Our 5 Favorite Things From The 2015 Off-Road Expo!Posted in Off Road Expo: 2015 on October 8, 2015
The 2015 Off-Road Expo was packed with some of the coolest rigs and products designed to tackle the toughest terrain. We spent hours walking the show and checking out the unique vehicles and the latest products before coming up with our favorites. After seeing so awesome stuff our internal debate was fierce but we were eventually able to come up with what we thought was the best thing at the 2015 Off-Road Expo.
TBM JK Brake Upgrade
Typically, the axles, gears, and steering system are beefed up after a suspension lift system is installed to handle the larger and heavier wheels and tires that are commonly bolted up to a new Jeep. Then come the engine mods or trans upgrades to create and handle more power to turn those big tires and move the now heavier Jeep. Even interior creature comforts seem to come before the owner thinks of upgrading the brake system. But all it takes is one good scare, when it seems like that Jeep just isn’t going to stop in time, to get their attention. A brake upgrade should go hand-in-hand with axle, suspension, steering, and wheel and tire mods. And the new disc upgrade system for Jeep JK Wranglers from The Brake Man (TBM) offers not only larger vented rotors front and rear, but larger calipers that can hold larger brake pads. Larger rotors alone won’t do the trick. In order to get greater stopping power the pads need to be larger too in order to offer more contact area on the rotor, which gives the system a greater swept area. The new JK brake upgrade kit from TBM also includes replacement steel braided hoses so you can ditch the rubber hoses from the factory.
Stuart Bourdon, Editor JP
My favorite vehicle of Off Road Expo has to be the oldest of the bunch, and certainly the most historic. One of the first batch of standardized Willys jeep models, the MB, was built just after the US entered WWII, as this one shows a Date of Delivery Of December 19, 1941. At first I thought the DOD was January (1) but upon closer inspection of the data plate reveals December (12). This true survivor has been in the same extended family for about 50 years, and we ran into it at the Competitive Metals booth where Mark Clyde told us the story “ It had been sitting in the backyard field for years, and the tires had all gone flat. When we went to move it out, I just aired them up and she rolled out just fine. We plan to rebuild the carb and get her running, but leave it in the same historic condition.” For a specialty metal supplier who supplies some of the most state-of-the-art off road race vehicles with tubing and structural steel, leaving the MB in mint shape was a great decision.
WWII Willys jeep production totaled around 350,000 from 1941 to 1945, but in ’41 only 8,598 were produced. These were called ‘slat-grill’ jeeps as the grill was indeed manufactured from metal slats welded together. Later production used the common pressed steel grill, although both were interchangeable. These jeeps also lack the standardized glove box in front of the passenger, and also weren’t fitted with a gas can holder on the lefty rear. Instead the left rear area of the body was embossed with WILLYS, which was deleted in later production runs. This jeeps rear panel has been modified into a tailgate style by cutting the panel out and strengthening the steel and adding hinges- but that unfortunately nearly obliterated the WILLYS stamp.
Even with all of the old-guy style welded-on do-dads, wooden rear floor, sheet metal windshield patches, and awesome old crusty tires, this period survivor reeks of history (and gear oil) and will be treated grandly. Putting around for the first time since it was last registered in 1987 is something I’d like to do, and capture on video.
Rick Pewe, Four Wheeler Network Content Director
GenRight CJ Aluminum Fuel Tank Replacement
While there are a ton of cool products and gadgets for all kinds of vehicles from prerunners to regular old 4x4s (especially JK Wranglers), vintage Jeeps have always been near and dear to my heart. I’ve always appreciated the level of craftsmanship GenRight puts into its products – especially its 1/8-inch-thick aluminum replacement fuel tanks. For years I’ve been asking GenRight owner, Tony Pelligrino, to make a tank for early Jeeps – either one that fits under the driver seat to replace the rust-prone factory tank or one that fits under the tub in the rear. This year, with a huge smile on his face, Tony called me over to show me his latest creation: a beautifully manufactured 1/8-inch-thick aluminum underseat fuel tank for early Jeeps. It should work with just about any civilian Jeep from 1946-1971 and won’t ever rust out like a steel factory or aftermarket replacement. And unlike the plastic replacement tanks, the tank won’t pooch and bulge out when the weather is hot and the cap will actually seal against the filler cap. Way to go, GenRight! Now, how about that under-tub tank?
Christian Hazel, Editor Four Wheeler
Rugged Radio VW/Razor
I picked the Rugged Radio VW/Razor because its about time someone took a side by side and made it look like something cool and iconic. Now all we need is some company to make body kits for these toys to make them look more like what the owner wishes he could buy, build, and wheel. How bout a side-by-side body kit of an early flatfender, CJ, Early Bronco, yada yada.
Verne Simons, Tech Editor 4-Wheel & Off-Road
2015 Chevy Silverado Prerunner
There were a lot of really kind trucks, and even a few killer Baja Bugs, at the Off-Road Expo, and narrowing my choice down to one was really tough, but this 2015 Chevy Silverado comes out on top. But not for the reason you may think.
While we here at Dirt Sports + Off-Road are of humble means and could probably never own something like this, that thinking is the exact opposite of the guy who built this truck the first time. Though it’s now owned by Jason McNeil of Fiberwerx and has seen a few upgrades, it was begun, built and driven for a fair amount of time by Jason Duncan.
Duncan wanted a “Luxury” Pre-Runner and wasn’t about to take reality for an answer. He gave up racing, sold his race Ranger to Eddie Thorogood for a decent price but with the stipulation that Eddie had to help him build the truck of his dreams. Every dollar he had went to his dream, and thus began the truck seen here.
This truck is fitted with all that a pre-runnin’ Trump could want. It has a full tube chassis with Weitzel Motorsports suspension components and features Fox Racing shocks, Method wheels and Toyo tires. A Chevrolet 6.2L LS3 engine puts out 525 horses and
The stock steel body is joined with trick carbon fiber Fiberwerx fenders and bedsides while the interior features Mastercraft seats, Lavorsi Gauges, a Design Works custom dash and a MOMO steering wheel.
Matt Emery, Editor Dirt Sports + Off-Road