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Project Excursion Killer, Part 3

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on November 29, 2004
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Photographers: Wendy Frazier

Bungee jumping, skydiving, roller coaster doesn't matter. Nothing compares to skimming across the desert floor at freeway speeds in a truck that weighs more than most tow vehicles. If you've ever ridden over whoops on a dirt road and loved it, you know where we're coming from. Just think about how much fun you had. Now imagine tripling your speeds and you'll know what it's like to ride in our prerunner Suburban.

Man loves speed, and no matter how thrilling you think a 100 to 1 crawl ratio is, it's never going to kick you in the ass like 420 hp, 4.88 gears, and enough suspension travel to make any road feel paved. Our '01-bodied Suburban built from a '73 GM truck frame was nearly two years in the making and uses a combination of components popular in rockcrawling, mud bogging, and desert racing. We knew the truck would have to take a beating and hold together for more than one trail ride at a time. We also knew the typical dual Dana 60 axle recipe wasn't going to cut it, and we set out to build a four-link rear and independent front suspension monster from the ground up.

Having worked with Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California, over the years on large-scale projects like this, we knew that Maurice Rozo and his staff could put together exactly the kind of machine we had in mind, using only the highest-quality parts and fabrication work available anywhere. Now that we've taken it out for a few shakedown runs in the desert between L.A. and Las Vegas we can tell you the truck has been a success. Just imagine yourself climbing through the window Dukes of Hazzard style, strapping in to the five-point harness and slipping a helmet on over your head before you can flick the ignition on and hit the starter switch. Suddenly the Vortec 8100 fuel-injected big-block in marine trim roars to life. You pull the Jet TH400 into First gear, the rearend of the truck squats and you're flying down rutted roads in an adrenaline junkie's overdose dream. As your eyes tell you that you're about to eat it, the suspension, tires, and chassis scream, "Bring it on!" And then you remember this thing is just a windshield and some headlights away from being street legal! This truck is truly an awesome four-wheel-drive experience. We can't wait to take it on our first road trip. Keep an eye out for us. We'll be the silver blur screaming by you down the center median.

4WOR Pre-Runner Suburban
•Body: '01 Suburban sheet-metal with fiberglass front clip
•Chassis: '73 GM truck with 0.120-wall chrome-moly cage
•Engine: 8.1L (496ci) V-8
•Transmission: TH400
•Transfer Case: NP241
•Front Axle: IFS Dana 44, with Dana 60 outers, 4.88 gears, ARB, and custom CV-shafts
•Rear Axle: AAM 101/2-inch 14-bolt with 4.88 gears and Detroit Locker
•Front Shocks: 3-inch-diameter, 14-inch-travel King coilovers with reservoirs
•Rear Shocks: 3-inch-diameter King coilovers with reservoirs and 3-inch-diameterbypass shocks
•Tires: 37x12.5R17 BFG Baja T/A
•Wheels: 17x8 Alcoa with bead locks

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