Ken­nykit is big-time

Aussie in­ge­nu­ity makes a big im­pres­sion in the US, writes James Stan­ford

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

AN AUS­TRALIAN liv­ing in Ten­nessee is do­ing a roar­ing trade sell­ing kits that make pick-up trucks look like proper trucks.

Bob Suf­fern has de­vel­oped two con­ver­sion kits that al­low cus­tomers to turn their 1980s and ‘90s pick-ups into minia­ture trucks us­ing few tools.

His com­pany is called Lil Big Rigs and started off with the Lil Kenny kit, a replica of a Ken­worth.

He re­cently in­tro­duced the sec­ond model, the Lil Pete, which is a shrunken Peter­bilt de­sign.

Suf­fern, a long-time me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer says he came up with the idea in the late 1990s.

‘‘I have al­ways been into all the hot stuff,’’ he says. ‘‘I was driv­ing up and down the in­ter­state high­way look­ing at all these rigs and think­ing the de­sign would make a cool street rod.’’

He built a Lil Kenny in his garage and says the re­ac­tion was re­mark­able.

‘‘It’s amaz­ing. Ev­ery time I drive it I get mobbed,’’ he says.

The kits are de­signed to sit on top of an ex­ist­ing pick-up, us­ing the orig­i­nal mounts of the ve­hi­cle.

Only part of the frame is cut off and the body is re­moved. Donor pick-ups in­clude Fords, Chevro­lets and Dodges.

The ba­sic kits cost about $13,500 and in­cludes all the ba­sic parts needed for a con­ver­sion.

The cabin and sleeper cab are made from gel-coated fi­bre­glass that is reen­forced with steel and comes pre­assem­bled with a dash­board.

Also in­cluded is the big grille and all the win­dows, in­clud­ing elec­tric side win­dows and a road-le­gal lam­i­nated wind­screen.

Suf­fern de­signed the kit so it could be com­pleted by peo­ple who like to tinker but aren’t en­gi­neers.

‘‘The project can be done with ba­sic hand tools,’’ he says. ‘‘You need an elec­tric drill, some wrenches and a 4½in. grinder.’’

Cus­tomers also need to have the body painted.

Like proper trucks, the Lig Big Rigs can be op­tioned up.

Big stain­less-steel front bumpers, air in­takes, huge ver­ti­cal ex­hausts, vi­sors, air­con­di­tion­ing, sleeper win­dows and gauge sets are all on the ex­ten­sive op­tions list.

Suf­fern says that kit cus­tomers do of­ten cus­tomise their ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing one Cana­dian who spent $100,000 on his Lil Big Rig.

Up­siz­ing: the Lil Kenny kits make lit­tle trucks look like big trucks.

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