We just returned from the colossal 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, and out of the scores of 4x4s on display, there were a couple of rigs that smacked people right between the eyes. There was “THE LEGEND,” a Jeep Wrangler-based rig, and a Ram 3500 with a Jeep Wrangler ridin’ piggyback. Both were very unique, and they definitely had people talking.
Creating a rig that becomes the talk of the town at SEMA is not an easy thing to do because most often exhibitors and truck builders trot out their best ideas to show off, which results in a mind-blowing collection of 4x4s. Like many others, we wanted to know more about these two rigs, and we wondered what it would be like to drive them. To get an answer to those questions, we contacted the folks who built ’em and we asked. Here’s some of what they had to say.
Greg Higgs, Fab Fours CEO and founder, says that THE LEGEND was tested on the trail. “As for off road capability, THE LEGEND was fully vetted in Colorado on 44-inch Boggers hitting tough trails and fully articulating. On locked up 80 axles, where she sacrifices in articulation, she makes up for in sheer dimensions. The net 22-inch stretch and net 20-inch width enhancement augmented with the crazy ground clearance and low center of gravity all work together to keep the Jeep stable and capable of following any normally modified Jeep,” He goes on to say, “This Jeep will not outrace an Ultra 4, nor will it out-crawl a comp buggy, but it will hold its own against 99.5 percent of the vehicles on the trail—if you are willing to scratch it up, and we are.”
What’s it like to drive the Jeep? Greg says, “What do you expect when behind the wheel of something that is conservatively named THE LEGEND? You expect jaws to drop, people scrambling for cell phones to take pictures, crowds gathering.” If you’re wondering about how those “subtle” fenders affect driveability, he says, “You know the tires are out there, so, in a way, they are helpful like those front rods on semi-trucks that show them the corners. All in all, the visibility and maneuverability are not bad at all.” He does note that the red-tinted windows make it a little tough to drive at night.
You haven’t seen the last of THE LEGEND. Greg notes, “We intend to bring three LEGENDS to Moab for the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari and will document the performance to put the skeptics concerns to rest.”
Cris Payne of RTDesigns, owner of the ’14 Ram 3500 Mega Cab, says, “Well, the rack was built by my fabricators at SMP-Fabworks out of Burbank, California. They are the ones we went to with the crazy vision and ideas. They took the vision and made it exactly as planned. It’s hard to create something that depends on functionality and something that looks classy and sleek. OK, badass! Zero holes were drilled into the truck to secure the rack to the truck, which I consider a win. Fully functional ramps that tuck and mount in the bed fold out and are around 15 to 18-feet in length. The first approach angle is fairly steep so a pulley system was added to ensure the TMAX/Westin winch could do all the work.”
So what’s it like to drive this massive machine? Cris says, “Looks, looks, looks! That’s what happens any time this build goes anywhere. Out come the phones and video cameras when we load or unload the Jeep. Maybe it’s in hopes it fails, but we are certain it’s built properly to enable us to get the job done safely each time.” He goes on to note that he’s a crane operator by profession, so he’s used to the “uneasy feeling most get when driving something top heavy and taking turns.” He says that he was surprised when he first drove the Ram with the Jeep on top and the “Ram acted as if it wasn’t there weight-wise.” He does note, “You definitely have to watch your height restrictions and turn with caution, but for the most part, it’s safe and secure with very little issues driving.”
The Ram is Cummins powered and has a McGaughy’s suspension with Firestone Ride-Rite air bags.