Part 1: Keepin' it Real-the finalists
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 fourwheeler.com 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
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.