Check Out The Body On That One!
While the Hummer vehicles from AMG are certainly eye-catching, there's still that price-tag issue that keeps many a potential buyer from obtaining one. But you may be closer than you think to affording what looks like a Hummer.
We tracked down four companies that offer Hummer-look-alike rebody kits that can be mated to GM fullsize trucks and Suburban chassis and, in some cases, Ford, Dodge, and even Cadillac applications. There's even one company that offers plans so you can build your own chassis. The kits range from two-door fiberglass models to steel tube and sheetmetal constructions that, to the untrained eye, could easily be mistaken for the real thing.
All of the kits are offered at a cost significantly lower than that of a Hummer. Some of the companies have turnkey models available, yet even those that don't offer the kits preassembled say the assembly can be easily completed by the buyer or by a competent off-road shop.
Whether you've been yearning for a Hummer in your price range or you just want to give a new look to your aging or damaged Suburban or truck, rebody kits are a creative approach to doing so.
Urban Manufacturing Inc.
The Urban Gorilla from Urban Manufacturing can be used with 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton GM, Dodge, and Ford truck chassis. The body tub is constructed of 14-gauge steel with a fully MIG-welded rectangular tube subframe. Extra attention is given to high-stress areas with additional gussets and supports, and the body is acid-etched before being primed with a two-part epoxy application.
The basic body kit starts at $4,995 and comes with fiberglass rear quarter-panels, a fixed windshield frame with tempered safety glass installed, a fixed B pillar, a fitted tailgate, heater and defroster ducts, and an installed dash. The kits are available in two-door models to fit Blazers, Jimmys, Broncos, and Ramchargers, and in four-door models to fit fullsize domestic trucks and Suburbans. Urban Manufacturing also has the items necessary for the conversion, including the body-mounting kit, a fiberglass tilt front-end and front-end-mounting kit, an engine-relocation kit (the engine is moved back slightly to sit just behind the front axle), a fuel-tank kit, and a radiator-mounting kit. Optional equipment is available to satisfy the needs of all other interior, exterior, and mechanical aspects, although the kit is designed to work with much of the OE hardware from the donor vehicle.
Urban Manufacturing has worked with a number of shops to establish a dealer network for the Urban Gorilla. Dealers are an excellent source for kits, components, and donor vehicles in addition to providing installation service and technical support.
The Endeavor SB400 and SB4x400 from Forever Off-Road are unique in their own respects when compared to the other rebody kits in that neither of them is actually a rebody kit. The Endeavor vehicles are ground-up kit cars that use components from donor vehicles but also rely on the purchaser/builder to fabricate his or her own body pieces and frame sections. Forever Off-Road offers a set of plans that is designed to lead home builders through the step-by-step process of creating their own vehicles from scratch.
The cost of building an Endeavor vehicle depends chiefly on what type of donor vehicle you start with. The company suggests using particular models of the GM line of K-frame cars such as the '68-'78 Cadillac Eldorado or Oldsmobile Toranado, although it's said that actual choices of donor vehicles are endless. With a good donor vehicle and all of the materials needed, the Endeavor company designed and built its prototype for less than $7,500 using borrowed garage space, basic handtools, and a MIG welder. The company suggests that you expect at least 550 hours of labor time to complete the SB400 model and add another 200-plus hours for the SB4x400 model. It's also possible to use the plans around an existing frame, yet many of the measurements outlined in the Endeavor plans would need to be scaled down, as the overall size of the finished vehicle is quite larger than that of most existing frames.