5 Best Off-Road Builds of 2018
It’s one thing to go into the wilderness. It’s another to do it in style. 2018 graced us with so many amazing off-road builds, it was hard to come down to a top five, but after some time, we were able to whittle the list down to our absolute favorites. The rigs run the gamut of purpose-built racers to overland masterpieces and budget rock crawlers. Keep scrolling to see the best off-roaders from this year.
Most people probably know Aaron Kaufman from Gas Monkey Garage, but for his new show, “Shifting Gears,” Aaron built an Ultra4 race rig and took it to King of the Hammers to compete in the marquee 4400 class. Starting out life as a ’71 International Scout, it required a full custom chassis, roll cage and suspension, yet it still looks like a classic truck. Adding to the difficulty was that they had to get it ready in only 100 days, all while being filmed for their new series, “Shifting Gears.”
Most of the time when people say, “you’ve never seen anything like it,” they’re just exaggerating to grab your attention. This time, however, we can truly say you’ve never seen anything like the Chupacabra. This insane off-roader is what happens when you take the body of a 1955 DeSoto Firedome and stick it on top of 1986 Ford F-250 chassis with a big block 460 V8 engine and 37-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers. If you ever start thinking that you could never afford an amazing off-road rig, just remember that the Chupacabra was built for only $2,200 before the new tires and rooftop tent were added.
Continuing with the budget build idea is the Crunchy Taco, a totaled Tacoma turned Moab rock crawling beast. This build outdoes the Chupacabra in the budget department, with the bill coming in at only $1600 before wheels and tires. Sure, it may not have the same level of aesthetic refinement as the last two builds, but it gets the job done—and there’s something so satisfying about a stripped-down truck like this. It takes off-roading back to the basics.
Overlanding became a major trend in 2018, and the Alpha Van sits at its pinnacle. While most overlanders go for a fifth-gen 4Runner, Chad Christy decided to use a 7.3L Power Stroke-equipped E-350 van. Just because it wasn’t initially designed for off-roading doesn’t mean it stayed that way. Christy swapped in a Ujoint Offroad 4x4 conversion kit with Nitto Ridge Grapplers, to go along with all the other interior and exterior upgrades. If you want to go someplace somewhere off-road and stay there, this is the van for the job.
It’s one thing to take a Humvee off-road. It’s another to give it enough upgrades to make taking it off-road pleasant. The first priority was upgrading the engine. Owner Tim Odell went with a 5.9L Cummins, bumping the horsepower up to 400 and torque to 650 lb-ft. The inside saw quite a bit of work as well, with upgraded seats, a new steering wheel and better gauges. Even the doors saw an upgrade, being swapped out for 3/16-inch aluminum ones.