The need for exploring off-road is a notion that we feel we can find across the entire United States. That’s the drive behind our new column, Stateside Shop Tour. Come with us as we tour the nation looking at shops that build capable off-road machines of all shapes and sizes.
Our previous (and first) stop found us in Enumclaw, Washington with Extreme Options Fabrication. This week, our attention shifts eastward as we head to Idaho. That was where we found Buck’s 4×4, servicing the off-road community in and around the state’s capital, Boise.
The shop is owned and managed by Jeff Buck, whom we got to talking to over the phone to learn more about the background and evolution of Buck’s 4×4. “My father started it back in 1966,” he explained. “He was a farmer’s son and learned how to work on and fabricate in his early days. He grew up and bought a Jeep, which he lifted and put 31-inch tires on. It just kind of took off from there. He started building bumpers and tire carriers for friends and customers.”
The father started his shop as a 1,000-square foot space adjacent to the grandfather’s grocery store. Time and good fortune expanded it in 1982 to a 3,000-square foot showroom and 6,000 square-foot shop, located two miles apart from one another. Jeff took the helm in 2008, eager to take what he had learned from his lineage and continue it well into the 21st century. Along the way, Jeff has found the off-road community to be his hearth and home. “The people are kind of what drive me,” he said. “The 4×4 community at large is pretty down to earth, and I love them for that.”
And while Jeff doesn’t always have time to go wheeling when he pleases – being a father to a family with five kids and a full-time self-employed businessman tend to cut down on personal time – he still likes to see his shop producing awesome builds week in and week out. Currently, Buck’s 4×4 is hard at work putting a refresh on a 1995 Wrangler YJ that will be the shop’s play vehicle for sand and mud drags, as well as act as a showcase for the shop’s capabilities on the whole.
“The plan for modifications starts with 40-inch tires and a four-inch lift,” said Buck. “We’ll go with a 5.7-liter V8 and fit it to a 14-bolt GM rearend and Dana 60 front end, with a Turbo 350 transmission and 205 transfer case in between. The wheelbase will be adjusted, too. We’re going to stretch the rear axle out by six inches, and the front axle by three inches. We’ll put coilovers on all fours and modify the wheelwells so they allow more articulation while keeping the vehicle low.”
At the moment, the Jeep is still in a state of disassembly. The body is being pulled off the frame, but the drivetrain has already been removed completely. “We’ll shave the frame, clean it up, have the body media-blasted, get the suspension on, and have it painted and wrapped,” said Buck.
The hustle and bustle of off-roading has been the lifeblood of Buck’s 4×4 for nearly 50 years now (next year will be the big-time anniversary), and looks to continue for years to come thanks to the hard work and customer satisfaction the shop is capable of. We’ll be back following Thanksgiving with yet another awesome shop for you all to check out, this time in North Dakota.