Introducing Kyle Irvin, Winner of the 4 Wheel Parts Facebook Dream Upgrade Contest – Part 1January 27th, 2011 by admin
I think if I give you an introduction of me and my truck, you will see where I am having trouble deciding on what to upgrade. My name is Kyle Irvin and I live in Tulsa, OK. We don’t have a 4 Wheel Parts here in town, so I do most of my shopping online, in Oklahoma City or in Dallas when I visit family. As you well know, us off-roaders have a lengthy list of upgrades we want, but when we actually get the money it becomes a ridiculous process of researching, planning, finding a better option, doing more research, trying to convince yourself it is the best plan and then actually pulling the trigger.
I have been building off road trucks and Jeeps since I turned 16 in Dallas, 1996. My first truck was a 1991 Toyota Ext Cab short bed pickup 4cyl manual 4×4 w/ 33″ BFG Mud Terrain tires and a 3″ body lift. Back then, that was a relatively large tire for a street vehicle. It was also heavily covered in chrome, as was the trend back then. I had 7 chrome KCs, nerf bars, rear roll bar, front push guard, and a slew of smaller accessories I purchased from the store near downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, that truck was totaled in 1997 by a Ford Thunderbird; to this day, I still have an aversion to Thunderbirds.
The next vehicle I bought was a 1994 GMC Jimmy 2 door 4×4 V6 automatic. I bought 31″ tires, a small lift, and a front brush guard from the same store. Unfortunately, again, I totaled that truck hitting a tree when I was off-roading in spring 1998. My folks decided a car was more in tune with my needs at that point…sigh.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I got myself another off-road vehicle: a 1978 Jeep CJ7 Renegade Levi Edition V8 manual. I loved that Jeep! I started working at a local Jeep shop in Dallas and slowly made upgrades. Our shop purchased most of our products from the Dallas 4 Wheel Parts, so I was able to afford many more upgrades: Painless Wiring harness, 4″ Superlift suspension kit, 35″ BFG Mud Terrains, steel Rock Crawler chrome rims, Bestop Supertop, dual batteries, front double tube bumper, and a number of engine upgrades to my AMC 304 V8 that was rebuilt. We also built a custom rear spare tire carrier and bumper, swapped in 1983 widetrac axles, Moser 1-piece rear shafts, a custom diamond plate dash w/VDO gauges, Borgeson steering, and custom double-sleeved drag link and center links. I got to know many of the guys down at that store on a first name basis and learned a lot of helpful knowledge about products and modifications. Here’s where the story gets sad though; my off-road ego took over and I started to make plans that were too big for my wallet.
I had bought a cheap beater car to drive while I made upgrades to the Jeep. I started selling off parts that weren’t a part of my future plans in order to get enough money together to make the modifications I wanted. First, the widetrac axles were sold in order to purchase a set of Unimog axles, so the Jeep became stationary at that point. I learned a very important lesson here: planning is everything! I found out that the Unimog axles wouldn’t fit without lengthening the frame, so I bought a YJ frame and lengthened it to 10″. Looking back, every step after that was purely idiotic. I sold everything except the Unimog axles, frame, tub, and title thinking I would one day resurrect my Jeep into a monster. Alas, it never happened.
Check out my next post to see what happened to my Jeep when I joined the Marines and where I went from there.