July 20th is unofficially Ugly Truck Day and we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show you some of our slightly unappealing off-road projects. They might be eyesores to the untrained eye but the reality is we still think these hunks of metal have more character than you can shake a stick at. Check out all the awesome jalopies within our own stable as well as those of our sister off-road publications. You can decide which one's the coolest but either way, we're all going to keep on trucking in our rusty old rigs! So don't forget to mark your calender and wheel your unsightly truck tomorrow in honor of Ugly Truck Day!
Kevin Blumer – Assistant Editor, 4-Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine
The Family FE Dentside
My grandfather, Ernie Blumer, bought this 1973 Ford F-100 4x4 brand new from Beley & Johnson Ford in Harlowton, Montana. At the time, Harlowton was a thriving small town along the tracks of the Milwaukee Road railroad. "Grandad" Blumer worked for the Milwaukee Road as an engineer and drove the F-100 on his days off. The truck led a rugged life, hauling everything from firewood and fishing poles to golf carts and hay bales to freshly-gutted deer after a successful day's hunt.
The F-100 has languished a bit and daylight now shows through the rusty floorboards in a couple spots, and it's about impossible to find a body panel that's not faded, dented, or both. There are grand plans for Grandad's truck hopefully in the near future.
Vehicle: 1973 Ford F-100 4x4 longbed
Owner: Kevin Blumer
Chassis: stock, but with welded-on steering box adapter plate
Engine: FE series 360 big block. Edelbrock intake manifold, carburetor, water pump, and valve covers.
Drivetrain: C-6 automatic, NP205 transfer case, 9-inch rearend, Dana 44 high-pinion frontend. Suspension: Standard-issue radius arm/ coil spring front, leaf sprung rear. Stock suspension, stock height.
Steering: Swapped-in ’79 F-150 steering box, custom-spliced steering linkage to mimic the ’79 configuration. The ’79 tie rod did not fit the ’73 steering knuckles, hence the spliced linkage.
Brakes: Awful. Four-wheel non-power drums.
Tires/wheels: Mickey Thompson Baja Claw 285/75R16, Mickey Thompson Classic Lock 16x8
Interior: Rusting floorboards, bench seat that’s seen better days.
Other Parts: Pertronix-modified distributor to get rid of the stock points and condenser.
Funniest Wheeling Story: This is the truck that taught me never to open a hot radiator. Ouch!
Favorite Off-Road Areas: Gorman, Anza-Borrego, Mojave National Preserve, Inyo/White Mountains, Big Bear, Johnson Valley
Pete Trasborg – Associate Editor, Jp Magazine
I built it because it is a 5/4 -Ton convertible jeep pickup. The reason it's called Moses is because the brakes failed coming out of the garage on an inclined driveway - all the little jeeps scattered like the parting of the red sea!
Vehicle: 1967 Kaiser Jeep M-715 aka Moses
Owner: Pete Trasborg
Chassis: 67 M-715
Engine: 366ci Tall-Deck Big Block (Chevy)
Drivetrain: Spicer 3053A, NP205, Dana 60 (front), Dana 70HD (rear)
Steering: PSC big box and pump with Dynatrac tie rod and drag link
Brakes: Ford Super Duty dual piston disc (front and rear)
Tires/wheels: 37x12.50R16.5 Goodyear MT on 12-bolt HMMWV wheels
Interior: S10 buckets on ammo can bases, lots of Herculiner, Dynamat, and OD paint
Other Parts: Vanco Hydroboost, home-built headers, dual batteries
Funniest Wheeling Story: Well not wheeling, but driving it to and from Moab with no top, no heater, through snowstorms, rain storms, and more.
Favorite Off-Road Area: Moab, UT
Kevin McNulty – Editor-In-Chief, Mud Life Magazine
The Blurpl Grand
The ZJ was a cool build because it was a cheap buy. The 5.2-liter engine offered plenty of power as well as lots of available parts for the Grand. The key was to build a daily driver/adventure Jeep with a suspension that was safe, comfortable, reliable, and controllable at high speed. I didn't want or need a super-slinky rig with 20 inches of articulation capable of crawling over small mountains.
