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Crazy Customs

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 13, 2004
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There is absolutely nothing normal about Las Vegas. Thus, it's only natural that the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is held there, because there's nothing normal about the SEMA show, either. Well, unless you call donning your Sunday best and walking through 41 miles of aftermarket vendors normal. Of course, one of the most fascinating aspects of SEMA is the radical four-wheel-drive vehicles that are on display. Most often, these vehicles represent the latest in cutting-edge design and components. Some are visually bold, like a Vegas showgirl, while some are more docile, like a focused businesswoman in a business suit. In each case, though, they wouldn't be in Vegas if they weren't the Best of the Best.

Supercharged Silverado

Holding down the carpet at the Full Throttle Suspension booth was this tastefully done '03 Silverado. Under the hood, the 4.8L engine has been topped with a Whipple twin-screw supercharger that helps it produce a dyno-proven 408 hp at 5,400 rpm and 427 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. Up front, a Dana 44 axle replaces the stock IFS, and it's supported, like the rear, by a Full Throttle 18-inch four-link suspension system. King 14-inch-travel, remote-reservoir coilover shocks are mounted to custom shock hoops. Both axles are stuffed with Detroit Lockers and 4.88:1 Precision Gears. Further, the rear axle has been treated to a Full Throttle Suspension factory disc-brake conversion. The truck rides on 39x16.5-18 Mickey Thompson Baja Belted tires mounted on 16.5x14 Weld Mountain Crusher wheels.

Clifton's Rock Slayer

Rock buggies had a strong presence at the show, and one of them was at the Nitto Tire exhibit. It's a Poison Spyder creation that is powered by a 740hp General Motors ZL engine. This 454ci engine is topped with a Speed Marine 502 intake and features multi-port fuel injection. The engine is mated to a heavily modified Turbo 400 transmission and an Atlas II transfer case. Custom driveshafts with 1410-series U-joints carry power to Poison Spyder Advantage axles that feature a number of cool upgrades, including custom 40-spline axleshafts. A front Detroit Locker and a rear spool guarantee that all four 40-inch Nitto tires mounted on 22-inch wheels get torque.

Axis Armada

Axis Sport Tuning displayed this absolutely awesome Nissan Pathfinder Armada. It features an AEM Brute Force air intake, PIAA fog, driving and pencil-beam lighting, a Twisted Tin external rollcage and front bumper, Warn 9.5ti winch and paint by Wet Works. James Chen, President of Axis, says that the custom suspension lift was created using Bilstein coilover shocks modified with Toyota Tundra-application Eibach ERS springs. The Armada rides on Toyo 325/60-20 Open Country tires on 20x10 Axis Warlock beadlock-style wheels.

Mini Monster

One Up Offroad created this insane '99 Super Duty. The truck features an unbelievable number of unique mods, including what builder Dave Hoppert calls a crossmember cradle. This unit mounts to the bottom of the center frame section and provides mounting for the Profab monster truck-style transfer case as well as the front and rear radius arms. The aluminum transfer case not only features quick-change gearsets, but it also lowers the drivelines 12 inches to help eliminate the sharp angles associated with the truck's massive custom lift. Speaking of suspension, the front is comprised of a custom bolt-in three-link system with King coilover shocks that creates more than 12 inches of wheel travel. Much of the rear lift is created by a newly designed patent-pending traction block system that works in conjunction with Superlift 8-inch lift rear leaf springs to improve ride and flexibility. Exterior mods include graphics by Custom Graphic Services in Bend, Oregon and an Offroad Tech Max Duty winch bumper.

Bulled Elegance

Bully Dog Technologies designed this outrageous '03 Ford Super Duty diesel pickup, which they call Bulled Elegance: The Ultimate Tail Gate Party Concept Vehicle. The Alten Company-built truck was the winner of the prestigious Ford Design Award. Some of its most noteworthy features include a custom extended cab, which makes it a six-door Crew Cab, gobs of Bully Dog diesel performance parts--as well as propane and nitrous injection to help it generate 499 hp and 913 lb-ft of torque--and a Kelderman air-ride suspension system. Its most amazing feature is its hydraulically operated fold-down bedsides and tailgate and three-post electric lift tonneau cover, which open to reveal a bed covered in leather, two rear window-mounted 17-inch flat-screen televisions and MTX surround-sound speakers. Finally, it features a swing-out bed-mounted barbeque grill and cooler.

