5 Strangely Cool Off-Road Vehicles
The “FC” stands for “forward control” – which means, in this case, that this particular Jeep has a cab-over design. Jeep produced these vehicles from 1956 to 1965, and they were useful for a variety of civilian and military duties. They came with a regular pickup box, but customers could choose to have the bed modified to allow the truck to work as a dump truck or fire truck, for example. Offered engines included an inline-four and an inline-six cylinder and a V-8, and three- and four-speed manual transmissions were available, along with a three-speed automatic. The FC’s off-road chops came from its four-wheel drive and its Jeep/Willys heritage, including the stout chassis.
The Baja Bug is an off-road-ready version of the classic Volkswagen Beetle, and you can still find them on racecourses and dunes across the country today. Except they were never a factory-made version – Baja Bugs are built using conversion kits. Inspired by the Meyers Manx, Beetle owners began lifting their cars to better handle sand dunes, deserts and beaches during the ‘60s and the ‘70s. Miller-Havens did offer a fiberglass body kit starting in 1969, and a factory concept was under development in 1972, and it apparently was registered in the U.K. five years later.
Produced from 1992 through 2006, the civilian version of the military Humvee offered several body styles, including pickup truck and wagon, and gas and diesel V-8 engine choices. Its off-road abilities came from an unusually wide track, inboard brakes, a central tire-inflation system, high-mounted air intake and radiator, and tires that had the ability to run flat. Thanks to its military background, the Hummer was one tough rig, and its ability to ford 30 inches of water, along with a stock 16-inch ground clearance, make it desirable for tackling even the toughest of trails.
Hard to find in North America (although Freightliner sold some in the U.S. and Canada) but more plentiful across the pond and in other parts of the world is the Unimog. Unimogs have become a little more visible lately with the growth of overland-style off-roading here in the U.S. With a design dating back to World War II, the Unimog, which is produced by Daimler division Mercedes-Benz, offers off-road-ready features like portal axles. A flexible frame also allows for more range of movement from the tires, and drivers sit up high, giving them a commanding view of the terrain ahead. Current models are powered by a turbocharged diesel four-cylinder that puts out 664 pound-feet of torque. That’s a lot of grunt.
Local Motors Rally Fighter
The Local Motors Rally Fighter has appeared in Hollywood movies, but perhaps the coolest thing about it is that it’s built by group source – essentially each buyer builds his or her own with factory assistance. While it has rear-wheel drive, it’s raised higher than a normal car and fitted with off-road friendly tires and suspension, and under the hood is a GM 6.2-liter V8 that makes 430 horsepower and pairs to a four-speed automatic transmission. Custom options are available, of course. The Rally Fighter has been built since 2007, and if you have the means (the starting price is just under $100K) and the time to participate in the build of your vehicle, you may end up with one of the coolest rigs around – and one of the most rare.
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