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Gear: 6 cool big-wheelers

13 June 2016

You get big wheels. Then you get bigger wheels. And then… well, you get those “oh my goodness” kind of rims and tyres that seemingly make no sense at all, but that are uber cool. In light of such “oh my goodness”, we found six big-wheeled monsters that we’d really like to park in our garages.

When you talk wheels, bigger is always better, right? Take ‘donking’ for instance: A popular international car-culture obsessed with adding ridiculously big wheels to otherwise standard vehicles. Proportion and discretion are not words found in the donking handbook.

To most mortals, these vehicles look, well, ridiculous. To the donkers though, they are works of art, to be admired and shown off at every opportunity. We like bigger-wheeled 4×4s, but we also like some proportion, common sense and practicality in the mix. Mostly, anyway. So we went on an interweb search for six cool big-wheelers… ones that are ‘wow’ but that are usable and practical.

Here we go with some overcompensating four-wheelers that are sure to make heads turn.

1. Iron Revenge


Front tyres that stand 1.35m high. Rear tyres that are almost 1.4m high. And 231kW of turbodiesel power matched with a 4WD drivetrain. Meet the biggest double cab production, er… bakkie. In the world.

It all started in 2005 when International Truck & Engine put a pick-up loadbed on to one of 4×4 chassis cab load haulers. Apparently it was more for giggles than anything else, but the response from the market was so huge that a 4×4 production version soon landed up on showroom floors.In time, US company Magicmotorsport bought one with the aim of towing heavy equipment.

But one day someone said: “Hey y’all! Why don’t we make them big trucks even bigger!” So it got a suspension lift, bigger off-road tyres and a winch that could pull the Blue Train. It is powered by a 7.6-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces 230kW of power, and the grunt is transferred to the wheels via a heavy-duty five-speed automatic gearbox.

International also made sure the world’s biggest ‘bakkie’ is a cut above the rest when it comes to driving comfort. On the inside, this 6.5-ton behemoth gets wood trim, leather aplenty, thick-pile carpeting, limo lighting, DVD system and a high-end audio system. In the States you can buy a stock double cab SXT for around R1.7-million. But that’s with the standard 22-inch wheels, which is really just not, well, big enough.

2. Jeep Wrangler Trailcat


Mirror, mirror on the wall… how much power can you squeeze into a Jeep Wrangler engine bay? 527kW! Yep, that’s right – 527kW! Meet the Jeep Wrangler Trailcat, which Jeep’s Mopar team put together for this year’s Moab Easter Safari in the USA. They did this by borrowing the Dodge Charger Hellcat’s supercharged V8 engine and fitting it in the Wrangler Unlimited engine bay after lengthening the chassis by 30cm. They hooked the 527kW motor up to a six-speed manual gearbox that transfers all them horses to all four wheels.

It also has 40-inch BFGoodrich Krawler tyres, a Fox suspension system and a two-inch lift (60mm lift), Dana 60 axles front and rear, a windscreen that had 60mm chopped off the top, a custom bonnet, LED lights and rock rails all round. Sadly this 707 horsepower beast is just a one-off special created by the enthusiastic Mopar lads. If you’re an oil baron, though, they’ll probably build you one.

3. Toyota 4Runner Tonka    


Ever wished you could have a full-size version of your favourite toy 4×4 lorry? Well, that’s exactly what Tonka, manufacturer of model cars, did with a Toyota 4Runner (it bats in the same class as the local Fortuner).

This 4Runner features a 260mm suspension lift and upgrade, combined with 38-inch mud terrain rubber. It stands so high off the ground, most drivers will have to use a trampoline to get into it. Power comes courtesy of a standard four-litre V6 petrol engine that produces 201kW and 376Nm of torque – it’s the same unit that does service in our Fortuners, FJ Cruisers and Cruiser Pickups. This is a show vehicle, built specially for the 2015 SEMA show in Las Vegas, USA.

You won’t be able to buy one from your nearest Toyota dealer. And that’s a real shame, we reckon.

4 .Mercedes-Benz Unimog Design Concept


In 2011, Mercedes celebrated 60 years of its famous Unimog. To commemorate the event, Merc’s designers came up with a rather unique vehicle reminiscent of the poison dart frog that lives in the tropical forests in Central and South America.

The design is based on the production Unimog U5000 chassis and drivetrain, so it has a massive 476mm of ground clearance, the brand’s renowned portal axles and long-travel suspension, a 4.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that delivers 160kW and 810Nm of torque, and a limited top speed of 100km/h.

The one-off concept vehicle (yep, it’s a pity it will never be reproduced) features only two seats, no doors and a targa design in place of a traditional roof, with wrap-around bars. The wheels are 24-inch rims with Dunlop 455/70 R24 mud terrain tyres.

5. Smart Forfun2
You can park a Smart Fortwo


sideways in a standard parking bay, and it will fit. Yes, it’s small. If you are Greek 4×4 champion Stefan Attart though, a Smart Fortwo is just the 4×4 ticket you are looking for. Attart decided to build a super-duper Fortwo, and it all started with a Mercedes Unimog 406 chassis.

The legendary 406 is powered by a 5.7-litre six-cylinder diesel engine, so there’s plenty of low-down grunt to make light work of the 1.4m high tyres. There’s also a massive 650mm of ground clearance, and the vehicle stands 3.7m tall.

To further enhance its off-road ability, the Forfun2 rides on special shock absorbers with a trick air suspension – the driver can manually control individual springs from the cabin. Only the one Forfun2 was ever made, and you’d need to be Donald Trump to afford it.

6. DM-Chevrolet DeLorean


Arguably one of the more iconic cars to ever appear on the silver screen, the DMC DeLorean, as featured in the Back to the Future franchise, did one thing brilliantly capture the imagination.

Today, its stint as a time-machine is over and it travelled back to the current realms of time, only to become a monster truck. The recipe is seemingly simple as a chassis from a Chevrolet K5 Blazer was used, a DeLorean aluminium body and a 5.7-litre V8 engine fitted in the back. And it’s all rounded-off with big, burly wheels.

Its creator, the not-so-mad Rich Weissensel, claims that he only sourced parts from scrapyards in order to build this cool blast from the past.


  • Busang Motsepeng

    A standard Unimog is sufficient for me.