I bought the Jeep from a nice little old lady (no, seriously!) who only drove it to her cabin in the mountains. It was the sunset when I bought it but there was still light out. The Jeep looked great, no dents and it was a nice blue. I drove it home and put it in the driveway. I woke the next morning, walked outside to admire it and to my horror, in the bright morning sunlight I found that it was really fricken purple! Not the eggplant purple Chrysler used, but the blue pure, bad enough.
After I kind of got over it I started cleaning it, after a few minutes of cleaning I found myself hunched over in the bushes barfing after removing what seemed like a 1/4-pound of bloody boogers off the side of the driver’s seat. There was just something about a little old lady’s boogers that got to me!
Vehicle: 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ
Owner: Formerly owned by Kevin Mcnulty
Chassis: T&J Performance Center rock sliders/chassis stiffener
Engine: 5.2-liter Magnum V8
Drivetrain: JK Rubicon Dana 44 axles front and rear, Tom Woods Driveshafts
Suspension: Rubicon Express Long Arm Suspension, JKS bump stops in front, Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks in front, Bilstein shocks in rear
Tires/wheels: 265/70R17 Toyo Open Country Mud Terrains mounted on 17x8.5-inch AEV alloy beadlock wheels.
Interior: Boston Acoustics sound system
Other Parts: ARB front bumper, Warn 9.5 winch, Hanson rear bumper
Funniest Wheeling Story: No funny wheeling stories but above description should suffice
Favorite Off-Road Area: Black Bear Pass, Engineer Pass, and Holly Cross in Colorado. Drummond Island Upper Michigan, Hammer Trails, forest service trails Montana, Mohawk Trail Massachusetts (closed), Moab.
Agustin Jimenez – Associate Online Editor
The Po’ Boy Prerunner
I had never owned a GM product before, but I was itching to get my hands on my own GM truck to build into a go-fast budget wheeler. I scoured the classifieds for a worthy candidate (cheap running truck) to build. My plan was to go with a ‘73-to-‘87 Chevy 3/4-ton 2WD pick up for affordability and reliability. Of course that all changed when I spotted this clean, solid body ’71 GMC 3/4-ton pickup for $1,000!
The truck had been sitting for at least a year in the Southern California high desert just waiting to get built into an awesome truck. I’d always liked that body style ever since I saw the black C-10 in Dazed and Confused trying to blow the doors off a Super Sport Chevelle. And for a thousand bucks, I was more than happy to work with this cooler classic. It had very little rust, was already primered, and was actually drivable when I arrived for an initial inspection. A deal was struck with the owner and I returned the next day to pick up my new to me prerunner project truck.
Vehicle: 1971 GMC C25 pickup
Owner: Agustin Jimenez
Chassis: Stock ¾-Ton
Engine: 350 c.i. Chevy V8
Drivetrain: TH350 with a Trans Go shift kit, Full Float Dana 60 rear differential with a Lincoln locker, 4.11 gears
Suspension: Chassis Tech bolt in 3-inch wider per side long travel front suspension, Shackle flip in the rear, Rancho RS7000 shocks
Steering: Stock ¾-Ton steering with steering link extenders
Brakes: Stock ¾-Ton brakes
Tires/wheels: 315/75R16 Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ radial tires mounted on 16x8 Mickey Thompson Classic Lock II aluminum wheels
Interior: Grant steering wheel with an awesome yellow racing strip at the 12 o’clock position, PRP suspension seats
Other Parts: Edelbrock air cleaner, new belts and hoses, B&M transmission cooler, really old 32 gallon fuel cell
Funniest Wheeling Story: Tried to soften up the ride from the stiff front springs by hitting a deep ditch down the street at speed. It bounced the truck up in the air fairly hard and when it landed the engine stalled and the column shifter broke.
Favorite Off-Road Area: Pismo Dunes, Moab, Ocotillo Wells, Mojave Road and Baja!
Jerrod Jones – Editor-In-Chief, Off-Road Magazine
Jerrod Jones found the Lawg somewhere near Corona, and for $1,300 the '75 Dodge W200 was inspected in the dark with a flashlight, purchased, and driven home.
Jerrod added an air filter, did an oil change, and called it quits. A few months went by until Jerrod needed to pay his mortgage. The Lawg was sold to David Kennedy for the original price of $1,300. Dave's Bronco was no longer Cheap Truck Challenge-legal and the Lawg was close to ready. Under Dave's ownership, the Lawg gradually started to have fuel delivery problems. It got to a point that the Lawg would not make it past a certain stop sign down the street before it would have to be towed back home. So the Lawg was sold back to Jerrod for the original $1,300, problems and all.
