Home / Social media / Cars / Building The Ultimate Off-Road Tow Rig – The Suburban Gorilla


What happens when you need an off-road towing powerhouse? Well, if you're Xtreme 4x4, then you build yourself the Suburban Gorilla, the ultimate off-road tow rig.

This is a throwback to the early 2000's when Xtreme 4x4 was one of the best television shows, with hosts Ian Johnson and Jessi Combs. Now, you may recognise the latter as she made appearances on various motoring shows until as recently as 2018. Sadly, she passed away on 27 August 2019 while breaking the land speed record in a jet-powered car in Oregon. Legend.

With that in mind, we take a look at one of the best projects they worked on from way back, the Suburban Gorilla. This started life as a $600 Suburban farm truck that was turned into the ultimate off-road tow rig.

Inspired by the Hummer H1, the old Suburban received a comprehensive overhaul. They chucked out the tired old petrol drivetrain, replacing it with a powerful 6.6-litre diesel Duramax motor and custom-built transfer cases.

They then dropped in twin-turbos and custom fuel cells, plus two winches and a 40-gallon steel gas tank. The custom steel body with fibreglass doors and hood was measured out and mounted to the modified frame from the Suburban, while a new set of heavy-duty shocks replaced the factory setup.

Then, it's time for wheels, tyres, paint and electrics installation. The result? One badass off-roader! This beast could tow mountains. It's easy to see why this show was so popular back then because it's so comprehensive. There were very few other shows like it at the time, and they make it look easy too. It's also fun to see the sheer lack of concern for safety, with no safety belts, or the environment as it spews plumes of black smoke under loaded driving.

It's also terrific to look back to the start of a career in motoring for Jessi and Ian. While Jessi left the show after four years, Ian remained the host for over 14-years, eventually departing from the show in 2018. He is now the host of Four Wheeler on the MotorTrend App and is synonymous in the aftermarket 4x4 game.

This is an excellent, albeit long, video. So, if you have a couple of hours on hand, then this is a great way to spend it. Maybe it'll inspire you to build your own towing rig too.

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