Off-road builds come in all shapes and sizes. It wasn’t so long ago that the craziest thing you’d see would be a metalflake purple sand rail with fuzzy dice and a train horn. These days, the ante is being upped by the likes of Rugged Radios, and the off-road world is better for it.
The name of this build is the “Rugged ’32.” Car-movie-fan readers may remember American Graffiti, the seminal 1973 classic all about youth in the early ’60s. Well, the Rugged ’32 is indeed based on that yellow coupe that John Milner (Paul Le Mat) drives around in for much of the film, but it’s got a little secret – it’s actually a UTV, built by NVFab in Grover Beach, California.
“I’ve always wanted to build something like this,” said Rugged Radios president Greg Cottrell. “And since we wanted something unique for the TV Show Destination Polaris — it couldn’t have worked out better. Everything about this build just came together so well. It’s a beautiful machine that actually performs, I mean really performs!”
At its core, the Rugged ’32 is a full-frame build with an extra foot of length, all while retaining the suspension and motor mounting points. The “engine” viewable from the front is a simple replica of a 350 SBC, which is actually the gas tank; the real powerplant is still the ProStar 1000cc two-cylinder that comes with the RZR from the factory. Rugged Radios went ahead and kicked it up a notch, however, by adding a BoonDockers turbocharger that increased the output to 200 hp.
Some other features of the Rugged ’32 are a Safecraft fire suppression system, a Legacy Products soft top, a custom PRP bench seat with four-point harnesses, a six-point roll cage, and KC HiLiTES lights. The suspension is a Ruffstuff design by winning Ultra4 racer Shannon Campbell, and uses Walker Evans 2.5-inch-diameter coilover shocks with 10 inches of travel. The wheels and tires are 15-inch Raceline chrome smoothies, with 31-inch BFGoodrich KR2s for trails and 31-inch GMZ Sand Stripper paddle tires for the dunes. And last but not least, Rugged Radios fitted the UTV with its own RRP660 Bluetooth intercom for passenger conversation, as well as a RM-25 UHF/VHF radio to talk to other vehicles.
On the whole, the Rugged ’32 is a badass, fun-having machine that we wish we could take out for a spin. Maybe get in a sand drag with some random who says we need to “let the funeral go by?” We’ll show him!