21 Home-Built Trail Rigs

A survey of what you're building and driving

While we tend to feature crazy custom rigs in the pages of Four Wheeler, we know that you are out there building your own rigs too. They might be mild or wild, but we want to see what you have built. The concept is simple: Every month you send us photos of your rig and some information about it and we sift through what we get and pick out what we like. So this month we decided to expand our focus on these home-built trail rides to show you a more complete cross-section of the rigs that you folks out there are building and 'wheeling.

And while we're on the topic, how do you get your four-wheel-drive vehicle into our usual Readers' Rigs section in the back of the magazine? Well, it's actually quite simple. First, go out and take a quality, in-focus picture of it. Do not take that photo in your driveway or on pavement, because we won't run it.

After all, these are four-wheel-drive vehicles. So get some real dirt under your rig before snapping that photo. Once that step is accomplished, list in detail the modifications you have performed on your rig. Stuff all of that into an envelope and send it to Readers' Rigs, Four Wheeler, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Please remember: You won't get the photo back. But you might just see your rig in the next issue of Four Wheeler.

This Hummer might not technically belong to Spc. Corey Jiras of the U.S. military, but he still drives it plenty. Corey says it blasts across the Kuwaiti desert, where he is stationed, without any problems. Modifications include a .50-caliber machine gun with armor-piercing incendiary ammunition that comes in handy. (There are days here on L.A.'s freeways that we wish we had that.) A Warn winch sits up front to set the Hummer free should it encounter a too-steep berm. Other mods include a couple of five-gallon fuel cans to haul extra diesel, and a long-range radio for those long patrols.

Todd Young owns this '97 Jeep TJ, which he uses hard on the trails around his hometown of Littleton, Colorado. A 4-inch Teraflex lift was installed for flex, while a 3-inch body lift was used to help clear the 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains. Other mods include a Bulletproof bumper with a Warn 9,000-pound winch. A Detroit Locker in the rear helps keep both tires spinning, while onboard air is available to get them back to highway pressure. Helping to coax more power out of the TJ's stock 4.0L is an after-cat exhaust and an AiRaid intake.

Robert Mayhew of Rogers, Arkansas doesn't have any problem seeing out of his '00 Ford Excursion. It features an 8-inch Skyjacker lift that clears 38x15.50-inch Super Swampers on 16.5x12 Weld Racing Typhoon wheels. Two sets of 5.13 gears were then stuffed into the factory axles, along with front and rear ARB Air Lockers. The transmission is controlled by a TransGo shift kit. On the inside is a full set of Auto Meter gauges that relays critical info back to Robert.

Joanna Ballard and her '79 Toyota 4x4, of Arnold, California, prove that you don't need to dump a lot of money into a rig to have fun in the dirt. Most of Joanna's time and money was spent getting the truck in running shape. The 20R four-cylinder engine was treated to a K&N air filter and a set of Monroe shocks was put into place to control the Ridge Runner 31-inch tires. After that, the Toy was rattle-can painted in a snow-camo pattern. The final step was to wheel it.

Bobby Godwin of Tensed, Idaho outfitted his Dakota with a lift kit for his IFS suspension, but was disappointed with the results. So he decided to ditch the IFS and go with a live-axle setup. After some searching, Bobby found a front Dana 44/coil suspension system out of a '79 Ford Bronco. The surgery was performed and the fit was almost perfect, with the result being lots more flex. An ARB Air Locker, along with 4.56 gears, was put in the front Dana 44, while a Detroit Locker and another set of 4.56 gears was popped into the transplanted rear Ford 9-inch. A set of 35-inch Super Swampers is used to supply grip.

Lonzo Ray of Blue Ridge, Texas claims that he still has plenty left to do on his '99 Jeep TJ, but the results so far look good to us. The folks at Currie Enterprises built custom Ford 9-inch front axles for the front and rear. Both come equipped with 4.10 gears and ARB Air Lockers. Tires are 33x12.50-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains on 15x10 Rock Crawler steel wheels. Making space for the tires and providing flex is a Teraflex 3-inch suspension system that operates in conjunction with a 1-inch body lift. To help the TJ creep along, a Tera Low gearset with a 4:1 ratio was put into the transfer case. Finally, to protect Lonzo and his passengers, a M.O.R.E. bolt-in rollcage kit was installed.

