4 Wheel & Off Road - - CONTENTS - Verne Si­mons BY ED­I­[email protected] PHO­TOG­RA­PHY VERNE SI­MONS

Part truck, part car: a 1946 Ply­mouth for rocks, sand, and trail.

IF YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR “CAR” out in the dirt for wheel­ing or of­froad­ing we are all for it. Want to add knobby tires, fab­ri­cate a “lift kit,” or shove a T-case be­tween the fram­erails and/or a front axle un­der them? Yes, you had us at knobby tires! While you’re at it, add a cus­tom bumper, a winch, locker(s), and lights. So long as the mod­i­fi­ca­tion ac­tu­ally helps that “car” off-road, do it. Hav­ing said that, one area where al­most ev­ery­one, even the most skilled fab­ri­ca­tors, should pro­ceed with cau­tion is the oft mis­un­der­stood and fre­quently hor­ri­bly con­structed trar.

Trar, as de­fined by us here at Petersen’s

4-Wheel & Off-Road, is an oc­ca­sion­ally un­holy union be­tween a car body and a truck chas­sis, ide­ally ex­hibit­ing some of the qual­i­ties of a car melded with the rugged­ness of a truck. What we are try­ing to say here is that a truck chas­sis with a car body grafted on top does not nec­es­sar­ily a good trar make. A good trar must be con­structed well with a rel­a­tively low cen­ter of grav­ity (usu­ally they are com­i­cally tall), plenty of clear­ance for tires (usu­ally the tires rub), and a gen­eral con­cern for ac­tual func­tion over form (usu­ally a trar is bro­ken al­ready). Booger welds are ac­cept­able only if they hold.

As it turns out we bumped into one of the more ap­pro­pri­ately con­structed trars we’ve seen in a while in Moab dur­ing Easter Jeep Sa­fari 2018. This 1946 Ply­mouth sedan melded with a K5 Blazer ex­em­pli­fies al­most every­thing that can go right with a trar and none of the things that usu­ally goes wrong. The best part is that the owner and builder of this trar, the head fab­ri­ca­tor at Gor­don Cus­tom Fabri­ca­tion, Joshua Gor­don of Ca­mar­illo, Cal­i­for­nia, isn’t afraid to wheel the black beauty. His Ply­mouth is a rare com­bi­na­tion of ac­tual func­tion­al­ity com­bined with an owner/builder ready to get dirty—in Moab. Per­fect.

Also, the old-school black paint on a

1940s Ply­mouth screams out panache that could well fit on a trail in Moab or in a

1950s mafia movie. So we jumped out of our rig, cam­era in hand, at Moab’s Area BFE to shoot these photos (and a videos) of the Ply­mouth and Joshua, along with his weld­ing in­tern, Justin Molino of Ca­mar­illo High School. The rig made light work of the off-road park’s ob­sta­cles thanks to the guys’ hard work. Check it out!

1 Josh Gor­don started this build with a pretty com­plete 1946 Ply­mouth he got for $500. The orig­i­nal plan was to build a quick and dirty leaf-sprung rig with the body, a 5.3L GM en­gine, A K5Blazer chas­sis, and a set of 1-ton GM axles for the Ore­gon Gam­bler 500 race a few years back. To­gether with his weld­ing in­tern from Ca­mar­illo High School, Justin Molino, Josh got the rig nearly fin­ished when the project fiz­zled. The Gam­bler 500 came and went with­out the car, and the project lan­guished un­til Weapons Grade Fabri­ca­tion asked Josh to restart the project for their dis­play at SEMA 2017. With that in mind, a bit more care was put into the build, in­clud­ing the coilovers, link sus­pen­sion, Warn winches, wheels, tires, and more.

2 The Ply­mouth sheet­metal and de­tails add that per­fect flare. Truck-Lite head­lights by Rigid il­lu­mi­nate the road and path at night. This is one trar we love. Spe­cial thanks to Area BFE in Moab, Utah, for al­low­ing us to shoot this and other fea­tures on its one-of-a-kind, un­par­al­leled, pri­vate off-road park.

3 The front axle is a Chevy king­pin Dana 60 axle from a CUCV pickup with a three-link and 21⁄2-inch, 14-inch-travel King shocks. The front axle houses 4.56 gears on a limited-slip front dif­fer­en­tial with fac­tory axle­shafts. The sus­pen­sion, de­signed by Josh, yields about 11⁄2 inches of lift over the stock Blazer sus­pen­sion with plenty of flex. Steer­ing uses Bal­lis­tic Fab steer­ing arms and Heims, and weld bungs from Ruf­fStuff Specialties. The sus­pen­sion links, built by Josh, use FK rod ends and uni­balls.

4 Out back a match­ing full-float­ing CUCV 14-bolt runs fac­tory 4.56 gears and a Detroit Locker. The links meet the axle thanks to a ful­l­length Arctec truss. Speed Strap limit straps keep the flexy sus­pen­sion un­der con­trol front and rear.

5 The rear shock mounts are beefy, and Josh made sure the shocks pierc­ing the trunk would be some­what iso­lated with fab­ric boots held in place by Vel­cro. That re­duces dust buildup and cleans up the look of the trunk in case the (fic­tional) 4x4 Mafioso need to stash a body.

6 A 5.3L en­gine out of a 2005 GMC truck powers the Ply­mouth. The late-model V-8 is cooled by a three-core ASI Pro Per­for­mance ra­di­a­tor with a 3,000-cfm pusher fan from Pro Cool. Brake ac­tion comes from a Jegs fire­wall-mounted mas­ter and booster with swing­ing pedal kit.

7 Be­hind the en­gine lives a 1972 GM TH350 bolted to a ven­er­a­ble GM NP205, all sup­ported by En­ergy Sus­pen­sion trans­mis­sion mounts. Dual ex­haust turns down just be­fore the rear axle, and just out of view, the trans­mis­sion is cooled by a Derale 13700 fluid cooler mounted high up be­tween the fram­erails.

8 The dash says pure 1946 Ply­mouth, and we like it that way. Although the Dol­phin four-in-one speedo with gauges are dig­i­tal, they look like they could be 72 years old. We would pre­fer the trar have a proper rollcage for safety. Any ve­hi­cle as ca­pa­ble should have one for ev­ery­one’s protection.

9 The in­te­rior of the Ply­mouth was kept sim­ple and is eas­ily en­tered thanks to the suicide rear. The rear seat was re­built and re­cov­ered and the car­pet re­placed. Two sus­pen­sion seats from PRP keep driver and co-driver comfy when the trails get long. The driver com­mu­ni­cates with the trans­mis­sion via a TCI Fast-Gate Shifter.

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