This is the stuff that gets our hearts pounding-the actual use of that truck that you put so much of your blood, sweat, and tears in, and the hopefully triumphant return home after a trip to the backcountry. Man and machine 1, nature 0. This is where everything comes to a head; did you build it stout enough? Did you build it right? Will it get you home? Well, at least you got a good picture before you broke it, right? And here they are-real pictures of real rigs being used as intended. Go figure.
Owner/Hometown: John Ebke/Fairbury, Nebraska
What it is: 1984 Chevrolet K-10
The dirt: We are huge fans of any rig that places function over beauty, and John's K-10 fits the bill to a tee. In the engine bay sits a 350ci V-8 that is bored 0.030 over, decked, and balanced featuring 9:1 compression, pocket-ported heads, hydraulic roller cam, intake, 670-cfm carb, with headers and exhaust. The tranny is a 700R4 that came out of a '90 Silverado and is mated to a NP208 transfer case. To complement the engine mods is a Superlift 2.5-inch lift with Tuff Country shocks, an Off Road Design steering-box brace, sway-bar disconnects, and greaseable shackles. Axles are GM Corporate units stuffed with Superior bits and 4.11:1 gears. The front axle uses a Detroit Truetrac, while the rear has a venerable Detroit Locker, one of our favorite combinations.
Oh, and ...: John tells us if he had to do it again, he would have started with 3/4-ton axles, but is happy with an 8.5-inch and 10-bolt matched with the Interco Truxus 33s.
Owner/Hometown: Eric Cespedes/Saugus, California
What it is: 1993 Wrangler YJ
The dirt: This YJ may only be rocking a stock I-6, but it breathes better thanks to a Rock It air intake, a 1-inch throttle-body spacer, Banks headers, and a custom 3-inch exhaust. Suspension consists of a 5-inch Pro Comp coil conversion and MX6 adjustable monotube shocks. The front Dana 30, with Warn hub conversion, and rear Currie 9-inch carry 4.10:1 gears with an ARB in the front and Detroit in the back. JE Reel driveshafts turn the axles, and the rest of Eric's list of mods reads like the Who's Who in the world of wheeling: Tom Wood's, Optima, Premier Power Welder, Warn, BFGoodrich, American Racing, and PRP, to name a few.
Oh, and ...: It turns out Eric wheels a lot, to places such as Big Bear, Moab, Glamis, Calico, Johnson Valley, and the Superstition Mountains.
Owner/Hometown: Justin Nelson/Redwood Valley, California
What it is: 2006 Toyota FJ Cruiser
The dirt: This modern-day FJ sports a 6-inch Fabtech lift with 2.5-inch Dirt Logic shocks at all four corners. Rolling stock consists of 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts mounted on 18-inch American Racing Mojave wheels, and for a little added protection, this FJ counts on a beefy ARB front bumper. As awesome as this rigs sits now, there is talk about straight axle'ing it in the future-our kind of project.
Oh, and ...: It is actually his Mom's FJ-Now that is one cool Mom!
Owner/Hometown: Nick "Grumpy" Sipes/Bedford, Indiana
What it is: 1987 Suzuki Samurai
The dirt: At one point in its life, this rig was a Suzuki Samurai, and while you can still see hints of the original vehicle, there isn't much Sammy left in this little 'Zuk. Nick tells us he built this rig under a tree and in his garage from a total wreck that included a bent frame and broken axles. He has had the rig more than three years, and in that time managed to build up a 1.8L from a '90 Geo Tracker; drop Calmini 6.5:1 gears into the transfer case; and stick a set of Dana 44s underneath it. Welded in the front and spooled in the back, the 44s sport 5.13:1 gears, which help to turn the 36-inch IROK tires on 15x10 Rock4XFabrications bead-locked wheels. Power steering duty comes from a '92 Jeep Cherokee, and Grizzlyfab.com helped with the build, as well as with the driveshafts.
Oh, and ...: The Sammy was so trashed when Nick bought it, it took him an hour and a half just to load it on the trailer to get it home under the tree.
Owner/Hometown: Rusty Etheridge/Stafford, Virginia
What it is: 1997 Isuzu Rodeo
The dirt: Rusty says this is basically a stock Rodeo, except of course for the sound system (we guess it helps for those long lonely moments where you are stuck, and your buddy thinks enough to snap this picture) and a new set of CV axles that replaced the first set that were broken in the dirt. Hey, at least he takes it on the trail and sends in the photos to prove it. For the most part, Rusty says he keeps up with his friends and their Jeeps.
Oh, and ...: He loves Four Wheeler and encourages us to keep up the good work.
Owner/Hometown: Mike Haid/Unknown
What it is: 1977 Jeep Cherokee
The dirt: It may look like a Cherokee, but underneath lurks the shortened chassis of a '92 Dodge W-250. While lopping 22 inches off the frame of one of your trucks, just to drop the body of your other truck on top, may sound impressive to most, but Mike has one-upped us all because the W-250 came with a 5.9L Cummins, which means Mike now has a diesel-powered, 3/4-ton Cherokee. While Mike admits this is a work in progress, he has big plans for his mutant rig, and we are behind his concept 100 percent.
Oh, and ...: Mike's plates read "2DWG."
What it is: Old Cherokee Chief
The dirt: Only serious wheelers need to apply, because this Cherokee Chief is sporting some real hardware, starting with custom 12-inch shocks and hybrid YJ/Wagoneer/F-250 leaf springs that are outboard in the front and inboard in the rear. In case things get hairy, there is a Grizzlyfab.com seven-point rollcage, Jaz Racing seats with four-point RJH racing harness, and a Warn M8000 winch. The body has been trimmed for tire clearance, and underbody rock lights brighten up the trail at night. And for the racecar driver in all of us, the dash sports SunPro gauges and a quick-disconnect steering wheel.
Oh, and ...: The rock knobs are made from stones out of one of our favorite off-road parks, the Badlands in Attica, Indiana.
Owner/Hometown: Jay Lian/Longview, Washington
What it is: 1996 Chevrolet Silverado K1500
The dirt: Meet Jay Lian's Silverado, which takes him and his kids wheeling as much as possible. It has been lifted with a 6-inch RCD Suspension system, and rocks a set of 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires mounted on Ultra Xtreme wheels. Yukon 4.56:1 gears twist the meats at both ends with the assistance of Detroit Truetrac differentials. The 5.7L gains a little extra rock-churning grunt from an S&B Cold Air Intake, Hypertech III Programmer, and dual 40-Series Flowmasters, and if the sound of dual Flows wasn't enough, Jay also has a pretty nice sound system.
Oh, and ...: Jay loves pulling out Fords.