Fast forwarding to the weekend of Tierra Del Sol, the Lawg had not been touched, Dave had sold the Lawg to Jerrod and didn't have a ride, but Jerrod hadn't paid Dave yet, so maybe he was the one who didn't have a ride.... Besides feeling like a two-dollar hooker that was passed back and forth, the Lawg still had fuel-delivery issues, so Dave and Jerrod spent the next day and a half replacing the fuel pump, then a fuel hose, a fuel filter, and even removed the carb to take a look. It was finally figured out that the steel fuel line along the frame rail was clogged. We were out of time and there was only one thing to do. We can't believe we're even telling you this, but we actually ran aluminum fuel line from the fuel tank, down the side of the cab, under the hood, and into the fuel pump. The passenger door had stopped opening the night before so that custom body molding (if anybody asked) down the side and along the door was no big deal either. But this is in no way a good idea or solution if you have similar issues. Save for some exhaust fumes coming through the holes in the floorboards, it was a mighty fine ride out to Tierra Del Sol.
Vehicle: 1975 Dodge W200
Owner: Formerly owned by Jerrod Jones, who sold it to David Kennedy, who then sold it back to Jerrod
Engine: 440 c.i. big block V8
Drivetrain: 727 Torqueflite automatic, NP203 T-case, Dana 44 front, Dana 60 rear
Tires/wheels: 35-inch tires
Interior: Stock and pretty well worn but surprisingly had working air conditioning
Other Parts: Aluminum fuel line routed on the passenger side of the truck
Funniest Wheeling Story: We think this is pretty well covered above
Favorite Off-Road Area: Pismo Sand Dunes!
John Cappa – Editor-In-Chief, Four Wheeler Magazine
Project Panel Hack
It all started when Alan Huber, 4 Wheel & Off-Road's art director, decided to unload his Panel Jeep. He tried to sell it for nearly a year and a half. Eventually the entry fee came down to $800. At that point I couldn't resist the Chevy-powered 4x4. It came with all kinds of extra parts too. I wheeled it with the pathetic 283 V-8 for a while, but I quickly figured out the tires, engine and axles weren't up for any real fun. So the work began.
Vehicle: 1966 Jeep Panel Wagon
Owner: Formerly owned by John Cappa
Engine: 350-horsepower Ram Jet 350 c.i. Chevy V8
Drivetrain: TH350 automatic with a shift kit, Dana 300 T-case with 32-spline output with twin stick shifters, Dana 44 front differential with an Ox Locker and 1½-inch .120 wall axle truss , 9-Inch rear differential with a Strange aluminum third member, aluminum pinion support, chromoly spool, 31-spline Superior axle shafts, 5.14 gears
Suspension: Rancho 3-inch lift springs in front, stock rear leaves with add-a-leaf in rear and shackle flip
Steering: 1½-inch .188 wall DOM tie rod with ¾-inch tie rod ends, 1 1/8-inch drag link, Dynatrac high-steer arm with high-misalignment 5/8-inch rod ends, pitman arm and power-steering box are from a late-70’s Camaro
Tires/wheels: 38x15.5R15 Dick Cepek FC Kevlar tires mounted on 15x10-inch American Racing 0589 wheels with Champion bead locks
Interior: Beard suspension seats
Other Parts: 22 gallon fuel cell,
Funniest Wheeling Story: On a particularly abusive Glamis, California, dune trip, the front suspension and Dana 44 axle succumbed to a witch's eye at speed. The housing and springs were bent, and there was a crack in the center casting. I welded it up as best I could and installed a 1 ½-inch 0.120-wall chromoly axle truss from knuckle to knuckle to try and keep the axle in one piece. It worked, but the housing was bent enough that it was difficult to get the axle shafts out after. The front springs and bumpstops were wasted.
Favorite Off-Road Area: Glamis!
