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2006 Real Truck Club Challege Finalists

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2006 on March 1, 2007
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Contributors: Douglas McColloch

Here they are-the realest of the real: Our finalists for Real Truck Club Challenge 2006, the club-based weekend truckathon we held at Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, Indiana last August. To see how they all matched up in competition, check out our event coverage coming in next month's issue. Or log onto for results and highlights. Until then, take a peek at the rigs that made the final cut.

Hometown: Rochester, Indiana
Club: The Hack Shack
Bryan lists his occupation as "specialized services," and his XJ is likewise a specialized rig using a smart combination of stock and aftermarket parts. The internals of the 4.0L six, AW4 transmission, and NP231 'case have all been left alone, but the 4.56:1-geared Dana 30 and 8 1/2-inch axles are located by custom 6-inch coils and extended control arms in front and a Teraflex revolver shackle/SoftRide leaf setup in back. With Rancho and Pro Comp boingers and 3-inch blocks, the suspension clears 33-inch Boggers on 15-inch steel rims. Other good components found on (and in) the Jeep come courtesy of Flowmaster, Optima, Pioneer, and Warn.

Hometown: Rochester, Indiana
Club: The Hack Shack
Chuck's Scrambler takes a different approach. There's not much "Jeep" left under the sheetmetal, what with a Holley 600-fed 350 H.O. crate motor and Hughes-prepped TH400 with manual valvebody powering the Dana 300 'case, which in turn spins the shafts in the AGR-assisted Scout Dana 44 axles with 4.10:1s. A spring-over conversion and Pro Comp shocks provide lift, travel, and clearance for the 38.5x15 Boggers mounted on 15x12 Mickey Thompson rims. A Warn 12000 provides stuck extraction, while Auto Meter gauges monitor underhood action.

Hometown: Deltona, Florida
Club: Clay County 4-Wheelers
Mike's Frontier seems fairly tame at first glance-until you take a peek underneath it. There's nothing remarkable about the stock 3.3L V-6 or four-speed automatic, though the TX 'case sports an Automotive Customizers 3.7:1 low gear. From there, it gets wilder, with a high-pinion Dana 44 front and Rockcrusher Dana 60 rear, both turning 5.13:1s and ARBs, getting the juice to 315/75R15 BFG Mud T/As on 16x10 aluminum Alcoas. A custom three-link and R.E. coils suspend the frontend, while a 6-inch custom spring lift handles rear duties. CTM 'joints, 35-spline Dutchmans, and Tom Wood's shafts provide additional drivetrain beef, and a Warn 9.5ti should keep the Frontier moving when the Florida clay gets a little too gooey.

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania
Club: Erie Jeep People
Ron's wife Nancy is the competitor of record here, and this nice-looking XJ is her daily driver. The 4.0L I-6, AW4 and NP231 are all as the factory intended, though the Dana 30 front now sports a Lock-Right and alloy shafts, and the Trac-Lok'd and alloyed 8 1/2-inch rear is spun by a Tom Wood's CV driveline. The very good Rubicon Express 5 1/2-inch four-link front/leaf-sprung rear suspension, along with ACOS spacers, make room for 35x12.50 BFG Mud-Terrains on 15x8-inch Eagle alloys. Homebuilt bumpers and nerf bars should protect the Jeep's sheetmetal from hungry rocks, and a Ramsey Patriot 9500 helps with unstucking chores.

Hometown: Sagamore Hills, Ohio
Club: Crooked River Crawlers
Here's a TJ with a host of trick trail mods, starting with the Advance HD tailshaft conversion on the NP231 transfer case. From there, a Yukon chromoly'd Dana 30 front and Wood's CV-shafted Yukon Super 35 rear, both with ARBs and 4.56:1s, turn 33x12.50 Kumho Ventures on 15x8-inch steelies, and all are located by a 3 1/2-inch R.E. Superflex coil kit with adjustable rear control arms and a Teraflex adjustable trackbar in front. The 4.0L I-6 and NV3500 five-speed are still unmodified-though well protected by Warn full skidplating-and a 9.5ti is in place to do its part when engine and tranny power aren't quite enough. As Chris notes, there is no chrome anywhere on this rig "except the fire extinguisher."

Hometown: Cadillac, Michigan
Club: Cadillac Jeepers
Jake's XJ follows a similar trend: run a stock engine and transmission, then let your imagination run wild. In this case, it starts with the NVG242 transfer case from a '97 XJ, which mates to a Truetrac'd Dana 30 front with WJ knuckles and an ARB-locked 44 rear. Brakes were upgraded to '00 Grand Cherokee dual-piston calipers and WJ rotors, while the rears sport Liberty rotors. Eight-inch Skyjacker coils work with a triangulated four-link and BDS shocks to let the 37x13.50 TSL Boggers and 15x10 AR Type 23 rims stay in contact with terra firma. Front and rear bumpers serve as onboard air tanks, a Warn 9.5ti multimount can free the Cherokee from terra not-so-firma, and the custom bodywork comes courtesy of "Michigan trees and rocks."

