On July 5, 2018 a team of five of us got together and decided to build a mutant vehicle. Initial requirement was that the base vehicle be towable on the existing tandem trailer that Jackhammr owns.
Vehicles considered were a Toyota pickup, Tacoma, 4Runner, Chevrolet S-10, Ford Ranger, and Jeep Cherokee.
After some debate about what makes a good small truck base to carry 10 – 12 people at 5 MPH, the following requirements were added:
- 2 x 4, a four wheel drive vehicle is more parts and more maintenance and does not provide enough extra low end torque to make the extra maintenance worthwhile
- Midsize pickup truck, a midsize truck provides a towable yet load-bearing base to work with. An equivalent SUV could be acceptable, however a pickup truck body will be easier to separate and mutate.
- Xtra cab, any extra cab, double cab or long bed options will provide a longer wheelbase to work with. The Ford Ranger extra cab wheelbase goes up to 125.6”.
- Maximum 200,000 miles, the expected life of most of the small to midsize truck engines is about 300,000 miles. A vehicle having less than 200,000 miles would be ideal.
- Automatic transmission, given that most of the usage will be at 5 – 20 MPH with frequent stops at a high load capacity, an automatic transmission will be easier to drive and will not be a risk of burning up a clutch due to usage and load.
We also determined the initial upgrades we would need to make:
- Air Bag Suspension, add air bag suspension to increase cargo capacity of the base vehicle.
- Convert Air Conditioning Compressor to Air Compressor, to fill suspension air bags, etc.
- Smaller Wheels, decrease the wheel size to increase low end torque and slightly lower the vehicle.
- Electric Radiator Fan, as the vehicle will be used almost always at lower speeds.
- High Output Alternator, for 12v audio system and other 12v DC powered items..