The Grand Tracker (Retard TT)


Well-known member
Apr 1, 2022
Since DR is dead, ill move my build right on over here. Thanks for the site guys!!

Originally had a 2000 GMC 1500 4.3 5 speed RC/SB when i first started driving. had a mad passion to build a prerunner out of it and got half way there through high school. put a velocity fab front LT kit on, renagade suspension seats in it, built my first tube bumper, 35's, OG walker evan true beadlocks, 4.10 gears and eaton e locker. rear was just 2" lift blocks and blown fabtech white body shocks. id still hit the whoops in the cinders at 50mph with 0 fucks given


Eventually sold that sophmore year of college. i put a ton of miles on it driving back and forth from Flagstaff az to phx and back. bought my dads 02 dmax and that sent me down a diesel performance hole ive never gotten back out of.

in the midst of all that, i needed a wheeler as a crew cab long bed diesel aint the best for sedona crawling (circa 2008ish). dad had a 92 samurai that needed work (blown HG) so i fixed it all up and was used as my weekend wheeler during college.

kept it till 2014. it eventually got toyota axles, elocker rear, detroit front, 5.29's, 35's, yj leafs, 6.5:1 t-case, older model trans for taller 5th gear, built 1.3 with 1.6 head and custom cam, KO3s turbo, added a full interior to it, and daily drove this fucker when it was under 100*. Also had a rzr 800s at the time and sold it to buy our first toy hauler so i was missing desert speed and the dunes....


Like said, sold it in 2014 and plan was to build a rock buggy that could double as a dune cruiser. found one i wanted but the price was just out of reach to finish building it. I did always have this idea of building a suzuki grand vitara though.... 2nd gen suzuki junk was not readily built at the time and thought it would be cool to do something different. i knew their weaknesses so that kinda kept me away untill i found a CL ad for one in payson. 700 bucks for it running and driving. My wife could not understand why the hell i bought a grandma car. i said "juuuuust wait".

im going to speed the build process up a bit on this as i have a 78 page build on a private forum. im not detailing this sum bitch out lol.

i spent a full 3 weeks in the garage. all day on the weekends and every day after work working on it. Many JY runs, new engine parts (2.5's love to eat timing chains), and during all this, i needed to lift it. i cut the frame just in front of the firewall, moved it forward 4" and down 4.5", then plated and welded back in. this kept CV angles stock, gave me firewall clearance for 35's, and lifted the bitch. rear got just a 3.5" spacer. cheapy 31's and 15's i found. god damn it was ugly but better than before.

12 hours after that photo, we headed for our first trail ride from wickenburg to prescott, then highway back. Holy shit was it a pleasure to drive over the samurai. Wife and i were not wore the fuck out by days end for once. by this point it had 4.24:1 t-case gears, 5.13 axle gears, rear locker, my home brew lift, and 31's. it was dubbed the "grand tracker" since i put chevy trakcer body parts on it and its a grand vitara under it.

Next stage was finish work. Got the a/c back working, front hood and fender painted, plastidiped the side panels, used MTR 33x12.50 15s on fake beadlocks, steel front diff housing, samurai locker in the front diff and other crap im forgetting

went through a few renditions of front bumpers before i finally decided on a prerunner style. Little insite on this. in Nov of 15, we had our first kiddo. This put a major slow down on tracker progress as i had to learn to not be in the garage 24/7 (god that sucked). when she turned 3 months, had some family friends ask if we wanted to do a run from sheeps bridge and back. i talked my wife into it and brought the kiddo. we kept up with the rzr's ok but it was a bit rough in the back on that rough road. as i talked to my wife, i said "ya know, its been so damn long since we last desert raced and i had a prerunner, would you be against me turning this into one?" she asked "would it ride better back here?" i said "absolutely". i was then granted permission to do as i pleased on this shit box... she had no idea what that entailed lol.

put rock sliders, front bumper with winch and rear bumper with self swinging tire gate on



Then it was planning time for rear end work. front end had different struts that gave me 10" of travel after doing a reverse spacer kit on the struts but back end just wasnt keeping up. id also blown up 2 rear axles and 3 front cv axles by this point.
Rear end was broke in December of 2016 and decided i wasnt going to touch it without upgrading it. Picked up a ford 8.8 from a 2000 f150, rebuilt it with 5.13's, spartan locker, new bearings, brakes, and re-drilled the axle bolt pattern to 5x5.5 (totally forgot they went 5x135 or what ever after 95). it was going to get a 3 link 14" coilovers, hydro bumps, and valved to be beat on.



