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Readers' Rides - November 2013

1978 Chevy K 5 Blazer
Harry Wagner | Writer
Posted September 24, 2013
Photographers: Readers

Homegrown 4x4s

Running Strong
Vehicle: 1997 Dodge Ram 1500
Owner: Keith Custer, Lorain, OH
Tires & Wheels: 265/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler MTs on factory steel wheels
Suspension: 3-inch Top Gun Customz front coil spacer and rear block
Drivetrain: Stock 46RE automatic transmission, NP241 transfer case, Dana 60 front axle, Dana 70 rear axle
Performance Mods: Stock 5.2L V-8
Other Doodads: Onboard 750-watt inverter to run 1⁄3hp air compressor, LED lights
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Was a daily driver until my friends introduced me to Yankee Lake Truck Night
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes
Anything you would change?: More horsepower, aftermarket bumper and winch, rock sliders, lockers
Anything to add?: Still used as a truck for hauling and towing reliably at a moment’s notice, even with 203K on the clock

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Johnny Reb
Vehicle: 1978 K5 Blazer frame with ’43 Ford cab
Owner: Zack Combs, Donalds, SC
Tires & Wheels: Cut 38.5x11-15LT Super Swamper Boggers on white wagon wheels
Suspension: Stock with Rancho shocks
Drivetrain: Built TH400 transmission, NP208 transfer case, 10-bolt front axle, 12-bolt rear axle
Performance Mods: Stock 350ci V-8 with Holley 650 4-barrel
Other Doodads: Custom dog-eaten interior
Does everything work the way you want?: In the mud, yes
Anything you would change?: Bigger axles, lower gearing, bigger tires

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5.9 Is So Fine
Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Durango
Owner: Elias Gamez; Littleton, CO
Tires & Wheels: 32x11.5R15 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain KM2s on 15x8 black steel rims
Suspension: Custom 2-inch lift
Drivetrain: Completely stock with AWD
Performance Mods: 5.9L V-8
Other Doodads: Full underbody skidplating from the transmission to the gas tank
Does everything work the way you want?: Almost
Anything you would change?: Rear ARB Air Locker, 33-inch tires, and a snorkel

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CamperUCV
Vehicle: 1986 M1008 CUCV Camper
Owner: Marc Lesko, Jackson, NJ
Tires & Wheels: 285/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires on stock rims
Suspension: Stock military (rated at 11⁄4-ton)
Drivetrain: TH400 3-speed automatic, NP208 transfer case, Dana 60 front axle, Corporate 14-bolt rear axle with Detroit Locker
Performance Mods: 6.2L J Code Detroit Diesel
Other Doodads: Popup truck camper
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes, it even gets 16 mpg with the camper on the back
Anything you would change?: Install overdrive unit, front locker, add camo wrap to the camper
Anything to add?: I was inspired to build this camper because of your write-ups on the M1008 and off-road truck campers

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XJ in PA
Vehicle: 1996 Jeep Cherokee XJ
Owner: Chris Iozzi, Blue Bell, PA
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.5R15 Sport Kings on black steel wheels (or MTs, depending on terrain)
Suspension: 41⁄2-inch Tomken short arm front, mixed leaf pack in rear
Drivetrain: NP231 transfer case with Tom Wood’s driveshaft, Dana 30 with Yukon Spartan Locker, Chrysler 81⁄4 with Aussie Locker, 4.56 gears
Performance Mods: 4.0L with Thrush exhaust
Other Doodads: Protofab prerunner front bumper, Nate’s rear bumper and tire carrier, Olympic Top Hat roof rack, well-used rock rails, diff guards, and skidplates
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Every dent tells one of those stories where “I thought I could” but didn’t quite
Does everything work the way you want?: Works great on the trails of southeast Pennsylvania
Anything you would change?: The rear could use more flex
Anything to add?: I love supporting Rausch Creek and local wheeling spots

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More Cowbell
Vehicle: 1954 Willys M38A1
Owner: Martin Ward, Grass Valley, CA
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.5R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrains on chrome steel wheels
Suspension: Spring-over with National YJ leaf springs in front, Rubicon Express YJ leaf springs in rear
Drivetrain: NP435 transmission, Dana 20 transfer case with Dana 18 innards and Advance Adapters 3.15:1 gears, Dana 30 front axle with disc brakes, Dana 44 rear axle with Dutchman axleshafts, ARB Air Lockers front and rear
Performance Mods: 225 Buick Oddfire V-6
Other Doodads: Driveway paint job, Warn winch, York air compressor, ’76 grille to fit bigger radiator, Saginaw power steering, CB and ham radios, swinging pedal conversion
Funniest Wheeling Incident: We had just finished a night run and were airing up at about 3 a.m. My girlfriend was asleep in that passenger seat. I finished airing up, turned off the engine, and joined the group to socialize. I was distracted from the group when I heard calls of “Martin … Martin … Martin!” and saw the Jeep begin to roll down the road as the hydraulic line lock slowly released. A quick sprint and hand application of the brake prevented a major mishap, and I earned the bonehead cowbell award.
Does everything work the way you want?: It works very well and has done Rubicon, Fordyce, Hell Hole, Snake Lake, and more
Anything you would change?: Nope, it seems to have it all and there is nothing left to add

