Our shop vehicle, affectionately named “Dusty”, has been in our possession for the last 10 years. Dusty earned its name after a two-week trip down the Baja Peninsula, where dust and sand managed to find its way into every crack and crevice of the vehicle (And its passengers). Dusty has traveled all over North America and has tackled some of the most infamous and technical trails in the US.
Since owning the vehicle, we have overhauled the driveline and suspension with RTE components, Tom Woods Driveshafts and a Great Basin Rovers rear differential. The truck has 3” of lift in the front and 5” in the rear to accommodate 35” BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires and Bilstein long travel shocks for superb offroad ability. The truck is outfitted with an assortment of original SafariGard armor to include brushguard, rock sliders, steel wheels and spare tire carrier. The brushguard is fitted with an original Superwinch Husky winch, Hella auxiliary lights and a Factor55 fairlead and winch shackle. The exterior lights have been replaced with LEDs and JW Speaker LED headlights. A Mantec snorkel with a ram air intake was installed for added breathability in offroad conditions, and a K&N air filter, cerakoted Borla exhaust and NRP chrome Y-pipe give the engine more room to breathe, while increasing horsepower and adding a throaty note from the exhaust. The fender flares have also been covered in ProCote truck bed liner for added protection and rugged aesthetics.
The interior has been completely overhauled, to include Dynamat sound deadening and Dynapad sound proofing material in the tub, seat boxes, footwells and door cards to greatly decrease road noise. The Dynamat and Dynapad were covered with new rubber flooring throughout the truck, giving a rugged and durable aesthetic to the interior. The original seats were custom upholstered with a washable vinyl that matches the truck and a Tuffy Security Products center console, rear storage box and speaker boxes provide an exceptional amount of lockable storage throughout the truck. The stereo has been upgraded with an Alpine 4-Channel amp, JBL 2-way speakers in the doors, JBL 3-way 6×9 speakers in the rear and a Sony head unit with Bluetooth and hands-free calling capabilities. On the dashboard, we also installed a RAM mounted Apple iPad that is integrated into the stereo and provides navigation capabilities via a Garmin GPS puck when driving outside of cellular networks. The dashboard has been configured with dual-USB ports, a 12V charging port and Carling switches that operate the aux lights on the brushguard, emergency hazard lights and an on-board ARB air compressor located in the passenger seat box. An Optima dual-battery bank and trickle charger are also located in the driver seat box, providing adequate power to the electrical accessories.
NAS Hardtop Overhaul
Dusty also has the original 5-piece fiberglass NAS hardtop. Due to the age and condition of the fiberglass, we disassembled and covered the individual pieces with ProCote truck bed liner for added protection. The hardtop’s headliner has also been lined with Dynamat sound deadening material and a custom headliner was installed, adding a clean and rugged look to the truck, while decreasing cabin noise and increasing interior warmth in colder climates. Front and rear interior LED dome lights were also installed for better visibility in the vehicle at night.
Exterior and Wheel Restoration
Due to Dusty’s age and abuse as a daily driver and trail rig, the truck is currently undergoing another substantial overhaul. The original exterior paint is showing signs of oxidation and the body has sustained minor dents and dings from trail abuse. We stripped and prepped the exterior of the truck, addressed the body damage and will apply a fresh coat of Portofino Red paint to the body. The roll cage, armor and checker plate were in various states of disrepair, so we sandblasted everything and will apply a fresh coat of flat black single-stage paint. The rock sliders have significant rust damage and will require patch welds, and the spare tire carrier will require welding, new structural gussets and new heim joints. The steel wheels have also been sandblasted and will receive a fresh coat of grey metallic flake paint. The hardware for the door hinges and the roll cage will receive a grey anodized treatment for protection and a clean finished look.
The upper dashboard and the instrument binnacle on the dash are cracked and broken in several spots, so we are replacing everything with new dash components that will include Croytec billet alluminum trim. The billet trim pieces will receive the same grey anodized treatment as the exterior hardware.
Some of the Upgrades
With just over 126K miles on the engine, we decided to rebuild it. We stripped the engine down to the block, thoroughly cleaned everything, re-honed the block, polished the crank, refaced the manifolds and fly wheel, we also installed new high-pressure pistons, ring bearings and head studs. The engine will include a new starter, new water pump and new gaskets. With the addition of a Crower high-lift cam and heavy duty push rods, we are excited to see gains in power once the truck is back together. To accommodate the new engine, we cleaned and de-greased the engine compartment, replaced old hoses, replaced the stock reservoir bottles with Mishimoto aluminum bottles and will install a custom Champion Cooling Systems aluminum radiator with dual electric fans and steel braided oil cooler lines to address overheating issues in hot and high-altitude environments. Follow our social media for the latest updates on this project.