While tube buggies don’t roll off the assembly line like most vehicles, they all have one thing in common. Buggies are built for a specific purpose, whether it’s blasting through whoops in the desert or soaring down the drag strip.
Nate Schuit spent more than a decade running the hardest rockcrawling trails in the Southwest in Jeeps and Broncos, but they didn’t quite fit all of his requirements. He had upgraded the drivetrains with 1-ton components and learned to accept the wrinkled sheetmetal, but these vehicles were still not capable of conquering the terrain that Nate coveted. What’s more, the small vehicles did not provide enough room to fit his family of four on the trail.
“One of my favorite aspects of rockcrawling is that you can do it with the whole family,” Nate explains. “That isn’t really the case with a lot of motorsports.”
Armed with years of experience and the help of his family and friends, the CAD designer headed into the garage with a pair of Unimog portal axles and a few sticks of tubing. His creation did not come easy, or quickly, but in the end Nate had created a totally one-of-a-kind vehicle that met his family’s needs. And it is filled with creative touches from the rat rod, military, and racing worlds that make Nate’s buggy unique without requiring a second mortgage on the house.
2010 Schuit-built GravelMaker
Engine: Ford 5.0L V-8, EFI, BBK headers, Flowmaster exhaust
Transmission: C4 3-speed automatic with TCI 1,600-stall torque converter, pan, and manual valve body
Transfer case: Klune-V underdrive and NP205
Front Axle: Unimog 406 portal axle with 3.14 ring-and-pinion, 2.08 gear reduction in the hubs, and factory air lockers
Rear Axle: Unimog 406 portal axle with 3.14 ring-and-pinion, 2.08 gear reduction in the hubs, and factory air lockers
Springs & Such: Fox Shox 21⁄2-inch air shocks with triangulated 4-link (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 19.5/46-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claws on 20-inch steel rims with Great Lakes Offroad double beadlocks
Steering: PSC P-pump, POS cooler, and POS orbital valve
Other Stuff: Auto Meter gauges, Warn MODEL winch, color-matched cooler, backup camera, custom shifters, Cobra CB radio, LED lighting, ammo can storage