2" .250 wall DOM links, 1.5" .250 panhard bar. that was fun to bend


sweet overlay plates bro....


first time on her own weight


Anyhow, shocks are kinda in a falling rate but axle rotates as its compressed so its mitigated, 2.0 shocks so smallish, and its never gunna work. bye bye bus load of nuns...

promtply took it on a 200 mile dirt exploration trip with 150 miles of asphault in there. had to prerun my phx to laughlin route i had wanted to do for a long time. little did i know it would be years before we actually ran it as a full trip. no issues on this prerun trip other than it needed more valving and more spring. miles ahead of the stockish setup.





i started aquiring front end parts from there. got a frame section from another GV, lenghtened a set of calimini arms 3", ford exploder IRS diff for the front, and other junk. plan is 4" over front end (arm pivot points have been moved out 1" as well), dtich front 1.5" wheel spacers so only 2.5" wider overall, 2.5" coilover, 2.5" bypass, 2" hydrobump, build an UCA, run 930 outer non plunging cv with custom stub shaft, 930 inner plunging cv and adapters from 930 driveflanges to ford 8.8 31spline stubs. This has been the longest area of progression because.... ADHD

went to mexico at one point and liquid liberations caused me to think we were racing the baja, so 50mph through whoops sounded great... till it bent the frame and a strut, ass end had no issues. down time for that to fix it and plate it. then other bull shit in the mix, then another trip to mexico and i decided to add sway away 2.5" 8" stroke shocks on the front to help the front end keep up. worked better but needed more valving work. Eventually got that settled and could hammer through decent sized quad/bike whoops, this was discovered on the first trip i went on with Rouse, beaumont, tyler, and others. beaumont said he never laughed so hard watching "mini beams" cycling like a mother fucker as we hammered through the whoops.


also changed to 86-95 toyota pickup cv axles. suppose to be stronger... yet to be seen but i feel the issue is too much steering angle compared to toyotas. still yet to fix that.

over that couple years, i added custom ground cams (this fucker takes 4), put new HG on (didnt need them but it was a "might as well"), changed valve stem seals so it quit burning oil, put a rear main seal in, another timing chain and guides, and basically resealed the entire engine. it had 235 or 240k miles on it at the time with original trans and engine. ive beat the shit out of them and they dont even care.

So naturally in my ADHD mind, i needed more power and i love boost. i justified this due to us moving from phx to northern area called new river. 1100ft climb in elevation in one direction and 4th gear was of no use with a/c on in 110* heat. fan was loud, exhaust was loud, and i was cranky from it. turbos are great mufflers and the drop in rpm kept the fan noise down lmao

turbo and intercooler set in place

all done

think that took 2 or 3 weeks all together. one day on weekends, rest every other day in the garage after work. I had an AEM FIC 6 in there but the internal map promptly died. switched to just straight FMU for added fueling and kept boost at 5psi. went to silverton co a week later and my god was it nice to have boost! this thing was gutless before even in 4 low. 2nd gear wot at the tops of passes was all it had, now im burning up hills in 3rd at part throttle.

and finally, after what had been 4 years of planning, prerunning, shut downs, and stress, i finally got the phx to laughlin trip going. i was worried this shit box was not going to have the suspension to keep the big dogs rolling at a good pace so i set a decent pace. little did i know, that wasnt going to be an issue lol. Rolling along next WTK in his white trash trophy truck down a dirt road at 90mph will forever be a highlight for me on that trip. 560 miles, 95% dirt, and some of the best times, best views, best group ive had the pleasure of rolling with.




