Kennykit is big-time
Aussie ingenuity makes a big impression in the US, writes James Stanford
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.