The average tax return for 2012 was $2,985. Now, we understand that it might not seem “fiscally responsible” to spend all of your tax return funds on a gift for yourself, but wouldn’t it be fun if you did? Since we figure you’ll still need to keep a little for gas money, we’ve pulled together eight pricey, but not entirely budget-busting products that we would be happy to shell out our refund cabbage on.
1. GM Lifter
How much: $2,363
Hard facts: Want to add a better stance to your ’11-’14 GM ¾-ton or 1-ton truck? Well, BDS Suspension has a 6½-inch lift designed to take your late-model pickup up a notch. Each kit is fitted with high-arched front crossmembers, steering knuckles, a front skidplate, 5-inch rear blocks, and your choice of BDS 5500 or Fox 2.0 shocks. To add extra clearance and ease installation, the trucks torsion bars are kept in the factory location. Suggested tire size is 37 inches.
Contact: BDS Suspension
2. Beadlock Bling
How much: $359 (each)
Hard facts: A quick way to increase the performance of your 4x4 off-road is to lower the air pressure in the tires. While single digits will often net you the best results, the low pressure territory can also allow the tire’s bead to escape from the wheel. The Chamber Pro II from ATX Wheels is a beadlock wheel that is designed specifically to prevent this unwanted rubber and rim separation. Each six-spoke Chamber Pro II beadlock is cast from A356-T6 aluminum and features an inner-bead reinforcement, dual valve stem configuration, ¾-inch billet 6061 T-6 aluminum locking ring and is offered in a machined or black Teflon-coated wheel finish. Currently, the wheel is available in a 17x9 with 4 inches of backspacing.
Contact: ATX Series Wheels
3. Bolt-On Coilovers
How much: $1,750 (front)/$1,850 (rear)
Hard facts: If you are looking for the performance advantages of a coilover shock, but don’t have a welder or fab skills to outfit your ’07-current Jeep Wrangler JK, EVO Manufacturing has something for you. The company’s front and rear bolt-on coilover kits allow you to install specifically valved 2.0 King coilovers, which results in an impressive 12 inches of vertical wheel travel. Each kit includes shocks, mounts, and hardware and is said to accommodate 2 to 5 inches of lift on both two- and four-door Wrangler JKs. Systems are said to work with factory sway bars and exhaust.
Contact: EVO Manufacturing
4. Plasma Cutter
How much: $1,111 to $ 1,954
Hard facts: Cutting metal is commonplace in the 4x4 hobby. And though there are plenty of tools made to slice and dice metal with ease, few do it with such ease as a plasma cutter. Plasma cutters, such as the AirForce series from Hobart Welders, combine an electric arc and compressed air to cut through conductive metal material such as steel and aluminum. The AirForce 250ci even comes with a built-in air compressor, making it an all-in-one tool that doesn’t require any separate equipment. If cutting 3⁄8-inch steel in a single pass sounds attractive to you, we say it’s worth taking a look at the Hobart AirForce lineup.
Contact: Hobart Welders
5. Magnum Box
How much: $1,990
Hard facts: Offroad Design’s Magnum Box is a planetary gear reduction box that bolts to the front of your rig’s existing transfer case. Inside the aluminum case rests a six-pinion planetary gearset that offers 1:1 and 2.72:1 ratios. Compared to a traditional NP203/205 ORD Doubler, the Magnum box is shorter, fitted with a larger intermediate shaft, and weighs less than half (34 pounds) of the NP203.
Contact: Offroad Design
6. Ultimate IFS Axles
How much: $2,495
Hard facts: RCV Performance Products Ultimate IFS CV Axles are built to overcome the limitations of the stock CV ’shafts. Bolt-on sets, such as those offered for the ’88-current GM 1500 fullsize trucks, are crafted to eliminate the all-to-common weak point on IFS rigs. The RCV ’shafts work by not only increasing the operating range, but outfitting each with more durable components such as a chromoly dome-mass cage and race and more puncture-resistant CV boots. Each ’shaft is rated up to a 47-inch-tall tire and backed by a “No Questions Asked” limited lifetime warranty.
Contact: RCV Performance Products
How much: $619 to $1,224
Hard facts: Larger tires, low air pressure, and locking differentials are all great for off-roading, but can place additional strain on your steering system. An easy upgrade is to install a hydraulic-assist steering system, such as those offered from PSC Motorsports. A hydro-assist system adds a hydraulic cylinder to help take some of the load off of your rig’s steering gearbox. Many of the kits offered are vehicle-specific and completely bolt-on.
Contact: PSC Motorsports
8. Bowtie Bumpers
How much: $1,849
Hard facts: Bumpers take a beating off-road and the stock units fitted on most late-model pickups usually don’t fare well with frequent abuse. Fortunately, Buckstop Truckware offers a host of front and rear bumper upgrades for small and fullsize trucks and SUVs. Bumpers such as the Classic winch bumper shown here for the ’03-’07 GM ½-ton are offered in a variety of configurations. Standard features include a 16,500-pound winch mount, trailer receiver, six-inch built-in light mounts, latching cover plate over the winch controls and spool, license plate mount, OEM-style towhooks, and a powdercoat finish.
Contact: Buckstop Truckware