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Killer K30: Offroad Design's Latest Chevy Truck Build

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When it comes to building adventure-ready fullsize Chevy and GMC trucks, there’s no name more well-known than Offroad Design. Based out of Carbondale, Colorado, Offroad Design has been turning out some of the toughest off-road products and vehicles for over a decade. Using events such as King of the Hammers and Ultimate Adventure to hone in its wares, ORD has proven time and time again that there are plenty of capable non-Jeep options for those looking to conquer trails in a domestic platform.

We caught up with Offroad Design owner Stephen Watson at the 50th Easter Jeep Safari in beautiful Moab, Utah. Watson was testing out the company’s latest build, which is loosely based on a 1985 Chevy K30. We got a chance not only to see the rig in action, but ride passenger as well. It takes a certain type of ‘wheeler to confidently handle a fullsize rig on some of the more narrow Jeep trails and Watson does it with effortless ease. The best part about the K30 is that it’s equipped with off-the-shelf Offroad Design components. What it sells, is what it ‘wheels, which is how it should be.

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Under the hood, you’ll find an all-aluminum 6.2L GM V-8 that was salvaged from a wrecked Cadillac Escalade. The L92 was fit with a Tilden cam package, which is run by a Tilden stand-alone computer and harness. The 348 horsepower push-rod engine is cooled by a Griffin radiator designed specifically for the LS series engine. An Airaid intake system was used to route the air cleaner inside of the cab. Stock exhaust manifolds were retained and feed a custom dual exhaust with Flowmaster Mufflers.

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Fueling the 6.2L engine is a Goat Built 19 gallon fuel cell. A convenient feature of the cell is that it allows you to run a stock GM fuel sending unit. This cuts down on any potential issues often associated with external pumps.

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There’s no shortage of switches and levers inside of the cab. Controlling the Jimmy’s 4x4-built Turbo 400 is a Winters shifter. The TH400 was fit with a 300M input and output, full manual valve body, and a Jimmy’s 4x4 custom torque converter. Behind the bulletproof transmission is an Offroad Design Magnum four-speed transfer case setup. This gear-driven T-case configuration uses ORD’s Magnum underdrive gearbox mated to an NP205 T-case. This ultra-tough and relatively lightweight setup allows Watson to have the gear reduction he needs in the rocks, and enough wheel speed and torque reduction to be versatile in all off-road arenas.

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Since the NP205 is setup for a driver’s-side drop, Watson swapped in a high-pinion Dana 60 front axle from a 1979 Ford. To make sure the axle could take a beating off-road, it was stuffed with Yukon Gear & Axle chromoly axleshafts, CTM U-joints, ARB Air Locker, and 4.88 differential gears. Steering duties were split between an Offroad Design’s crossover steering kit and PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist system.

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An Offroad Design four-link suspension replaces the stock leaf-spring configuration. This setup uses ORD’s optional 7075 aluminum lower control arms for added strength and weight savings. A total of 14 inches of vertical wheel travel is accomplished thanks to King 2.5 coilovers. Moderating the travel is a set of King air bumpstops. The heavy-duty driveline was crafted by Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shaft’s and uses a 1350 double-cardan joint at the T-case and 1350 U-joint at the axle.

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Out back, you’ll find a GM 14-bolt rear axle. While the stock drum brakes were swapped out for an ORD disc conversion, most of the full-float axle remains as it came. Just the same as the front, 4.88 gears along with an ARB Air Locker were fit inside. Keeping the axle in place is an ORD triangulated four-link with 7075 aluminum control arms. It boast an impressive 17 inches of travel all modulated by King coilovers and air bumpstops. To increase the stability of the rig, a Speedway Engineering sway bar was installed.

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The frame is mostly stock K30 with the suspension brackets frenched for a smooth belly and the tail cut off for the custom tube bed. Offroad Design is known for its extreme and clean execution of boatsiding, but the company opted to leave the door openings and rockers at the stock height on this build. This made the truck a little easier to get in and out of and helps retain more of the classic K30 truck appearance.

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We’ve seen a fair amount of custom beds come out of ORD over the years, but this one just might be our favorite. It’s comprised largely of 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing. The overall styling of the fenders and bed sides lends itself to preserving that classic truck appearance, which is something that is often lost on tube beds.

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Along with fitting a 40-inch Trail Grappler spare tire, Watson built the bed to hold all of the gear and spare parts he would need for long distance adventures. This includes making sure that his ARB Fridge/Freeze has a spot as well. The clean and modest LED taillights are from JW Speaker.

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The same 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall tubing that comprises the bed, also runs throughout the cabin. The PRP suspension seats provide plenty of comfort, while the ORD tube doors help with visibility on the trail.

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Getting the power to the ground are 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers. Watson notes that the tires have been an instrumental part in creating a vehicle that works well on-road and off. To make sure he’s getting the most potential out of the tire, he secured the dynamic 40-inch mud terrains to a 17x9 TrailReady beadlock wheel.

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Adding front end protection and increasing the approach angle is an Offroad Design winch bumper. It supports a Warn Zeon 10S recovery winch, for when Watson or others get in a bind. Additional lighting needs are handled by Baja Designs Squadron XL Pro lights.

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Hard Facts

Vehicle: 1985 Chevy K30

Engine: 6.2L GM L92

Transmission: Jimmy’s 4x4-built TH400

Transfer case(s): Offroad Design Magnum 4-spd NP205 system (1:1, 2:1, 2.72:1, 5.33:1)

Front axle: High-pinion Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, CTM U-joints, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears

Rear axle: GM 14-bolt, ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears

Suspension: Offroad Design 4-link w/King coilovers

Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler

Wheels: 17x9 TrailReady HD beadlock

Misc: Tom Wood’s driveshafts, Warn winch, ORD front bumper and custom bed, Goat Built 19-gal fuel cell, Tuffy console, PRP seats, Lowrance Baja 540 GPS, Optima Battery, Hi-Lift Jack, ORD tube doors, PSC Motorsports hydro-assist


Check out the truck in action with a full feature video here!

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