Fab F-150

The guys at L&G worked their magic on this righteous new F-150, and it has us drooling. Its long list of specs includes a CST suspension with Sway-A-Way remote-reservoir coilover shocks in front and remote-reservoir shocks in the rear, 37x12.50-17 BFG Baja T/A tires and Walker Evans 17x9.5 beadlock wheels. The front and rear fenders were widened by 4 inches, a Street Scene fiberglass hood, front valance and rollpan were bolted on, and the whole truck was sprayed House of Kolor Yellow. The bed cage/tire carrier, front bumper and interior cage was fabbed by Custom Truck Shop. Finally, the interior was decked out with a full audio/video system, Carullo seats and a GPS unit.

Rockin' Ranger

It's not often we see built Rangers, so this one at the MTX Audio booth caught our eye. It's been fitted with a 6-inch Superlift suspension system, custom FST front shock hoops to handle Bilstein long-travel shocks, custom FST through-the-bed shock hoops to handle a pair of long-travel rear Bilstein shocks, 33-inch-diameter BFG Mud-Terrain tires, 15x8 Weld Stonecrusher wheels, FST bumpers and rollbar, Galls lightbar, eight KC lights and a Warn 9500 winch. As you can imagine, it's also a rolling showplace for MTX Audio, and it's packed with a large number of their earth-shaking audio components as well as a number of Icon TV monitors.

Liberty And Functionality For All

Front and center in the Mopar Speedshop was this Common Rail Diesel (CRD)-powered Liberty. This torquey little SUV has been stripped of all girlie stuff, like carpet, leather seating and alloy wheels. Upgrade highlights include a top-of-the-line GPS navigation system, a canvas roof with full-length sliding panel, four vinyl-trimmed bucket seats, 9,000-pound-capacity winch, radical steel bumpers and 16x8-inch cast-aluminum beadlock wheels with 315/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler Mud-Terrain tires.

Titan Up

Street Concepts built this Titan, and it spent the week luring people to the Nissan booth. It was impossible not to notice it due to the 14 inches of custom Bullitt Proof Suspensions lift. The custom lift includes Atlas Spring rear leaf springs and Sway-A-Way remote-reservoir coilover shocks in the front. The tall lift allows for fitment of massive 40R15.5R22 Toyo Open Country M/T tires on MHT 22x10 wheels with Factory Tubular Motorsports 22-inch beadlocks. Inside the Titan are Katzkin leather seats, California Auto Design carbon-fiber dash accents, wiring by Scosche, a full Kicker audio system, Eiger Vision video monitors and a Pioneer audio/video head unit. The exterior of the truck was customized by Paint 'N Place in Placentia, California.

Canyon Crawler

Mike Duval is no stranger to building SEMA trucks, and his latest creation was invited to join an elite group of vehicles featured in the official Ford area. The F-150 sports a variety of upgrades including, but certainly not limited to, Mag-Hytec transmission and differential covers, Orme Brothers braided-steel shock and brake lines, a Borla custom exhaust system, a modified CST 7-inch suspension lift, Atlas Spring Company rear leaf springs, Eibach front coil springs, Bilstein 9100 Series shock absorbers, ORU tube bumper guards, PIAA auxiliary lighting, Warn 9500-pound-capacity winch, Budnik M-6 wheels with OMF beadlocks and 35x12.50-17 Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires. Inside the truck is a Classic Soft Trim leather interior, Pioneer audio/video/DVD/navigation system, Savv rearview mirror with 5-inch video screen, PME front and rearview cameras, Painless Wiring illuminated switches, Streamlight hand-held emergency lighting, Nifty floor mats and (who doesn't need this?) an In-Seat Solutions Relaxor in-seat massage system.

Tonka Territory

DeBerti Designs built this F-150, and it won Ford's Design Award. The truck features a number of one-off Trenz billet items, including a machined grille, sill plates, bed caps, step-plate covers, steering wheel, rearview mirror, pedal kit and "Tonka" door handles. The truck rides on 39.5x15-20 Interco TrXus tires mounted on 20x12 Weld Commando wheels. Niera's Body Works in Bakersfield, California completed the unique body treatment and they applied the House of Kolor Chrome Yellow paint. Finally, inside the F-150 there's a collection of audio and video equipment.

Totally Awesome Tundra

Donahoe Racing is one of the leading purveyors of quality aftermarket components, and this Tundra that they built in association with Norwalk Toyota Racing is an example of their expertise. Underneath the Glassworks front and rear fiberglass fenders and the metal cab lie goodies like a custom suspension that easily manages 16 inches of front travel and 18 inches of rear travel. The truck rides on 17x8 Walker Evans beadlock wheels and 35x12.50-17 BFG Baja tires. The engine generates ample power due to a TRD supercharger, headers and exhaust. Inside the truck is a full race-ready rollcage, and it includes rear shock hoops integrated into the cage design.