Hometown: Plainwell, Michigan
Club: Sundowners
Built, as Adam notes, for a "variety of wheeling," this TJ also relies on axles, gears, and suspension flex to keep going. The 4.0L six, NV3500, and NP231 feed power to a Yukon-shafted and reverse-cut Dana 44 front with welded spiders, and a spooled and Moser-shafted Ford 9-inch rear. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Wrangler, a 4-inch Skyjacker DoubleFlex short-arm kit elevates it, 2-inch DOM tubing and Poison Spyder Heims help steer it, and 33x12.50-15 Goodyear Wrangler MTRs and 15x10 aluminum rims keep it rolling. Homemade bumpers provide attachment points, and a Warn 9.5XP is ready if Adam gets stuck in Michigan muck.

Hometown: Byron, Illinois
Club: Chicago Land Rover Club
While our Real Jeeps sport plenty of unmodified parts, virtually nothing was left untouched on the "Blue Light Special." Under the hood, a four-bolt-main Chevy 350 is TPI-injected and cammed by Crane, while an owner-rebuilt 700R4 taken from a 4.3L Chevy is B&M-shifted and Hayden-cooled. A homemade NP231 splitter box runs NP241 planetaries and mates to a twin-sticked Dana 300 with Tera 4:1 low-range and 32-spline rear output. The shaved and narrowed high-pinion 60 front boasts an ARB, and the similarly treated 14-bolt rear gets Moser shafts and an ARB too. Driveshafts sport owner-built 1310 CVs (yeah, you read right), and the axles run homemade 1330/1350 yokes. Suspension consists of an owner-fabbed trackbar-style three-link front incorporating Rusty's HD coils and R.E and Currie Johnny Joints, and a double-triangulated four-link rear with ZJ coils; it all provides 9 inches of lift, which is plenty of room for 35x12.50 Dunlop Mud Rovers and 15x8 steelies with owner-built bead locks (yeah, you read right, again). There are so many owner-fabbed tricks on this rig, we could write a book (John's spec sheet was seven pages long), but we'll let him sum it up: "I find the fabrication and building of my rig just as rewarding as wheeling it."

Hometown: Rosemount, Minnesota
Club: 4-Lakes Club
Suzukis have become a staple at RTCC over the years, and John's '88 is a fine example of a Real Sami. The popular 1.6L Geo Tracker I-4 swap powers the stock five-speed and 6:1 Rock Crawler transfer case, which in turn spins Toyota 8-inch axles stuffed with 4.11:1s and Detroits. Old Man Emu springs work with Missing Link shackles and Doetsch Tech shocks to provide flex, damping, and clearance for 33x13.50/15 TSL Swampers on 15x8 Rock Crawler rims. A crossover high-steer conversion from Sky Manufacturing helps the Sami to stay on the trail, the Lowrance GPS keeps it in the right direction, and a Ramsey 9500 with synthetic rope extracts it whenever the Sami gets bogged in Minnesota mud.

Hometown: Holt, Missouri
Club: Domestic Recovery
Tim's Samurai also runs a Tracker/Sidekick motor, but the Sidekick tranny and transfer case are also along for the ride, as is a Kicker Three-mated Samurai 'case with 4.16:1 low and twin sticks. Toyota driveshafts turn Toy 8-inch axles, both spooled and gearing 5.29:1s. Four-wheel discs aid in stopping the Suzi, and Birfield eliminators up front solve the perennial problem of barfing birfs. Three-inch leaf springs clear 33x13.50/15 Swampers on 15x12 Barts sporting homemade bead locks. Other nice touches on this real-world Sami include onboard air, a Black Mountain 8000 winch, Pontiac Fiero seats, "$19.95 Wal-Mart" driving lights, homemade rocks sliders, bumpers, and 'cage, and custom bodywork that comes courtesy of "rocks, trees, and idiots backing up."

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Club: The Sundowners
If this 4Runner looks pretty close to stock, that's because it is. The Dunnings left well enough alone, keeping the mods at a minimum to make a good out-of-the-box trail rig even more versatile. The stock injected 22RE motor, five-speed, transfer case, and axles were all left untouched, though the front spiders are welded, the rear pig is spooled, and both sport 5.29:1 cogs. "Torqued-up" front torsion bars, 2-inch rear shackles, and a homemade 2-inch body lift provide room in the wells for 34x9.50/15 cut Swampers on the 15x7 stock rims. A home-fabbed winch bumper houses a Warn M8000, and a Uniden CB keeps the Dunnings in touch with their fellow Sundowners on the trail.

Hometown: Parsonsfield, Maine
Club: Rocky Mountain Mudders
Home-brewed stout ... er, Scout. Whatever you call it, this IH sports an impressive array of quite-trailable OE and aftermarket parts. The 304 V-8 was bored 0.030 over and dressed with a Holley 500, while the 727 tranny is Hayden-cooled. The stock Dana 20 'case spins dual Dana 44s, both running Detroits, 4.88:1s, Warn 4340 chromoly shafts, and Ox 'joints. Sprung-over leaves and custom shackles work with DOM, Heim-jointed crossover steering to keep the 37x13-inch Boggers and 15x10 AR rims in contact with the trail and steering straight. A Warn 9.5ti in a custom bumper aids with extraction, and other cool goodies on this rig come courtesy of Optima, Hella, and B&M Racing.

