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Top 10 Off-Road Feature Vehicles of 2016

When it comes to custom builds, there were plenty to write about in 2016. From dissecting Erik Miller’s 2016-winning King of the Hammers car to Northrup Fab's one-of-a-kind shop truck dubbed the Trophy Rat, we’ve shot an interesting mix of quality machines. Here, we’ve put together a list of our ten favorites. So, without further ado, here they are in no particular order.

1. Dragon Slayer

shannon campbell dragon slayer 5az nitto 21

“Carbon-fiber body panels, mid-engine design, and 800 naturally-aspirated horsepower. While those features may sound like the blueprint for the latest Italian supercar, the fact is, they’re part of an all-American desert-devouring machine. It’s the brainchild of two-time King of the Hammers winner and Ultra4 National Champion Shannon Campbell. His latest build is the culmination of years racing and building knowledge.”

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2. Trophy Rat

1937 internatinal pickup northrup fab trophy rat 10

“The automotive industry is full of talented fabricators. To stand out in the pack, you must build something that’s not only visually appealing, but functional as well. Keith Northrup’s latest shop truck is designed to show off exactly what his Northrup Fabrication business is capable of building. Dubbed the "Trophy Rat" for its blend of rat-rod styling and long-travel trophy truck-like suspension, it’s a merger of two automotive worlds that rarely cross paths.”

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3. Dual-Purpose JK

2014 jeep wrangler unlimited jk evo king je reel 3

“When it comes to building a Jeep Wrangler JK, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. So long as it retains its function as a well-performing off-road vehicle, we’re all about it. Chris Kelly of Irvine, California, wanted his 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon to work well on- and off-road. While that may sound like an easy task, Kelly’s want for more extreme ‘wheeling would mean there would be some serious upgrades required to accomplish his goals.”

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4. The Family Dragon

2013 jeep wrangler unlimited jk evo loren healy moab 15

“The motorsports side of the off-road hobby has grown tremendously over the past decade. With the launch of events like King of the Hammers, it has incited a new level of technology and build theory into the ‘wheeling world. As is the case for many auto-derived competitions, the technology learned on the track eventually trickles down to the recreational side of the hobby. A great example of this can be found in Loren Healy’s 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. While the two-time King of the Hammers champion is most known for dominating the Ultra4 race series in his Red Dragon buggy, the proud husband and father of three wanted something a little more refined to take his family down the trail in. Of course, a stock Wrangler wasn’t going to cut it.”

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5. Killer K30

1985 chevy k30 offroad design moab 7

“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.”

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6. The King’s Chariot

2016 erik miller motorsports koh winning car 24

“Creativity, experience, and a serious fabrication skillset are the keys to building a vehicle tough enough to survive the hardest Ultra4 Race there is- King of the Hammers. With an extremely high attrition rate, just finishing KOH is no small feat. For 2016, Erik Miller took to the throne for the second time. While luck and talent both take a role in capturing the crown, having the right machine for the job also plays a major role. As one of only a handful of top-tier competitors running a solid-front axle race machine, Erik’s Miller Motorsports Pro Chassis continues to prove that an independent front end isn’t the only way to be fast in the desert.”

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7. The LS LJ

2005 jeep wrangler unlimited black erik miller trail grappler 16

“The 2004 to 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is one of the shortest-lived and highly sought after 4x4s Jeep ever produced. Often referred to as an LJ, the long-wheelbase Wrangler’s demand a premium due to the scarceness and high demand. If you’re looking to get one for a deal, you’ll likely need to do what Erik Miller did with his 2005 LJ – find one that’s in need of repair.”

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8. Stretch to Fit JK

013 2007 jeep wrangler jk stretch evo mud grapplers

“While the advanced electronics in the 2007 to current Wrangler platform are known to cause a little headache from time to time, it hasn’t stopped ‘wheelers from modifying the platform to extreme measures. Nearing 10 years in production, the early models of the JK are finally settling in price. This has opened up the platform for more extreme and trail-dedicated build strategies. A great example of this can be seen with Max DurJava’s 2007 Jeep Wrangler.”

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9. Spicy Chicken

001 2017 jeep wrangler evo spicy chicken nitto 9

“With his Southern California based shop Off Road Evolution, Mel Wade has made a name for himself building some of the most incredible Jeep Wrangler JKs on the planet. Using off-the-shelf parts from Wade’s EVO Manufacturing business, he is able to transform stock Jeeps into a formidable ‘wheeling machines that are still perfectly streetable.”

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10. The 5.9L TJ

001 2001 jeep wrangler tj v8 mud grapplers

“If you've ever owned a project vehicle, then you know the absolute sense of pride and accomplishment you feel once it's near completion. For Randy Crews, that blank canvas was a yellow 2001 Jeep Wrangler TJ. This would be Crews’ first Wrangler, and he wasted no time hitting the ground running. Like most, the Jeep started off with a mild lift and new tires.”

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