Christian Hazel - Editor-In-Chief, Jp Magazine
The J4000 Farm Truck
After selling my Dodge Megacab with a Cummins diesel I needed a pickup to haul stuff and tow projects. I looked at and passed by several candidates with ¾-ton disc brakes and bigger engines, but when this old-man-owned ’72 J4000 came up I ‘bout fell in love with the Avocado Mist green paint and completely stock interior. I had to do some wiring work thanks to packrats that had chewed some wires in half, and needed to put on new tires and fuel lines, but otherwise it’s just as the old man who owned it before me used it. The drum brakes are laughable with a trailer in tow and the factory spring bushings must be completely worn because it’s kinda scary and not so stable with any tongue weight on it. I’ve had a general rule not to make my tow rig a project Jeep, but it looks like this time I’ll be ignoring that and adding injection, more power, a five-speed manual, and better springs, shocks, and modern axles. Until then, it’s the perfect farm truck for hauling Jeep parts or making runs to the dump.
Vehicle: 1972 Jeep J4000 pickup
Owner: Christian Hazel
Engine: Stock AMC 360 two-barrel
Drivetrain: Stock TH400 auto, Stock Dana 20 T-case, stock Dana 44 front and rear axles with open diffs and 4.10 gears.
Suspension: Stock, sagged leaf springs and factory shocks
Steering: Stock Saginaw power
Brakes: Stock 11-inch power-assist drums on each corner
Tires/wheels: 31.10.50%15 Toyo Open Country MT on 15x8 Pro Comp white steelies
Interior: Stock bench seat, AM radio
Other Parts: Hay bale farm racks
Funniest Wheeling Story: I don’t wheel it much but I used it to tow my ’71 CJ-6 Monster Jeep project and it was a white-knuckle ride the whole time. It needs a makeover.
Favorite Off-Road Area: The truck’s? At about 8 mpg that’d be the gas station. That’s considered off-road, right?
My buddy’s wife is a real estate agent and was selling a house for an older retired couple who was moving due to medical reasons. When she spotted this old Willys he had used to putt around his dozens-of-acres property in So Cal she called me and I came down with a stack of hundred dollar bills to cart it away. The Jeep hadn’t been on the road since the late ‘70s and was/is in need of some major repairs. The body is kinda hammered from living a life off the beaten path but the floors are solid and most of the stock drivetrain components are there and in good nick. I’m not one to paint any vehicle but I’m not so sure I can take the globbed-on white spray job somebody gave it in the past, so I may wind up blasting it back to its proper OD green hue at some point down the road, but not before I do some upgrades with retro-modern parts and get some proper seating in it for me and my family.
Vehicle: 1954 Willys M-170 army ambulance
Owner: Christian Hazel
Engine: Stock F-head four-cylinder
Drivetrain: Stock T-90 three-speed manual, stock Spicer 18 T-case, stock Dana 25 front and Dana 44 rear axles with 5.38 gears and open diffs.
Suspension: Stock leaf springs and factory shocks
Steering: Stock Ross Cam & Lever (rebuilt)
Brakes: Stock, scary, ineffective 9-inch drums front and rear
Tires/wheels: Dry-rotted 30-inch 40-year-old Norseman on early 15x7 CJ Renegade I wheels
Interior: Single seat out of an ‘80s Dodge
Other Parts: Omix pintle hitch and a 12-volt alternator/distributor conversion, Optima battery. Otherwise it’s all stock.
Funniest Wheeling Story: I bought it from an old guy who used it on his farm for the last 40 years. My trailer was occupied so I flat-towed it home. Between the old Norseman tires and four completely fragged tie-rods in the steering linkage it got death wobble so badly I thought the Jeep would flip upside down while being towed. I had to make the entire trip from the seller’s house to my house at 20 mph. Thankfully this was the one Jeep I purchased in the same town I live in.
Favorite Off-Road Area: So far it’s only been on side roads near my house. It’s still a work in progress.
I bought this from a little town in the high desert where it had sat since the late ‘70s. I dragged it home and tore it completely apart for a frame-off build. When I finished it back ’02 and started taking it to events and on trail rides the one question I overwhelmingly received was “when are you gonna paint it.” I guess I was just a little ahead of the rat rod curve. Nowadays with a DOHC spaceship engine under the hood and trick components throughout I don’t really get those questions anymore, but I’d never consider getting rid of the faded orange patina. That’d be a crime.
Vehicle: 1953 DJ-3A
Owner: Christian Hazel
Chassis: Factory frame, fully boxed with 1/8-inch steel; Wrangler 2.5-inch spring perches.