Hometown: Belleville, Michigan
Club: Great Lakes 4x4 Bronco Club
This early Bronco is a labor of love-starting with the 351 Windsor V-8, which was bored 0.030 over and dressed with Keith Black pistons, a Performer Plus cam, a Performer manifold, and Holley 670 Truck Avenger. The B&M-shifted C4 mates to a twin-sticked Dana 20, and a high-pinion Dana 44 front and 9-inch Ford rear axle are stuffed with 4.10:1s, spools, and Yukon shafts. The 5 1/2-inch Jeff's Graveyard coils and 5 1/2-inch Deaver rear leaves help to clear the 35x12.50/15 Pro Comp Xterrains on "old school" 15x10 mags with Allied bead locks. Crossover high-knuckle steering, four-wheel discs, alumacoated shorty headers, Jaz buckets, a Ramsey 9000, and custom bumpers are just a few other of the many desirable mods made to this rig, though the bodywork-applied by a "friend we don't recommend"-might be the exception to the rule.

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Club: NOAS
Striking another blow for IFS rigs is Nate's sweet Frontier. The 3.3L EFI V-6, five-speed tranny, and Nissan transfer case are still as they came from the factory, but things get more complex from there. The front axle uses R50 drive flanges taken from a Pathfinder, and both axles are ARB-locked and loaded with 4.90:1s. A 3-inch Sway-A-Way torsion-bar lift and Pro Comp shocks handle front suspension chores and out back, Jeep Cherokee springpacks plus add-a-leaves level the ride. Along with a 3-inch body lift, there's enough room in the wells for 33x12.50 Boggers on silver steelie rims. A Mile Marker 12000 with synthetic rope handles yanking chores, and other good parts found in this Front' include Hella, Optima, and Garmin components.

Hometown: Fallon, Nevada
Club: Fallon 4-Wheelers
Richard claims his Toyota has earned "numerous mud-bog trophies" over the years, and we certainly wouldn't doubt it-with a Crane-cammed 440 V-8 sitting between the Toy framerails that's been further enhanced by a 650 Holley double-pumper, an Edelbrock RPM Performer intake, Flowtech exhaust, and an Edelbrock 250hp nitrous kit. The 727 TF tranny, beefed by B&M internals, transfers the ponies to the NP208 'case and Dana 60 axles, the front running an ARB, the rear a spool, and both 'ends equipped with 6.17:1s and disc brakes. The 4-inch leaf springs in front and stock '63 Chevy leaves in the rear handle suspension duties, while 38.5x15-16.5 Super Swampers on 15x12 steel Barts put the power to the ground. A Warn XD9000i is on hand for extraction, and a 22-gallon fuel cell ensures plenty of juice while blasting through the goo.

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania
Club: Erie Jeep People
Gary may be a card-carrying Erie Jeep guy, but his rig is all Suzuki, or at least down to the axles. A 1.6L Sidekick I-4, stock tranny and transfer case are all in factory condition, but the axles now sport 26-spline chromoly shafts, 5.28:1s, and Lock-Rights front and rear. Old Man Emu YJ springs and Skyjacker shocks help to articulate the 33x12.50-15 Mickey T Baja Claws on Thompson Classic II alloy rims. Custom bumpers provide body armor, Sidekick power steering helps to move the meats, and a Ramsey 9.5e winch helps Gary retrieve stuck Jeepers, no doubt.

Hometown: East Hampton, Connecticut
Club: Eastern 4-Wheelers
Stacey's Suzuki is a fine example of a sensible trail rig that can also be driven daily. The EFI 1600 Sidekick motor with a Thorley header powers the stock tranny and Rocky Road 8:1 transfer case, and stock Suzuki axles are stuffed with hardened Trail Tough shafts, with Lock-Rights and 4.56:1s in the pumpkins. An SOA conversion with Tera Revolver shackles, Rancho shocks, and "over the top" steering all work to keep the 33-inch TSL and 15x8 bead-locked Barts out of the 'wells and steering straight. A Superwinch gets the Sami unstuck, and Grant seats keep Stacey wheeling in comfort on the trails of the Constitution State.

Hometown: Three Rivers, Michigan
Club: 4Playin' 4Fun
Fullsize fans, you've not been forsaken-we've merely saved the biggest for last. Big rigs need big power, and Randall's 360 V-8, bored 0.030 over and sporting ported and polished heads, Black pistons, Manley springs, a Comp cam, Edelbrock 670 carb, and Hedman headers, surely provides enough ponies to motorvate the B&M-converter'd 727 tranny. An NP241 case spins custom 'shafts running 1450 U-joints to turn 1-ton Dana 60s armed with Detroits, 4.88:1s, 35-spline outers, an AGR assist up front, and disc brakes all around. The 6-inch Skyjacker springs with custom mounts and shackles clear 39.5-inch Swamper TSLs on 16.5 steel custom bead locks. Numerous other performance components abound on this rig, courtesy of Superwinch, Autogauge, KC, Kenwood, Reese, MSD and Painless Wiring.

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