It takes a special breed to find and maintain an old Nissan Patrol, and Robert Rusch is one of that breed. He took a '67 Patrol and transformed it into what you see here. Powering it is the stock engine, fed through a one-barrel Rochester carb. The rest of the drivetrain consists of the stock three-speed manual and stock twin-stick transfer case. Front and rear axles are also straight from the factory, so they feature 4.10 gears. Robert deviated from Patrol gospel, just a little, when it came to his rig's suspension. Leaf springs from a Jeep were used in the rear. But the original springs were retained up front. A set of 33x9.50-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains is what this Patrol rolls upon.

Harold Mitchell of Wenatchee, Washington is the happy owner of this '97 Dodge 1500 Sport. A 3-inch Rancho lift provides lift and flex. The additional altitude made room for 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires that assist on the slippery trails of Washington. To help the 318ci V-8 breathe, a K&N air filter system is used on the intake side, along with a 3-inch exhaust with a Flowmaster muffler. Finally, to provide some music to 'wheel by, a Pioneer CD player that feeds two 12-inch subwoofers was put into place.

Lynn Jackson of Ashville, Alabama owns this interesting '82 Jeep Wagoneer. Powering the big beast is a 360ci V-8 that is backed by a TorqueFlite 727 tranny and an NP205 transfer case out of a Ford. Slung under the front is a high-pinion Ford Dana 60 stuffed with 5.13 gears and a Detroit Locker. Out back is a GM 14-bolt equipped with another set of 5.13 gears and a stock diff with welded spider gears-what's called a Lincoln locker. Suspension in the front comes in the form of 4-inch-lift BDS Wagoneer springs along with reverse-mounted and lengthened shackles. The rear suspension uses 1-ton Chevy springs and longer-than-stock shackles. Also, all the spring mounts were moved 3 inches downward to gain more lift. This resulted in sufficient clearance for 44-inch Swampers in the front and 44-inch Boggers out back.

When the stock frame for his '72 Blazer succumbed to rust, Todd Steglich of central Texas decided to replace it with a tube frame. Out came the tube bender and the welder, and after using up a whopping 172 feet of 1 5/8-inch tubing, the new frame was finished. Then a built 427ci Chevy big-block V-8, a TH350 tranny and an NP205 T-case were put into place. For flex and lift, 6-inch Skyjacker springs were used. Attached to the springs up front is a Dana 60 axle with a limited-slip and 4.56 gears. In the rear a 14-bolt with a Detroit Locker and an identical gear ratio are used. Finally, a set of 40-inch Ground Hawgs are selected to claw through the Texas mud.

Clyde Smiley of Parma, Ohio turned his '84 Chevy Suburban into what you see here with the help of a Bummer body kit-and no, don't ask; those kits are no longer available. In addition to this most obvious change, the 350ci small-block V-8 was rebuilt and outfitted with a Crane cam, a Holley intake and Pacesetter headers. Right behind the engine is a 700-R4 trans that was also rebuilt. A 2-inch Skyjacker lift was installed to add just a little altitude. With everything else done, a set of 38x12.50 Super Swampers fit just fine.

This big '95 Chevy 1/2-ton comes from Tony Jackson of Anchorage, Alaska. A live-axle conversion was used to gain lots of lift and flex. In place of the IFS was slung a Dana 44 front axle equipped with 5.13 gears and a limited-slip. Out back, there's a Corporate 14-bolt, also equipped with a set of 5.13 gears and a Detroit Locker. The live-axle conversion helped clear the way for a set of 44-inch Boggers. To help rotate the massive meats, the 5.7L V-8 was equipped with a K&N air filter system and a 3-inch exhaust. Finally, an AGR Rock Ram was utilized to make steering less of a chore.

Trevor Hardwick's rig started out life as a two-wheel-drive '57 Chevy panel truck. But Trevor wasn't satisfied with the truck's stock composition, so he acquired a frame from a '79 Suburban and shortened that 6 inches and built new body mounts to fit the '57s body, which he placed atop this much sturdier frame. Next, a Chevy big-block 454ci V-8 was nestled between the framerails to power the beast. Then a Superlift 12-inch suspension lift was put into place to push the swapped-in 1-ton axles even farther from the frame. Massive 44-inch Super Swampers turned by 4.88 gears were then screwed to the axles to finish off the beast.

Tommy Block of West Monroe, Louisiana built this big '80 Chevy Blazer. A 12-inch suspension lift along with a 3-inch body lift was used to make way for the 44-inch Swampers (front) and 44-inch Boggers (rear). A 350ci V-8 powers the rig and sends power to a TH350 trans. The axles were stuffed with 4.56 gears to help turn the big meats, and a Warn 12,000-pound winch rests up front to help pull it out of the Louisiana goo.

