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A Series of Fortunate Events: Ryan Maggy’s 1984 Chevy K20 on 40s

Posted in Features on March 18, 2019
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Photographers: Ken Brubaker

“My Dad warned me that this truck would never be a full rockcrawler—boy was he wrong!” The truck was an ’84 Chevy K20 with a 6.2L Detroit Diesel V-8, and it had spent its time hauling cattle around a ranch and transporting toys to and from the local dunes. Ryan Maggy’s plans for the truck involved more play than work; he wheeled hard on its 3/4-ton axles and 4-inch Pro Comp lift. Modifications began with flipped shackles and custom-built bumpers—and ended with a blown engine and a title transfer. Ryan’s heavy foot and the turbocharger wreaked havoc on the stock 6.2L, so he parted ways with the Chevy and sold it to a friend.

A series of fortunate events took place in that interim. First, Ryan’s friend replaced the blown diesel with a ZZ4 350ci V-8 crate engine. Second, Ryan began dabbling in Toyota rigs, but he had an epiphany and realized, as he told us, “I’m a fullsize kind of guy.” He bought back the truck and went to work, once again wheeling and building.

Ryan Maggy’s ’84 Chevy K20 rolls around on 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers, 17x9 Battle Born Wheels, and enough modifications to make rocks shudder in fear.

Looking at the truck, it’s hard to find a piece that wasn’t purpose-built for Ryan’s off-road needs. Tucked beneath an outdoor car canopy, he spent the better part of three years on custom items like the ’60s M101A1 military trailer that became the truck’s bed, the swinging bed-mounted tire carrier, the ’caged exterior, and more. The result of Ryan’s work is a truly unique Chevy that has survived the Rubicon, Fordyce, and Slick Rock Road trails, as well as the rocks of Johnson Valley, California. Ryan’s future plans for his Chevy include a four-linked frontend, deeper axle gears, and an additional seat—his first child (read: future off-roader) is on the way.

The original 6.2L diesel engine met its end during Ryan’s heavy-footed teenage years and has since been replaced by a ZZ4 350ci V-8 crate engine. However, 20 minutes into a shakedown run, the mill was silenced by a broken piston. Dan’s Machine Shop in Livermore, California, took care of the repairs and more, boring the cylinders 0.030 over, porting the heads, and adding roller rockers, custom pistons, a Crower cam, and a Canton Racing Products oil pan. On top is a Holley 1450 770-cfm carb and an MSD Pro-Billet Ready-To-Run distributor.
Ryan performed some under-the-hood custom work to mount the Griffin dual-core radiator, and a Chevrolet Performance Small Block serpentine belt to turn the alternator.
The V-8 passes off power to the TH400, rebuilt by Schuck’s Transmission & Auto Repair in Dublin, California. Transmission upgrades include new billet internals and a straight-cut First gear, along with a Hughes Performance 2,300 rpm stall converter and Hughes Performance full-manual reverse valvebody. The Griffin CXU-00001 transmission cooler was mounted well out of harm’s way in the Chevy’s bed.
The front Dana 60 CUCV axle was rebuilt with chromoly ’shafts from East Coast Gear Supply, new U-joints, and 35-spline Yukon Gear & Axle hubs. An Eaton Detroit Locker keeps both wheels turning while the DIY4X diff cover helps shield the 4.56 internals from trail damage. Aiming the truck is made simple with the PSC full hydraulic steering kit, which is cooled by a 24-inch double-pass heat sink and connected to the knuckles with a Chassis Unlimited Springless Steering Arm. Ryan’s custom-built skidplate keeps the bottom of the radiator safe from trail blows.
A Blazer donated its 52-inch leaf springs, which connect to the axle with U-bolts and plates from WFO Concepts. Ryan also added the EZ Inch kit, 6-inch shackles, and shackle mounts from DIY4X. The Bilstein 5125 shocks allow for 14 inches of travel, kept in check by the Trail-Gear limiting straps. Fox 3-inch bumpstops prevent harsh bottom-outs when the Chevy comes down hard.
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The rear axle flexes beneath the frame on 56-inch leaf springs, which are attached via DIY4X flipped shackles. To combat axlewrap, Ryan used a backward-mounted WFO Concepts 14-bolt Torque Arm. A Rod End Supply Heim joint joins the 2-inch, 0.250-inch-wall lowers and 1.5-inch, 0.250-inch-wall uppers to the rear bumper, exemplifying Ryan’s ingenuity. In order for the Bilstein 5125 shocks to use all 14 inches of travel while maintaining a low center of gravity, hoops were installed and the shocks were routed through the floor of the bed.

