Going to King of the Hammers takes you not just to one of the greatest off-road races in the U.S., but it also takes you to a gathering of some of the most wildly built 4x4s out there. We saw this last year when we covered the Hydrodynamic Buggy built by Jeff Friesen, a vehicle so overbuilt and extreme that we felt it could truly go anywhere.
In that same spirit, we happened upon Bond Gilmer from Rebel Off Road and his “custom-built adventure vehicle,” as he first described it. Taking a moment to look upon all the bells and whistles it had packed onto it, we started asking questions to find out more.
“The cab and chassis are from an Isuzu NPR,” he said (Isuzu actually calls it the “Elf,”; Chevrolet sells it as the NPR to international markets). “Everything else is just build around that. It’s got a six-liter Chevy motor inside of it. All of the suspension is full-blown, trophy-truck-level components – trailing arms, 3.0-inch coilovers, 2.5-inch triple bypasses, hydraulic bump stops on all four corners. We went massively overboard on this one.”
That last statement was definitely accurate, given how much of a treatment this beast had received. Nothing about the NPR looked ordinary or small-time; every square inch of the machine was decked out for off-road exploration, whether it was the bright orange endo-meets-exo-cage or the ample storage space in the back, where extra fuel, tires, and food and water were kept.
Armed with four-wheel-drive (and even street legality), Gilmer stated the vehicle was built to attract attention for customers who wanted one for themselves. “We wanted everything to be crazy reliable, so that we could make it appealing to the international market,” he said.
One question that came to our minds was the decision to run with gasoline over diesel, given that this monster weighed 3.5 tons. Gilmer answered that gasoline simply made more sense, saying “the rest of the world doesn’t have ultra-low-sulfur diesel, so having a diesel motor would have limited us to staying here in North America. On the other hand, cheap gasoline, no matter where it comes from, will work with this Chevy motor.”
This was quite a vehicle, from quite an event. Check out our other coverage from this year’s KOH, and we’ll see you next time.