Exploring the mountains around Midvale, Utah, is Mike Swank in his '93 Ford Explorer. A 6-inch lift from Superlift with extended radius arms helps to improve articulation and altitude. The body was boosted another 3 inches to help clear the 35-inch Goodyear MTR tires. Two sets of 4.56 gears were installed to help turn the bigger tires, and a Detroit Locker was stuck into the rear axle to work with the Lock-Right up front to provide traction. A Kurtz Kustom Motorsports air induction kit and a Dynomax after-cat exhaust improve the Explorer engine's ability to breathe.

Dayton, Nevada resident Joe Choat enjoys exploring Nevada's extensive outback in his '97 Chevy S-10 ZR2. He made the truck far better than stock by installing a BDS 5-inch suspension lift and a 2-inch body lift. That cleared the way for 33x12.50-inch Big O XT tires on 15x8 American Racing wheels. A K&N air intake system and a set of headers and a dual exhaust help the 4.3L V-6 move the S-10 a bit more quickly than it moved when it rolled out of the Chevy factory.

The Fitzgerald family of Denver, Colorado likes to get out and explore their surroundings in this '69 Ford Bronco. The original Dana 30 front axle was swapped out in favor of a Dana 44 equipped with a Lock-Right. A Warn full-floater kit was then put on the rear Ford 9-inch axle. An NP435 four-speed manual was then swapped in to help the Bronco creep along. Lift comes from a 3-inch suspension system that clears a set of 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains.

Ronnie Lopp of Mauckport, Indiana owns this tricked-out '98 Ford F-150. Under the hood is found a 4.6L Triton V-8 that has been equipped with a JET Performance chip, a K&N air filter kit and a custom exhaust system. A Fabtech 6-inch lift and a 3-inch body lift came next. After that, a set of 39.5x15 Super Swamper TrXus tires were mounted onto 16x10 Weld aluminum wheels. To polish it all off, a booming audio system was put into the interior.

Rob Kollmansberger of Windsor, Colorado built this fine example of an '01 Ford F-250 Super Duty. It sports a Fabtech 8-inch lift with dual Rancho shocks front and rear. Custom traction bars with spherical rod ends were fabbed up to keep wheelhop to a minimum. A Fabtech front prerunner bumper and a Fabtech spare-tire carrier were also used. Under the hood rests a V-10 engine that is boosted by a Vortech supercharger, Banks stainless steel headers, a BBK throttle body and custom 2 1/2-inch exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. The stock axles were then stuffed with 4.88 gears to turn the 38x15.50 Parnelli Jones Dirt Gripz on 16.5x9.75 American Racing wheels.

It is not too often that we see a built Toyota FJ-80 Land Cruiser, so we were especially pleased to see that Matthew Messmer built this nice '96. Under the hood rests the factory inline-six that is equipped with a turbo-charger and intercooler. For suspension, a 6-inch-lift House suspension system was used. This made room for 35x12.50 Super Swamper SSRs on 16-inch aluminum wheels. To improve traction, a set of ARB Air Lockers was hung in both axles. Up front rests an ARB Bull Bar, along with a Warn 10,000-pound winch to pull the 'Cruiser free when all that traction isn't enough to maintain forward progress.

Mark Beguelin cruises around the many trails near his hometown of Reno, Nevada in this '81 Jeep CJ-8. The Scrambler retains its factory six, but it's fed by Mopar fuel injection. The engine sends power to a T-176 four-speed manual and then a Dana 300 transfer case. Up front is an eight-lug Dana 44 equipped with 4.10 gears and an ARB Air Locker. In the rear is a Ford Sterling with another Air Locker and 4.10 gears. Both axles are located by a spring-over suspension that features Rancho 9012s on extended mounts. A Klune-V underdrive was also installed to help the Jeep creep on its 35-inch Yokohama Geolandars.

Want to Submit Your Reader's Rig?
It's easy! Send us a high-quality photo print (lab process prints preferred), color slide, CD, or floppy to:

Reader's Rigs - Four Wheeler Magazine
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

If you want to submit a digital photo of your Rig by E-mail, you can send it to robin.stover@primedia.com. Images should be high-resolution JPEGs (No TIFFs or RAW images by E-mail, please) no larger than 600 KB. Please only submit one image by E-mail. If you have multiple images you'd like to submit, please send us a CD-ROM by mail. Submitted media become property of Four Wheeler, and cannot be returned.

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