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Ugly Readers’ Rides

Rear Passenger Side
Debbie Smith | Writer
Posted January 1, 1997
Photographers: The Readers of 4-Wheel & Off-Road

The Best of the Sickest

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    Jim Werner of Madison, Wisconsin, thought that $200 for this ’79 Jeep J-10 was a good deal for a 4x4 in Wisconsin. It has a 258 six-cylinder and a three-speed manual tranny. He has rewired the taillights (there weren’t any when he bought the truck) and installed Warn lock-out hubs. Jim has also added a custom battery holder, a new fuel line, and a $300 CD deck. He plans to build a toolbox behind the seat, add lights, and get better tires. Jim says, “No matter what my wife thinks, for $200 it can’t be too ugly. Can it?”

    This ’79 Ford Bronco Custom has a lot of ugly additions according to Michael Scarborough. There’s a rebuilt 351 modified with headers and a four-barrel, 3/4-ton springs, a rollbar, a receiver-type trailer hitch welded to the frame, and a Mustang II steering wheel and seats. Michael says that with chains and four-wheel drive, this Bronc will go anywhere in the mountains of Bellingham, Washington.

    Rich and Gail Pasieka of Friendship, New York, say, “Old Fords don’t die, they just get real ugly.” We guess they would know since they own this ’61 Ford F-150. It has a ’74 302, a ’76 FMX trans, an ’88 GMC box, a ’78 F-150 hood, and a real woodie cab and doors. The Pasieka’s claim it plows just fine. What choice does it have?

    “This is one ugly truck,” according to Dusty Turnage of Vero Beach, Florida. And he should know, since he owns this Chevy K1500 4x4. There’s only 500 miles on the new 350 engine, which is equipped with headers. The 6-inch Trail Master suspension lift and the 33-inch Cooper Discoverer STT’s keep the rig from getting stuck in the mucky Everglades.

    This ’58 International A120-series 3/4-ton was purchased by Bart Perry Winfield, Kansas, to haul firewood, but it has become a do-anything-go-anywhere vehicle. Bart isn’t denying his hauler is ugly, he just doesn’t want anyone to say it too loudly—it has a special place in his heart. The rig has a 240 Black Diamond engine, a one-barrel Holley carb, a four-speed tranny, a Spicer 44 front axle, and high-back bucket seats from a Scout.

    This looks like something the Terminator might drive. This rig belongs to David Swaidner of Roanoke, Indiana. It has a ’78 Chevy Blazer frame, a custom body and wooden bed, a 350 Chevy small-block, a Crane cam and lifters, an Edelbrock Performer intake, a Holley 600-cfm carb, and a K&N air cleaner. There’s a slew of other stuff, including a Grant steering wheel, RCI seatbelts, Auto Meter gauges and tach, and 35-inch Monster Mudders. It’s pretty scary.

    Clinton, Pennsylvania, resident Michael Blumling and his dad own this ’79 Chevy Blazer, which they bought for $900 more than six years ago, and it’s been sitting around ever since. The rig has only 77,000 miles on it, and it has the stock 305ci motor and 31-inch Goodyear Wranglers. The father and son plan to give it all new sheetmetal, a 4-inch suspension lift, 33-inch tires, an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and cam, a Holley 600-cfm carb, Hooker headers, new bucket seats, and a 1,200-watt, 10 speaker sound system. They also plan to convert the full-time four-wheel drive to part-time with manual hubs. Sounds like they’ve been planning a lot for six years.

    Kevin Peters of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, says his ’66 Bronco is basically stock—except for a lot of dents, scrapes, and rust. He uses it for hunting and just playing around. It has a 170 six-cylinder, a plowing harness, and a winch. Kevin plans to give it a camo paint layer and new brake lines, since the back brakes no longer work.

    This ’64 Jeep J200 four-wheel-drive 1/2-ton pickup is the child of Joel Brasch of Dunkerton, Iowa. The rig features a 350 engine, a TH350 trans, and the original Dana 44 axles with 4.11 gears. Ford power steering has been incorporated into the truck, as has a 31-gallon gas tank taken from a school bus. Joel says it’s for those long snow-plowin’ days.

    This ’48 CJ-2A is old but it has all the original equipment, according to Phil Davis of Creston, Iowa, who bought it from a farmer for less than $500. He plans to restore it to as stock as possible. To date, all he has done is install a new master cylinder to get the brakes in working condition. Phil plans to start work on the 134 flathead soon, and then his kids will help him with the bodywork.

    That’s what Rande Knapmiller of Birchwood, Wisconsin, says about his ’76 Chevy 3/4-ton. He also says its ugly and functional. It has a 350 with 150,000 miles and it starts every time he turns the key, even in the sub-zero temperatures of northern Wisconsin. All the lights and controls work except for the radio, and where it isn’t dented, it’s rusted. The entire hood is covered in Bondo, the rear sliding window is broken and patched with wood, the driver-side door and floor have holes in them, and the door latches are broken and close with bungee cords. Rande had to replace the driver’s seat because it had a hole in it; he replaced the broken turn signal switch with one from a Chevette and mounted it to the radio knob. In his own words, “It ain’t pretty, but it works.”

    This is the good side of this ’76 Dodge Power Wagon, according to Ted Smith Jr. of Legrand, Iowa. So what does the other side look like? Ted didn’t say much about his truck except that it has never been the pullee—always the puller.

    Ray Horseman of Bim, West Virginia, says this ’73 Chevy 4x4 3/4-ton pickup is mostly homemade. He calls it the Black Goose and claims its the apple of his eye. Well, the Goose has its original 350ci engine, an upgraded stereo system with 150-watt speakers to drown out the rattles and clangs, a sheetmetal bed, and a fabricated bumper. Ray says the two-tone paint adds texture to the truck’s rugged look. It’s clear he has had to defend his truck. Someone once told him that his truck was so ugly it could stop a train. Maybe it has.

