While rifling through the Four Wheeler archives one night, we turned the page to find a rig reminiscent of a John Deere tractor. From the paintjob to the 44-inch agriculture tires, it had us fooled for a few seconds, but further inspection led us to the Toyota badge and the iconic FJ40 grille. Bobby Long, of Graham, Washington, is used to quizzical eyes aimed at his rig, typically followed by questions like “Where can I buy one like this?” He usually replies, “You can’t.” In the May 1995 issue of Four Wheeler, he told us the story of his John Deere Mudder.
Bobby wanted to wheel the heinously muddy trails of the Cascade Range without the fear of breaking parts or getting stuck around every turn, all while staying within the confines of his ’66 FJ40 Land Cruiser platform. He maintained the body, frame, and suspension of the original ‘Cruiser, but he tailored nearly every other aspect of the rig to his needs. The stock engine came out and in went a 383ci V-8 from a ’71 Charger, which sent its 250 horses to the four-speed manual transmission that Bobby lifted from a ’66 Dodge pickup. Rounding out the powertrain, a 6×6 Power Wagon Weapons Carrier donated its 2.50:1 transfer case to Bobby’s mud project. Suspension upgrades were kept simple with a pair of Rancho RS5000 shocks at each corner and a spring-over axle conversion.
To keep the machine riding high through the mud, Bobby visited a tractor dealer for a set of 24×12.4-inch Banana Yellow John Deere wheels, around which he stretched his mud paddles—44×12.4-inch All-Traction Field & Road tires. Junkyard-sourced Dana 70 axles, 2-ton Ford axleshafts, and 5.88:1 gears hold and turn the big tires, which are kept at 35 psi and contribute to Bobby’s 48-inch fording depth. Bobby also did some custom work to keep mud out of the rig’s cooling, breathing, and stopping systems. He moved the rig’s radiator to the rear and covered it with John Deere-themed stretch plate to protect it from brush and relocated the air intake to beneath the dashboard. The transfer case output shaft is home to a drum brake, which stays high and clear of mud.
The John Deere Mudder was built so Bobby could hose it down inside and out, with no-frills diamond plating accenting the regulation green paint and yellow Deere decals, and there’s a quartet of rugged bucket seats for passenger containment. The rollcage and bumpers are both custom-built, and the frontend is fitted with a Warn 9,000-pound winch. Recovery gear includes a 20,000-pound-rated towstrap, shovel, and a trail axe. Bobby’s John Deere Mudder lacks a few details that would make it street legal; however, what it lacks in turn signals, it makes up for in sludge-slaying capability.
We want to hear about your purpose-built rigs. Whether it’s farm tires for clearance, a custom paintjob, or mud-dominating mods, tell us about your machine, and make sure to include high-resolution photos when you email firstname.lastname@example.org.