Engine: 3.5L DOHC Olds “Shortstar” LX5
Drivetrain: SM420 four-speed tranny; Dana 300 T-case; Currie front and rear 9-inch axles with 5.38 gears. Front Detroit Locker in a Strange centersection and rear 35-spline spool in a True Hi9 centersection.
Suspension: Stock YJ rear springs (front), Rubicon Express 4.5-inch YJ springs (rear); Bilstein 5160 shocks
Steering: Saginaw power
Brakes: Wilwood disc (front); GM ½-ton disc (rear)
Tires/wheels: 35x13.50R15 BFG Krawler T/A KX on 15x10 American Racing wheels with OMF beadlocks
Interior: Mastercraft seats, Colorado Customs billet steering wheel, working fuel gauge.
Other Parts: Onboard welder, Ramsey Platinum 9500 winch, spares & tools
Funniest Wheeling Story: I drove it on a corporate run our company did on Upper Helldorado in Moab right behind some company’s Vice President. He was driving his company’s buggy on 40- or 42-inch tires and couldn’t drive worth a lick. I spent the whole day trying to negotiate 40-inch holes he had dug for me in key parts of the trail.
Favorite Off-Road Area: Moab and/or Johnson Valley
This is my second former Border Patrol ’71 CJ-6. Both have had the minty-green gov-spec paintjob that’s bled trough with rust. If you know anything about how the Border Patrol treats its vehicles you’d never buy one. They’re insanely hard on things. Still, the frame on this one wasn’t bent and aside from years of rat turds inside the body isn’t in bad shape. There’s no holes in the floor or through-rot in the rockers. The front factory Dana 27 axle was a little bent, so while looking for replacements I got the stupid idea to put Rockwells under it. That led to trying to fit dually NDT tires on it front and back. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the dual duallies or go 46- or 54-inch Mickeys under it, but either way it’s not gonna get a paint job or any body work. Body by mother nature and Kaiser is good enough for me.
Vehicle: 1971 Kaiser CJ-6
Owner: Christian Hazel
Engine: Stock Buick 225 with two-barrel carb
Drivetrain: (now) stock T-14 three-speed manual and Spicer 18 with Saturn Overdrive, Rockwell 2.5 ton axles front and rear with 6.72 gears. (coming soon) SM420 transmission swap for a better crawl ratio with the planned 46- or 54-inch tires I wanna run.
Suspension: Stock leaf springs
Steering: Stock Ross Cam & Lever but will be getting Saginaw power conversion
Brakes: Stock Rockwell drums for now but will be installing pinion-mounted disc brakes
Tires/wheels: Stock military M35A1 for now. Will run either 46- or 54-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC tires.
Interior: Factory reupholstered front seats, custom cage built who-knows-how-long ago by previous owner.
Other Parts: Dealer-optioned Meyer’s steel hard top and about 5 pounds of rat turds.
Funniest Wheeling Story: Before I put the Rockwells under it I hotwired it just to move it around and load it on the trailer. It had no exhaust manifolds and the front tire bled down from 30 psi to 0 psi in about 2 minutes, so I had to move it quickly. It sounds like a radial engine in an old ‘40s fighter plane, so I’ll probably run zoomie headers straight up out of the hood when I get it finished.
Favorite Off-Road Area: N/A so far. Still a work in progress.
Jeremy Cook – Online Editor
My dad and I did some horse trading for it. We installed new Bestop full soft top and it immediately passed smog soon after. It now needs a new clutch to fully hold all the power of the 151 c.i. Hurricane inline-4 but we haven’t touched it since then.
Vehicle: 1980 Jeep CJ5
Owner: Jeremy Cook
Engine: 151 c.i. Hurricane Inline-4
Drivetrain: Bord Warner SR4 4-speed manual, Dana 300 T-case, Dana 30 front differential, AMC 20 rear differential
Suspension: Stock spring under setup
Tires/wheels: 31x10.5R15 BFGoodrich All Terrains mounted on 15-inch rattle canned wagon wheels
Interior: Stock, chopped roll bar, wet jute insulation everywhere,
Other Parts: Bestop soft top, Bestop half-doors with zip out door tops, future plans call for a mild but clean build, and keeping it powered by the mighty Hurricane four cylinder!
Funniest Wheeling Story: It passed the sniffer test with flying colors
Favorite Off-Road Areas: So far, we have wheeled it onto a trailer in Riverside, and wheeled it onto the side of the house! Definitely not my favorite place to wheel it!