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Built Binder
Vehicle: 1970 International Havester Travelall
Owner: Jeff & Norma Ismail, Grass Valley, CA
Tires & Wheels: 315/70R17 Goodyear Duratrac on 17x8 black steel rims
Suspension: Crawler Proven Technology custom 4-inch lift, CPT sway bars, Firestone airbags, Bilstein shocks
Drivetrain: NV4500 transmission, NP205, GM Dana 60 front axle, GM 14-bolt rear axle with posi, 4.56 gears
Performance Mods: 392ci IH V-8, 4-barrel intake, Quadrajet carb, Stan’s headers, DUI distributor
Other Doodads: Original stock interior
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes, it is a great tow rig and family hauler

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Never Done
Vehicle: 2007 Nissan Xterra
Owner: Chris Casey, Fredericksburg, VA
Tires & Wheels: 285/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs on stock rims
Suspension: 6-inch lift with aftermarket Nissan Titan control arms, Sway-a-way RaceRunner 21⁄2-inch front coilovers, custom rear leaf springs, and Bilstein shocks
Drivetrain: Factory transmission and transfer case, Tom Wood’s custom rear driveshaft, chromoly front half-shafts, Nissan M226 electric locker retrofit into rear axle
Performance Mods: 4.0L V-6 with stainless steel exhaust
Other Doodads: Shrockworks front bumper, Heftyfabworks skidplates and rock sliders
Does everything work the way you want?: Yes
Anything you would change?: It will never be “done.” Current plans call for a winch and a rear bumper.

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Boosted Taco
Vehicle: 1997 Toyota Tacoma
Owner: Berry Medley, San Antonio, TX Tires & Wheels: 33x12.5R15 Super Swamper Thornbirds on 15x10 chrome-plated wagon wheels
Suspension: 3-inch Texas Suicide spacer lift, 3-inch Performance Accessories body lift
Drivetrain: R150F manual transmission with TRD clutch, stock axles with welded rear spider gears
Performance Mods: 3.4L V-6 with TRD supercharger, Walbro fuel pump, and Split Second piggyback ECU
Other Doodads: 1994 Celica bucket seats, custom hand throttle, in-cab rollcage, custom rock sliders
Funniest Wheeling Incident: I stalled my engine while climbing a steep granite rock face, and my e-brake was poorly adjusted and would not hold. I had to have five people anchor the truck with a towstrap while I popped the clutch so I would not tumble over backwards down the grade.
Does everything work the way you want?: For now
Anything you would change?: I am already storing up parts to do a solid axle conversion with a Dana 44

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1-Ton JK
Vehicle: 2008 Jeep JK Unlimited Rubicon Owner: Mike McBride, Lafayette, LA Tires & Wheels: 14/42-17LT Super Swamper Iroks on 17x9 Trailready beadlocks
Suspension: Heavily modified Rubicon Express 41⁄2-inch long-arm Drivetrain: Stock automatic transmission, NP241 Rocktrac transfer case, high-pinion Dana 60 front with spool, Yukon hubs, Reid Racing knuckles, 35-spline axleshafts, 14-bolt rear with Grizzly Locker, Ruff Stuff cover, and Ruff Stuff disc brake brackets, 5.38 gears
Performance Mods: 3.8L V-6 Other Doodads: Ruff Stuff crossover steering with 7⁄8-inch rod ends, Redneck ram hydro assist, JCR skidplates, CO2 tank, Evo Mfg. corners, T Maxx 9500 winch
Funniest Wheeling Incident: Destroying the factory Rubicon axles the first trip out
Does everything work the way you want?: Getting there
Anything to add?: Couldn’t have built it without the help of Seth Menard

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Submission Information
Send us a picture of your ride if you’ve never done so. We keep a surplus of Readers’ Rides submissions, but only one submission per person, and we love all off-road vehicles so send in your entries whether your rig is stock or not. Make sure each digital image is at least 1,600 by 1,200 pixels (or two megapixels) and saved as a TIFF, EPS, or maximum-quality JPEG file. Write to: Readers’ Rides, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 Email to: readersrides@4wheeloffroad.com

Vehicle (year, make, model)
Owner (name, city, state)
Tires & Wheels (size, make, model)
Suspension (lift, springs, shocks)
Drivetrain (tranny, transfer case, axles)
Performance (engine mods)
Other mods
Does it work the way you want?
Anything you would change?
Funniest Wheeling Incident
Anything to add?

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