Getting power out to the Chevy 14-bolt rearend is a custom driveshaft, built by Scott at Colison Drivelines, fit with 1410-series U-joints, and made from 0.180-inch-wall tubing. A RuffStuff pinion guard helps the truck slide over rocks while the RuffStuff diff cover protects the set of 4.56 gears and Eaton Detroit Locker. For stopping power, Ryan employed East Coast Gear Supply’s disc brake conversion kit and ran brake lines from the fullsize gurus at Offroad Design. High and safe from damage is the 3.5-inch exhaust tube topped off with a Dynomax Race Bullet muffler.
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The Chevy’s bed is far from stock and far from typical. Ryan opted to swap out the dented and abused shrine to broken taillights with a bit of custom work—an M101A1 trailer. He mounted the bed 4 inches lower on the frame, making it easier to access the truck’s cargo area. He also shortened the bed by 9 inches to make room for his homebuilt tire carrier and rear bumper. The carrier was one of Ryan’s custom projects made from 1.75-inch, 0.120-inch-wall DOM tubing, beefy enough to hold the 40-inch spare tire. The bed is also home to the transmission cooler, 26-gallon JAZ fuel cell, toolbox, ice chest, fire extinguisher, and Hi-Lift jack. Max-Bilt taillights have also replaced the long line of damaged predecessors.

Ryan’s plan for the interior was to keep everything he needed within arm’s reach. Ryan took time to lay out a custom center console built from 1/8-inch-thick aluminum, where ample cupholders, the Art Carr/Winters shifter, and all three levers for the Trail Worthy Fab three-speed Hero transfer case reside. Gauges from Pro Comp and Auto Meter keep Ryan on top of his oil pressure, transmission temp, fuel level, and engine speed. In place of the deteriorating bench seats, Ryan added a pair of PRP Daily Driver seats and four-point safety harnesses.
One-off mounts made from 1.5-inch, 0.120-inch-wall DOM tubing connect the PRP seats to the factory mounting locations. Ammunition cans under both the seats keep valuables safe.
Though building the rollcage was a bit of a learning experience for Ryan, he used 1.75-inch, 0.120-inch-wall DOM tubing and managed to keep the cage as close to the body as possible, since the truck is plenty wide to begin with. Custom rock sliders tie smoothly into the exocage and the body lines for a clean look and extra protection.
A bumper built from 1.75-inch, 0.120-inch-wall tubing guards the front of the Chevy and houses a Warn M12000 winch. Four LED cube lights beneath the headlamps shed extra light for trail rides after dark.

At a Glance

Vehicle: ’84 Chevy K20
Owner: Ryan Maggy
Stomping grounds: Brentwood, California
Build time: Three years

Engine: ZZ4 Chevy 350ci V-8
Transmission: TH400, Art Carr/Winters shifter, Hughes Performance full-manual reverse valvebody
Transfer case: Trail Worthy Fab Hero 3-spd
Low range ratios: 2.0:1, 4.33:1
Crawl ratios: 22.6:1, 49.0:1
Front axle/differential: Chevy Dana 60, DIY4X diff cover, 4.56:1 gears/Eaton Detroit Locker
Rear axle/differential: Chevy 14-bolt, East Coast Gear Supply Disc Brake Conversion kit, RuffStuff diff cover, 4.56:1 gears/Eaton Detroit Locker

Front: 52-in leaf springs, DIY4X spring mounts, DIY4X EZ-Inch kit, DIY4X 6-in shackles, DIY4X shackle mounts, WFO Concepts U-bolts and plates, Bilstein 5125 14-in-travel shocks, Fox 3-in hydraulic bumpstops, Trail-Gear limit straps
Rear: 56-in leaf springs, DIY4X shackle flip kit, DIY4X shackle mounts, WFO Concepts 14-Bolt Torque Arm Kit, Bilstein 5125 14-in-travel shocks

Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x9 Battle Born Wheels Gatekeeper

Steering: PSC Motorsports double-ended hydraulic ram, Chassis Unlimited Springless Steering Arm
Armor: Custom-fabricated 1/4-in steel rear bumper, front tube bumper, rock sliders, and exocage
Cool stuff: Warn M12000 winch, LED light cubes, bed-mounted fire extinguisher, Hi-Lift jack, ice chest, toolbox, bed-mounted transmission cooler, 26-gal JAZ fuel cell, custom swinging tire carrier w/40-in fullsize spare

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