Off Road Nights – the time of the year when Temecula, California shines brightest in the off-road land of the Southwest U.S. Vendors, shops, racers, and enthusiasts all come together to enjoy the good times in the sun while showcasing their latest builds.
We made our way to the nearby Promenade Mall and found the shindig abuzz with hundreds by the time the gates opened, and quickly remembered why it is that this event is not one to miss. There’s simply a ton of fun and good times to be had!
From jumping dirtbikes (courtesy of Fitz Army) to live band performances to car crushings, there is a lot to love at Off Road Nights. Speaking of which, we found a handful of terrific rigs that made our eyes pop out and our jaws drop. Without further ado, let’s get into the top five vehicles that grabbed and held our attention.
5. PJ’s 2015 Chevrolet Silverado
Topping out our picks is this late-model Silverado built by the guys at Steel Nutz Off Road here in Murrieta, California. Already an amazing sight among the others, it was all the more interesting to hear about thanks to the presence of its builder, Alex Curry.
“PJ brought it in, it had some stuff messed up on it, and we did a full build on it,” explained Alex. “We did all of the upgrades on it, with Deaver leafs and a Currie rearend, King shocks all the way around.”
More to the point, the Silverado sports a Mazzulla long-travel race kit with King 2.5-inch-diameter coilovers and 3.0-inch-diameter bypasses. The rear has a C85 Deaver leaf spring set up with a semi-floating Currie Ford 9-inch. “The Deaver pack has a different spring rate than normal,” said Alex. “It helps it act like a four-linked truck in some ways, and there’s a C-notch that provides for a lot of up-travel. Total suspension travel is about 19 inches in the rear and 17 inches in the front.”
Helping the Silverado go the distance is a 55-gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell in the bed, and the truck clambers over it all with 39-inch BF Goodrich Project tires and Method wheels. The passengers are not protected by a cage, but plans are in motion to correct that very soon.
“It’s just a badass truck, it really makes a statement,” said Alex, considering what he liked most about the Chevy. “It’s clean but it can take the abuse off-road and keep going.”
4. Method Race Wheels 1969 Ford Bronco
Over at the Method Race Wheels booth, the guys had a bevy of rad vehicles to gawk at. The one that spoke the most to us was the 1969 Ford Bronco.
“It belongs to the company,” said Method’s Chris McKendry. “The owner to be something of a jack-of-all-trades vehicle, and though we haven’t put in the dirt yet, it’s definitely more than capable!”
Some of the impressive highlights were the Dynatrac front and rear ends, King coilovers and bypasses (along with bump stops), and a thorough, full-built cage stretching from the cab front and out past the rear bumper. Not to mention, a custom front bumper affecting the look of a stock unit, but with three cutouts to house Baja Designs light bars.
“The Bronco was a build we commissioned from Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California,” said Chris. “They did it all, including the Coyote V8 swap and Turbo 400 transmission.”
The SUV was a showstopper at Off Road Nights, and might be seen again at the upcoming Sand Sports Super Show in Costa Mesa next month. Keep your eyes peeled for this beauty to reappear!
3. Bryan Wagner’s 1995 Ford F-150
Who doesn’t love the Old Body Style Fords? Don’t answer that – if you say you don’t, you’re wrong! Well it’s all subjective anyway, but you have to admit, the treatment Brian Wagner gave to his ’95 F-150 is righteous. We got the download from Brian on what he had done to this pickup.
“It started out life as a stock four-wheel-drive, actually,” admitted Brian. “I needed more power, and that kept breaking the transfer case, so I just said to heck with it and converted it to two-wheel-drive.”
Turning the truck into what it is today involved four-linking the rear and giving it bypass shocks on all four corners. “I started working on it in 2006,” said Bryan. “It’s taken years to get it where I want it, but it was time well spent.”
Some highlights of the truck are the Bryan’s handiwork with the I-beams up front, and installation of a crossover steering setup. The latter is very good for controlling the truck’s movements left or right compared to its stock Y-link setup, especially when the suspension is cycling up and down, since this can cause the wheels to toe in or out and lead to tremendous strain or breakage.
The engine is a 550-horsepower beast with a roller camshaft, and it connects to a billet C6 transmission. “It can get up and go,” said Bryan. It connects to a Currie 9-inch rearend with Richmond gears and an Eaton Detroit Locker.
As for safety and bodywork, Bryan did the work himself here as well. He built his own cage and molded his own fiberglass body panels to bring the truck to a perfect conclusion.
2. Anthony Cully’s 2009 Chevrolet Silverado
The Bowtie gang will love this one. This was Anthony Cully’s Silverado, and it was one hell of an off-road machine to see at this event. Anthony is part of the famous Dirt Alliance team, an online off-road brand built from the ground up since 2002. You’ve no doubt heard or seen their work on Instagram or YouTube – unless you’ve been living under a rock.
Anyway, back to the truck. Anthony has done a number on the Silverado to give it impressive shock travel and protection in the dirt, and it shows, from the front to the back. We got the full scoop from Anthony himself at Off Road Nights.
“Up front, this thing has a Mazzulla race kit with full tig welds,” he said. “The rear is a 40-spline Currie full-floater setup. As far as suspension goes, I have Fox coilovers with dual-rate springs and triple-bypass shocks, giving me 18 inches of wheel travel.”
You can already imagine the level of work that went into this build; but Anthony wasn’t done yet. “The body was a FiberwerX creation,” he said. “This has their one-piece hood, and the bedsides in the rear. All of these pieces were bedlined to give them some extra toughness, too.”
Under that one-piece hood, Anthony installed a built 5.3-liter V8 with an LS3 camshaft and billet internals. It features headers that feed into a three-inch exhaust system. “I’m pushing just over 400 horsepower,” said Anthony.
1. Richard Garrett’s 2006 Jeep Wrangler LJ
Sometimes, it’s hard to find a Jeep Wrangler that really separates itself from the pack. These ubiquitous rigs are the most popular off-road vehicles here in the States, and there’s no shortage of TJs, JKs, and soon enough, JLs that will crawl malls until the cows come home.
What’s hard to find are the limited-run LJs of the TJ era, and even harder to find ones that actually get used and abused. One of them belongs to Richard Garrett, and his 2006 GenRight Off Road LJ was a real gem to find at Off Road Nights.
“The LJ is the perfect platform to build a Jeep out of,” offered Richard. “It can do the King of the Hammers and Moab and anywhere you want to go. So I bought this LJ and grabbed a set of race axles out of a race vehicle, and just built it up from there.”
And “built it up” he did. “It’s got Currie-built Dana 60s front and rear, an Atlas transfer case, and an LS1 V8 with a 4L60,” said Richard, discussing his Jeep’s drivetrain. “It works great and goes just about anywhere.”
Naturally, all that remains of the original is very little. “The only stock things left are the frame and the tub,” said Richard. “The rest of it – fenders, trailing arms, rock sliders, axle shafts – is all GenRight.”
Which of our Top 5 did you like the most? Let us know in the comments below.