Wheels: 37-inch BFG Red Label Krawlers on 17-inch beadlocks
Suspension: Jeep Wagoneer leaf springs with 12-inch Fox air shocks up front, 63-inch Chevy rear spring with 12-inch Bilstein shocks outback
Drivetrain: Trail Gear doubler, Toyota front axle with a TRD E-locker, Longfield axles, and chromoly hub gears, Rock Assault rear housing with a V-6 third member, spool, and full-float kit, 5.29 gears
Performance Mods: 22RE, header, K&N air filter
Other Doodads: Narrowed body front and rear, suspension seats with 4-point harnesses, ’86 dash conversion, cutting brakes, custom exo-cage, gas tank relocation, 109-inch wheelbase
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Breaking my ring-and-pinion in front of Rick Péwé at the Chile Challenge. It was the first time that I had ever broken on the trail.
Does everything work the way you want?: Needs a better suspension
Anything you would change?: 4-link suspension with air shocks
Anything to add?: I bought this truck as a junker for 500 bucks and have done all of the mods myself. I love the magazine and have been reading since before I could drive.

Rocking Rover
Vehicle: 1994 Land Rover Discovery II
Owner: Sean McDonald
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50 MTRs on 15-inch steel wheels
Suspension: 3-inch Rovertym springs, trailing arms, and shock mounts, Safari Gard front 3-link and crossmember, Rover Tracks track bar
Drivetrain: LT230, Ashcroft axleshafts and drive flanges, ARB Air Lockers, 4.11 gears
Performance Mods: 3.9L V-8, custom exhaust
Other Doodads: Brembo brakes, Superwinch 9.0 winch, Rock Ware sliders, Rovertym bumpers, gas tank skid, ARB fridge/freeze, Power Tank, Corbeau seat (driver only)
Does everything work the way you want?: Everything works great!
Anything you would change?: Custom tube doors, dual batteries, new passenger seat

Zuk Delete
Vehicle: 1985 Suzuki SJ410
Owner: Walter Milton, Roseburg, OR
Tires & Wheels: 35x15.50 TSL SXs on 15-inch wheels
Suspension: Spring-over conversion that uses rear leaves up front, shackle conversion, add-a-leaves, and 3-inch lift shackles
Drivetrain: Toyota 5-speed and axles, 4.10 gears
Performance Mods: 22R, header, Flowmaster exhaust
Other Doodads: Custom cage, high steer
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes
Anything you would change?: Lockers, winch, onboard air, and 5.29 gears
Anything to add?: This was built on a budget of $3,100, which includes the purchase of the vehicle. Completing it took 9 months of wrenching on it after work. At this point it is more Toyota than Suzuki.

Camp & Go
Vehicle: 2000 Dodge Dakota
Owner: Mark Cavaliero and Martha Waterhouse, Eagle, CO
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.50 Goodyear DuraTracs on 15x8 Pro Comp wheels
Suspension: Stock
Drivetrain: Stock
Performance Mods: K&N air filter
Other Doodads: 3-inch body lift, Kennesaw Mountain front bumper, Mile Marker winch, custom rock sliders and rear bumper with tire carrier, Four Wheel Camper, Firestone rear airbags
Does everything work the way you want?: So far so good
Anything you would change?: More suspension lift and wheel travel, remove the body lift, stuff on 35s for a low lift/big tire combo
Anything to add?: We are the original owners of the truck and it’s been great. The camper is awesome and the Dakota surprisingly capable off-road. Hopefully more aftermarket suspension companies will move into the market. It would be great to see a solid-axle conversion kit or an affordable way to beef up the IFS similar to the way you guys did with the Ultimate F-150.

The Chief
Vehicle: 1978 Cherokee Chief Sport
Owner: Zac Gargasz, Columbia Falls, MT
Tires: 35s
Suspension: 4-inch with Rancho shocks
Drivetrain: TH400, Dana 44 axles, Detroit Lockers, 4.56 gears
Performance Mods: 360ci, Edelbrock intake and carburetor
Other Doodads: 3-inch body lift
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Getting yelled at by my 3-year-old daughter for getting stuck in the mud
Does everything work the way you want?: Works well most of the time
Anything you would change?: 37s

Mountain Blaze
Vehicle: 2000 Chevy S-10 Blazer
Owner: Mike Peterson, Colorado Springs, CO
Tires: 30x9.50 BFG A-Ts
Suspension: Custom 4-inch with Superlift components
Drivetrain: Stock
Performance Mods: 4.3L, K&N air intake
Other Doodads: Optima battery
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Peeling back the rear diff cover on a rock—in the flats of Kansas, of all places!
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes

Junior San
Vehicle: 1987 Nissan Pathfinder
Owner: Benny Guillen Jr., Las Cruces, NM
Tires & Wheels: 38.5x16 TSLs on 16.5x12 Pro Comp wheels
Suspension: Custom 12-inch via a solid-axle conversion
Drivetrain: 700R4, 241C, Dana 44 front with a mini-spool, Dana 60 rear with a Detroit Locker, 5.86 gears
Performance Mods: 305ci
Other Doodads: Smittybilt winch
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes

Open Country
Vehicle: 2005 Nissan Titan
Owner: John Carter
Tires & Wheels: 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts on 18-inch MB Gunner wheels
Suspension: 6-inch Pro Comp with King coilovers, Total Chaos upper control arms, PRG traction bars, Bilstein rear shocks
Drivetrain: Factory-equipped rear E-locker
Performance Mods: K&N intake with an AEM dry-flow filter, Bully Dog tuner, Flowmaster exhaust
Other Doodads: Road Armor front bumper, Warn 12K winch, RAAW custom sliders, Optima YellowTop battery
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes
Anything you would change?: Dana 60 axles front and rear, and 37s

Family Ford
Vehicle: 1992 Ford Explorer
Owner: Darren Sypriano, Fort Bragg, CA
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.50s on 15-inch wheels
Suspension: Solid-axle conversion using James Duff radius arms and coils, spring-over axle rear
Drivetrain: 5-speed manual, Dana 44 front from an Early Bronco
Performance Mods: 4.0L, K&N air filter, Hedman Hedders, DynoMax exhaust
Other Doodads: Crossover steering
Does everything work the way you want?: Works great and rides better than it did stock
Anything you would change?: Numerically higher differential gears and 35s
Anything to add?: The Explorer was originally my parents’ family car until I received it in 2005. Then all the modifications began!

Submission Information
Send us a picture of your ride if you’ve never done so. We keep a surplus of Readers’ Rides submissions, but only one submission per person, and we love all off-road vehicles so send in your entries whether your rig is stock or not. Make sure each digital image is at least 1,600 by 1,200 pixels (or two megapixels) and saved as a TIFF, EPS, or maximum-quality JPEG file. Write to: Readers’ Rides, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 Email to:

Vehicle (year, make, model)
Owner (name, city, state)
Tires & Wheels (size, make, model)
Suspension (lift, springs, shocks)
Drivetrain (tranny, transfer case, axles)
Performance (engine mods)
Other mods
Does it work the way you want?
Anything you would change?
Funniest Wheeling Incident
Anything to add?

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