Thursday, March 3, 2011

A little history before we dive into the buildup...

One of the challenges of building a 4x4 is where to start.

This Toyota is my 4th offroad truck.

My first was a 76 International Scout II. It was orange with a white top. The 345, 4 speed, Dana 44s and a well-worn TracLoc in the rear that was useless just about everywhere. The engine was heavy-wall cast and weighed about 900#. Mud and this truck were not friends. But you couldn't dent it, and you didn't care if you did. It did OK offroad, but I never lifted it and clearance was the biggest issue. And mud.

Eric's 88 K5 Blazer on Little Rubicon in Tillamook State Forest

My next truck was a K5 Blazer. It was quite capable bone stock. With a Gov-Loc in the back (limited slip/locker combo), it's really a 3WD when you move the short lever in the 4wd position.  Throw on some good tires, disconnect the front swaybar, and it happily went a lot of places most stock trucks struggle through. When driven properly, a Gov Loc is pretty capable. I've also blown up a couple. Mid- and late-80s Blazers, like mine, came with 28 spline axles with c-clips. That leads to moments like this. :)

My next truck was a class 1700 JeepSpeed Jeep Cherokee. The cage was set up to seat 5, and it went through the dash down the a-pillars. Just awesome. However, I learned that I didn't like having all my rear cargo room taken up by cage and shocks. This was during the tech bubble, so I had a little bit of coin to throw at it and was able to get it all done at once. Dave Turner Motorsports did the work, and they did a fabulous job. All welding was TIG, etc. Really well done. It worked great and we did race it. I wish I didn't have to sell it because it was so capable. But we never really bonded, that truck and me. It was super cool and ultra fast. It ran PRP seats and nets, BFG MTs (still my favorite), Deaver springs, Bilstein 9100s and air bumps, etc. Desert Mike at Kartek provided much of the hardware that went onto the truck.

Now I'm onto my 4Runner. I've always wanted one. And, so far, we've really bonded. I really like the truck, even though it's noisy, it vibrates (Total Chaos solid motor mounts), it's loud (the muffler has got to go), it's slow (intercooler, where are you!?), and it doesn't wheel very well stock (as well as a stock 2010 Wrangler at least). How's that for funny? In some ways, I really like it better than the Cherokee - which was far more urbane, comfortable, had better handling, and was faster. But the 4Runner is giving back about 17mpg with 32" tires on it and an automatic. On this ethanol crap we need to run nowadays. That's pretty cool.

More about the wheeling part in my next post!

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