If you’re not following us online at facebook.com/MyMudLife or instagram.com/MudLifeMag, you are truly missing out. We have one of the most interactive communities on the internet. When we posted a teaser picture of this crazy-ass van, we nearly broke the World Wide Web. One single picture of this huge 1993 Chevy 3500 Van has been viewed by over a million people on our Facebook page alone. We watched this single image get shared and posted on some of the most popular spots online, giving it superstar status nearly overnight. Sure, the smoking-hot mud girls probably had a lot to do with it, but either way it spread like wildfire.
So what do we say to anyone who thinks the van craze is long gone? Take a ride in this mega mudder and get a feel for the new breed of van builder.
Ralph and Liza King, from Naples, Florida, just so happen to be those builders. Their love of spending time outdoors with friends and family was their motivation. Hunting, camping, and off-roading are their activities on any available weekend. Nights are often spent around the bonfire drinking cold beers with the adults and making s’mores with the kids. That just about sums up the picture-perfect Southern life in our books, aside from one very import detail: the mega truck! Well, mega 1993 Chevy 3500 van in this case.
Working once or twice a week over a span of nine months is how long it took for the Kings to complete this rig. They say a little over 30 grand has been invested into this unique 1993 Chevy 3500 van, and it has already paid off in the memories they’ve made.
In order to build this mud machine, they had to design and fabricate a completely cradled subframe that the 1993 Chevy 3500 van body could be bolted to. This structure is one of the most important parts of the mega-truck puzzle. Patience is a virtue. Ralph did all the chassis work himself using a dual-triangulated four-link setup with 1¼-inch Heim joints. Fabtech coils and Edelbrock reservoir shocks keep the ride smooth as silk through the nasty Florida muck. The 2½-ton Rockwell axles are all beefed up with a locker in the front, a spool in the rear, 6.72 gears, and locking Selectro hubs from Chuck’s Trucks. Front and rear pinion brakes, using the factory-installed Chevy master cylinder, can bring the van to a stop thanks to a custom installed brake line lock. Opie LaBarbera, from Chop Fab in Naples, built and shipped the one-off 30x16 wheels before Ralph slapped on 16.9x30 Goodyear DuraTorque R1 tires. This impressive setup is controlled by a NP200 transfer case with a 4:1 ratio and a built Turbo 400 transmission thanks to Mechanic Mike and Transmission Rob.
You may be reading this article thinking, “what kind of motor does it take to move this monster?’ A ’70s Chevy big-block V-8 engine with a displacement of 496 ci, plus every bolt-on upgrade imaginable is the answer. Brodix heads, a Holley Performance carburetor, MSD ignition, Weisco pistons, and a Lunati crank are just a few of the mods Ralph did himself. This 14:1-compression powerplant needed all new custom motor mounts and wiring, but they got it done, and it sounds incredible when it’s 10 feet from your face.
A few final additions from Summit Racing Equipment needed to be ordered, including an aluminum fuel cell and racing seats, but aside from a fresh paint job, this rig was ready to hit the mud. David Mercado in Naples sprayed the entire van PPG Black. The crew from Get-N-After-It Apparel added the graphics.
Ralph and Liza thank everyone who stayed countless nights getting the van ready for Redneck Yacht Club and other great events. There are a few more things they want to add, like a Cyclone quick-change gearbox and some Ouverson axles, but for now it’s time to hit the pits!
1993 Chevy 3500 Van
Owner: Ralph and Liza King, Naples, Fla.
Engine: 496ci Chevy big-block V-8
Transmission: Turbo 400 with B&M shift kit, TCI bellhousing, TCI 500 torque converter
Transfer Case: NP200 military case
Suspension: Triangulated 4-link with Fabtech coil springs
Axles: 2½-ton Rockwell military
Shocks: Edelbrock reservoir shocks
Wheels: Chop Fab 30x16
Tires: 16.9x30 Goodyear DuraTorque R1 tires