Project 3WD Amigo Buildup History

Nov. 01, 2005 By Todd Adams

Buildup History

I bought my Amigo in April of 1993. Wanting a reliable and off-road worthy vehicle, I had looked at all the sport utility vehicles that were available at that time. Over the years I have owned a Scout, two Landcruisers, and a Bronco. With a Bronco being my wife's car, I wanted a short wheel base smaller SUV. I decided on an Amigo before I had even test driven one for these reasons. It came equipped with 31" tires, 4.56:1 gear ratios in the differentials, and of course, good looks. I found a 1992 for sale north of Salt Lake City. None of the local dealers had any in stock. Before I took it home I had a few dealer added options installed while we took the Bronco on the 1993 Easter Jeep Safari. When we got back, the Amigo sported air conditioning, full carpets and a bug deflector. I also ordered a hard top from Fleet Air.

I did very little the first year I had it but after the 1994 Easter Jeep Safari I decided it needed some help. The first major item to install was an ARB air locker in the rear end. I also installed longer rear shackles from Confer and cranked up the torsion bars in front. I next did a 1" body lift to get the sheet metal up a little higher. I also installed a Confer 2 1/2" double tube rear bumper that doubles as an air tank. About this time I also fabricated 3/16" aluminum diamond plating to the side and rear rocker panels.

After a camping trip loaded down with everything including a kitchen sink, I decided I needed something to take care of extra loads while off-road. I fabricated mounts for Firestone air ride air bags between the frame and rear axle. This not only levels out the vehicle with a heavy load but I can lift the rear an additional 3 1/2". I installed air gauges in the dash for system air and air ride pressures, with a dash mounted control for the air ride bags.

I made a trade for a Warn M 6,000 lb. winch. I didn't want any decrease in approach angle so I opted for a removable mount. I fabricated a winch mount out of 2" steel pipe that inserts into the front frame mounts with latch pins. When removed all that can be seen is the electrical plug and two 2" holes through the front air dam. This ended up a very strong set up and has been used to extract full sized vehicles, while the rear was strapped so the little Amigo would stay put.

My wife's Bronco needed a set of tires so of course I bought a new set for my Amigo and put the slightly used Goodyear Wranglers on the Bronco. Reading all the propaganda about the new B.F.G. Moab edition tires I had to have a set. They work as advertised, and this ended up being a problem. They grip better than any tire I have used but when they slip they have a tendency to hop. We were on the Behind The Rocks Trail and trying to clime "The Dome" near the top. The aired down to 8psi Moabs started to hop (an early Bronco rolled here over this last Labor Day weekend). This is the closest I have come to rolling and I did not want a repeat. The Amigo now wears 32" B.F.G. Mud T.A.?s on 15" X 10" rims. These tires are the best for slickrock in my opinion, when they slip they do just that with out hopping. When we took the Amigo on Golden Spike Trail the first time I was very apprehensive about the "Launching Pad" but the M.T.A.s never made a sound going up and over. I still put the Moab's on during the winter as these tires are exceptional in the snow and ice.

The dash sports a mount for my Garmin GPS45 and communications are through a Motorola cell phone and President 25-10 CB. As I did in the stock shock absorbers during a high speed run over the Pony Express Trail, I installed Pro Comp RS 3000 shocks to all four corners. This just about lists all the modifications I have done. I really don't have any plans for further mod's, not wanting to add other manufacturers parts or jeopardize the great on road characteristics. But if a front locker comes my way or Mepco adds a transfer case gear set for the Amigo to add to their 4 to 1 collection I will consider it.

When I first started taking my Amigo to monthly Club runs in Moab with the Red Rock 4-Wheelers there were alot of questions on how I thought it would do on the trails. Once people saw how well it did the questions turned to what gears, lockers etc. As kind of a inside joke I put 3WD AMIGO on the windshield. This is due to my reasoning that a real 4-wheel drive has a full locking differential in each pumpkin. My wife's jeep fits in this category with 2 ARBs. Since my Amigo only has one locker in the rear, it is only a three wheel drive. I have had a lot of fun with this during the Easter Safari trails. People that are new to the sport of trail riding often come up to me during the later part of the trail to have the 3WD explained, especially after having problems on obstacles that I made look easy.

The 3WD Amigo will handle with ease all of the 4 rated trails and most of the 4+ trails with the exception of Pritchett Canyon. You can go up or down Pritchett Canyon; these pictures are of one of the canyon's tougher obstacles, the Rock Pile. If you go down Pritchett Canyon, be aware that there is also a 4+ hill to climb on the way out -- and it has no bypass. The whole trail winds through a narrow canyon, making bypasses nearly impossible. This trail really needs a rating of more than 5 but the Red Rock Four Wheeler's club rating scale's highest value is 4+. The Pritchett Canyon Trail is never-the-less the most difficult Easter Jeep Safari trail in Moab. Including the Rock Pile, I had to take a strap four times going up the canyon in the Amigo. Just a few minutes after the picture on the left was taken, a friend rolled his rig attempting to climb the Rock Pile.

This is a pair -- on some trails we use both vehicles. The primary reason for building a Jeep is that you can buy more after market products than for any other vehicle. It is fun engineering and trying out your own modifications but if you want to build an extreme trail rock crawler with little time and trouble, then Jeep is the way to go. Don't get me wrong, I am not a Jeep person and have never liked them. This goes back to time spent working on a Jeep of my father-in-laws' that I felt was poorly made and unreliable. But you can't argue with the availability of well proven crawler parts. So I will continue to drive the Amigo on the easier trails and leave the extreme for the Jeep.

Please mail Todd Adams if you want to discuss this truck or its modifications.

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