Today we look at a very special vehicle. The Nitro Gear & Axle buggy was originally envisioned as a family friendly wheeler and a great promotional tool for the business. Designed and built over a couple years it’s proven itself useful in many ways and has never failed to draw a crowd either in a booth or on a trail. This build was taken on with the same thought process we use when building ring and pinions, axleshafts and other differential components. Only the very best quality would do and the standard would be kept high from start to finish.
Christopher Dye at DC Custom Fab in Washington built the CAD designed 1.75″x.120 DOM chassis with the intent of creating a highly functional rig capable of comfortably supporting 4 people for a day on the trail. This was never intended to be a racing chassis so no compromises for the interior needed to be made. Heated seats, functional dash heat and a waterproof stereo and speakers help on those cold morning wheeling trips in the Northwest where we are located.
Under the hood resides a built aluminum 6.0L LS motor running Mast MotorSports cam, valvetrain components and fuel injection. Hooker block hugger headers connect to a mandrel bent ceramic coated 3″ exhaust system and out through a Magnaflow muffler. Shifting duties are handled by a full manual valve body 4L60E connected to a twin stick 3.0 Atlas 2 T-case. Custom driveshafts sport 1350 U-joints at the T-case and monster 1480 joints at the forged Nitro pinion yokes. Currently tuned to about 530HP the buggy only weighs about 3600lbs making it very responsive in the rocks and downright fast running in desert conditions.
No surprise the axles under this buggy are serious. Spider 9 housings reside under both ends, with Ultimate Knuckles up front and a full float setup in the rear. 14″ Spidertrax rotors and Wilwood calipers provide stopping power for the 40″ Nitto Mud Grapplers. Inside the Spidertrax housings are Nitro 6061 Billet Aluminum 10″ drop outs running 10″ trophy truck gears mounted to a Nitro spool in the rear and a Detroit Locker up front. Nitro 35 spline chomoly axles with alloy Nitro Excalibur U-Joints finish off the impressive assemblies.
One off double beadlocks are turned by a full PSC hydro steering system mounted on a custom reinforced truss up front. Suspension is also from DC Custom Fab with 4 link front and rear utilizing machined aluminum links featuring “Nitro” script. 2.5″ King dual rate IBP Coilovers control the axles and offer race level adjustability as needed. 2.0″ Radflo bumps and a Currie Anti Rock sway bar finish off the suspension.
A narrowed aftermarket JK fiberglass hood and grill top the motor with aluminum bodywork covering the rest of the fabricated chassis and frame. Custom paint was then applied followed by airbrushed graphics to give the buggy a level of finish more common in street rods than in rigs that leave the pavement. Inside that level of attention continues with a custom aluminum dashboard, PRP buckets up front, PRP bench in the rear and full PRP race harnesses throughout.
Skidplates completely protect from engine to t-case, mild boatsides improve clearance in the rocks and sliding over obstacles is easily done. Rigid light bars grace the roof and front bumper along with a Warn competition winch that can be used for recovery or to suck in the front axle on big climbs. Fuel is via a custom 17 gallon tank flanked by a similar sized lockable toolbox.
Overall this buggy has been a fantastic ambassador for the Nitro brand, very capable, great looking and a ton of fun off the pavement it’s proven a 4 seat buggy can crawl just fine with the whole family onboard.