There's An H2 Under There Somewhere

This was RealWheels Accessories' first SEMA show, and according to Jhan R. Dolphin, V.P. of Sales and Marketing, they knew they'd have to create something a "little wild" to get noticed. So they built this H2. It features scores of products from their product line and it includes an Advanced Flow Engineering air intake system, eight 6-inch KC Slimlites, SportRack Automotive luggage racks, ROSTRA Precision Controls rear obstacle sensory system, GoLight remote control searchlight, Raytheon infrared night-vision system, Fabtech Motorsports 6-inch suspension lift, AGR Performance power steering unit, TradeMark Graphics reflective body graphics, and, of course, the very visible Mattracks all-terrain track system.

Hurricane Hunter

Brian Conley lists his occupation as an athlete/professional surfer. Turns out he's a pretty darned good truck builder, too. His '03 Super Duty was designed to carry him to remote surfing spots like Punta Abreojos, Mexico, which is 600 miles south of San Diego, California. To do this he analyzed every aspect of the truck to ensure durability and functionality. Underneath the rig reside a number of goodies including a 6 ½-inch lift using Deaver springs, King remote-reservoir shocks, a front ARB Air Locker, 37-inch-diameter BFG Baja tires and 17x9.75 KMC wheels. The exterior of the rig sports a plethora of functional upgrades including Safari Gard accessories, four forward-facing Hella HID Xenon lights, one rear-facing Hella HID Xenon light and a 12,000-pound Ramsey winch. Camping is the rule for Conley, so he outfitted the rig with a three-person Hannibal USA rooftop tent, an 8-foot Hannibal USA awning with full enclosure, a 53-gallon water storage unit with Shur-Flo pump, a hot water camping shower, a 1,000-watt power inverter, four Odyssey deep-cycle batteries and an onboard compressed-air system.

Dean's Diesel

Out in the Marine area, Dean Sears' custom '04 Silverado sat connected to a very large boat and trailer. It has no problem towing the pair, since under the hood resides a Duramax diesel which has been enhanced with an Airaid air intake system, MBRP 4-inch-diameter exhaust system and a Granatelli Motorsports Computer Programmer. When it comes time to venture off-highway, Sears would have no problem with that either, thanks to the 9-inch CST lift kit with Fox Shox, Deaver rear leaf springs, 20x10 Billet Specialties Chicayne 8 wheels and 38/15.50-20 Nitto Mud Grappler tires. Of course, cruising the streets of Vegas would be easy too, thanks to the sharp flame paint job by Soncy Road Body Shop in Amarillo, Texas.

Super S-10

The folks from MBRP up in Canada left no stone unturned during their creation of this heavily modified '03 Chevy S-10. Some of its underhood features include MBRP's 2 ½-inch-diameter dual after-cat stainless steel exhaust, Jet Performance Products computer chip, an Optima battery, AEM cold air intake, Nitrous Express nitrous-oxide system and a Granatelli Motorsports mass airflow sensor. Underneath the truck there's a Superlift suspension and body lift system, Weld Racing EVO Renegade wheels, Pro Comp 17-inch mud-terrain tires and a Stainless Steel Brakes performance brake package. Clearly, the look of the truck is the first thing that catches your eye, and it was created using a Keystone Restyling Products custom hood, Street Scene Equipment grille and bumper cover, Superwinch winch, Bushwacker fender flares, Con-Ferr roof rack, APC taillights and corner lamps, and KC auxiliary lighting. Bracebridge Boatworks and Collision Centre applied the custom interior and exterior paint and Ron Gibbs completed the custom airbrushing and pinstriping. Finally, the interior of the truck received Corbeau leather seats, Harman Mobile Systems head unit, speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers, NESA Vision DVD player and video monitors, Auto Meter gauges, Nu Image custom gauge face and Owens Products LaZer Floor Shields.

Lady Liberty

You wouldn't expect anything but functionality from the folks at Tractech, who make the venerable Detroit Locker, and their '03 Liberty doesn't disappoint. It features a pair of Currie Rock Jock Dana 60s with Randy's Ring & Pinion 4.56 gears. These axles are supported by an S&N Fab custom three-link front suspension and a custom four-link rear suspension. Single Sway-A-Way Racerunner coilover shocks reside at each corner, as do Wilwood disc brakes. Tom Wood's Custom Driveshafts made the 'shafts, and they carry the torque from the Advance Adapters Atlas 5:1 transfer case. Helping to turn the big 35x13.50-15 BFG Krawler T/A tires on Trail Ready beadlock wheels is an AGR Performance Products-modified power-steering pump, steering box and Rock Ram. The exterior paint of the Liberty was created by Hulst Design and applied by Custom & Classic using DuPont paint and materials. The bumpers and swing-away tire carrier are Off Road Tech products.

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