    Tim Pitchard says he found this ’56 Willys Jeep CJ-3B on the side of the road in Wingdale, New York. All it needed to get it running was a set of plugs and a carburetor rebuild kit. It has 5.38 gears, the stock flathead four-cylinder, and a three-speed transmission. Tim says the Willys was last registered in 1987 and was probably used as a hunting vehicle because there’s a gun rack in the back and he found the previous owner’s hunting license. Tim plans to restore this beauty and we hope to see photos of the final project.

    Here’s another $500 goodie bought by David Goetze of Portland. David says he couldn’t pass up this ’74 GMC because it has a 350 engine, a four-speed, and an NP203 with a part-time kit. He says he has only put in $150 more—for the rollcage and a new cab. David plans to install a big-block and new 44s.

    José Antonio Torres bought this ’81 Ford F-250 for $900 (plow and all) as junk, and he’s been working it ever since. José uses the truck to push mountains of snow around Buffalo. He says, “It’s ugly, but the money it makes is beautiful.” The 351M 400 motor has 89,000 miles on it, and the truck is so rusted that José had to make a new sheetmetal floor for the cab and put in a bedliner so nothing would fall out of the bed.

    This ’64 Chevy K-10 Carryall belongs to Dan Gullick of Desert Hills, Arizona. It has the original 292 inline-six, factory power drum brakes, and 31-inch BFGs. Dan outfits the Chevy with 25-gallon gas tanks when he goes out on long desert cruises. It’s a pretty cool ugly truck.

    Doug Pahl says this is the best photo of his ’62 Willys pickup. Wow! Doug also says there’s nothing special about his rig; it has a 350 Buick V-8 and a four-barrel carb. The 4.88 gears turn 35-inch Ground Hawgs under a 6-inch lift. Doug says he finally split the T-case in half and now the truck only has front-wheel drive, but it’s gotten him through three years of fun.

    Well, Monty Redd does call his ’80 Scottsdale “The Mule.” But it is pretty mangy. It has a new 350 four-bolt main motor, a 350 turbo transmission, 4:11 gears, 33x12.50 Wild Country tires, and a 3-inch suspension lift. Monty says it isn’t the prettiest truck underneath all that rust and Bondo, but there aren’t many trucks in South Boston, Virginia, that will mess with The Mule.

    William Chilen replaced his ’66 Ford’s 351 engine with a 390 which he recently rebuilt. He says the steering column is shot, there’s no Reverse, and the hood is held down by a bungee cord. The truck is comprised of four truck body parts, but the cab and the driver-side are original. It has a Mustang front bumper and a straighter grille. William is planning a major restoration.

    Kevin Condon had help from friends Doug West and Chris and Keith Etter of Southside Off-Roader’s in Indianapolis. His beater has 5 inches of suspension lift, resulting from putting the axles under the springs, and he added a 3-inch body lift. A drop pitman arm controls the 36x12.50-15 Super Swampers. There’s a Warn 8,000-pound winch attached to the front bumper. Kevin plans to replace the motor, axles, and gearing, and add lockers.

    Ouch. This ’78 Chevrolet K20 Suburban looks like it hurts. Michael Fussa says the ’Burb performs many duties: hard-core ’wheeling, moonlighting as a storage shed, and being a sling-shot target for Michael’s little brother. It has the original 350, which has 18,000 miles on it, a Superlift 6-inch suspension lift, a 3-inch body lift, and 35-inch BFG All-Terrain tires. Michael named his rig X-Rated because of all the violent ’wheeling it does, which is where all the body damage came from—rocks, trees, and other 4x4s. Double ouch.

    Tim Jones sent this photo of his ugly ride, hoping it would be ugly enough for our magazine. OK, you win. Tim says the rig is fun to drive because he doesn’t have to worry about messing it up (we can tell). He plans to give the chassis a new tub since the entire rightside of the rear fell off when he removed the rollbar.

    That’s what Andy Chambers thinks. He bought his ’76 Dodge Power Wagon for $900 and so far it runs perfectly. It has a big-block 440, and Andy plans on installing a lift kit and either 33-inch tires or 35s. He’s also going to paint it white. His goal is to keep it ugly because ugly is better, and he’s broke.  

    Richard Gross Jr. won’t deny that his ’73 Dodge 3/4-ton is aesthetically challenged. But he says it’s under construction. The engine has been rebuilt, the stock 318 was bored 0.030 over and an Erson cam was installed, the radiator was recored, and a Carter AFB sits on top. The rest of the drivetrain is as follows: a four-speed tranny, an NP205 transfer case, a Dana 44 up front, and a Dana 60 in the rear. There’s no power steering to turn the 36-inch meats, and Richard has a broken steering gear to prove that it takes real muscle to move ’em. All this cost Richard $500. What a deal.

U-G-L-Y. You ain’t got no alibi. You’re just ugly, ugly.” We’re sure that when the Ska band Fishbone wrote the song “Ugly” they didn’t know it would be the perfect theme song for ugly trucks. Even if you’re not familiar with the band or the song, you won’t disagree that the rigs featured on the following pages are truly ugly. This month we pay tribute to ’wheeling rigs that have been abused, overused, beat up, resurrected, resuscitated, preserved, and even worshiped.

Want your hideous 4x4 to live forever in infamy? Then send us gross photos of your ugly ride in action! Mail ’em to Ugly Readers' Rides, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515. Unfortunately we cannot return any of the photography we receive. But then you probably don't want to look at it again anyway.