That pretty much brings us up to date. ive not been hard after the LT front end cause well... i got the current front end working pretty well but the CV's breaking are pissing me off so the front end will get done once my shop is up (currently in the process of being built). as for boost, i got another AEM back in the rig not too long ago and have finally got tuning fairly squared away. Shes running about 7-8psi with a goal of around 10psi all said and done while on 91. id estimate i added 100ish hp from stock, actually blows the tires off in dirt now when before you were lucky to even disturb dirt lol.
Do you have any videos of this? I remember from an old trip report that it was way faster then anyone thought it'd be out in the dirt!
yeah lemme find them. its a sleeper for sure. everyone butt puckers when i take them for a first ride through whoops or bad washouts lmao

this was about 30 or so when i first got the SAW's on the front and got valving better. no turbo either so she pretty much giving all shes got.

mexico pre-SAW's on the front

Shes only gotten faster and better since all that. i have another valving change i want to do to the front end that i may get to this weekend. Where i live now, i can hit geiser loop on the way home from work and play on the kickers or launch the road. there is also a good drop out off pioneer road ill hit at about 60 and land to flat. probably 2-2.5ft drop off and never bottoms. Couple little jumps off new river road ill take the kids on when we are headed back from dinner or somewhere, they get a big kick out of that. i just never have anyone around to video and trying to place the camera in a good spot to film hardly ever works out
Bosch stocker fuel pump wasnt keeping up at 9psi so DW200 went in

Had to trim the feed a little bit for the taller pump

Shit you don’t see anymore, made in USA Jose clamps!

Ready to rock

Turned the rig around and started on steering limiters. Found she’s at 35* full crank. [mention]dsrtrcr01 [/mention]
hooked a brotha up on what a 86-95 toy pickup sees for max angle. They are 27*. So I pulled mine back to about 25* full lock. See how that works out

Took some 7075 and turned some stops for the rack. Just goes between inner tie rod and uses the rack housing to stop. Stops about 1/2” of travel



Pulled a couple bolts from the front cv adapters and threw loctite on them. Bitches were loose

Moved onto front shock valving. Needed more low speed out of them. I’ve got no more .020 1.65 dia shims for the flexy rate plate buuuuut, I got a motha fuckin lathe. Took the .9 dia, .100 thick shim that’s under the double stack .020 1.65 flexy rate plate and made a new 1.05 dia .100 thick shim to go in its place. That should stiffen them .020’s up.

Also closed up the rate plate more. Went from .028 clearance from cover shim to double .020 to .026.



Took the wife and kids on a quick rip to some Indian ruins not far from the house. Gunna take some getting use to the steering limiters but hot damn that valving change was nice! Seems like a good change but we will hit some shit harder without the fam in there.




Grabbed some sonic blasts afterward to toast to a successful day

Next day after work, took it out to some speed areas with jumps and hard hit areas. night and day difference there. i gained much more speed and confidence coming into shitty areas. Got the turbo tuned back in for the fuel pump as well. I do need to cut some of the steering stops down though. i need to re-measure but it came out closer to 23* of turning angle. didnt think that would be too big of an issue but my god has it neutered the fuck out of the turning radius. ill get it closer to 27*
So I guess i'm a little confused about what you turned down on the lathe to add stiffness as a rate plate?

Can you elaborate?
So I guess i'm a little confused about what you turned down on the lathe to add stiffness as a rate plate?

Can you elaborate?

under the .020 flexy rate plate is a .9 dia x .100 thick washer before the hard 1.65 x .125 thick rate plate. i made a new washer that is 1.05" dia so it effectively adds more clamping force to the double .020 flexy rate plate.
under the .020 flexy rate plate is a .9 dia x .100 thick washer before the hard 1.65 x .125 thick rate plate. i made a new washer that is 1.05" dia so it effectively adds more clamping force to the double .020 flexy rate plate.
Ok, makes sense. I was thinking you were turning down the rate plate itself. My bad.
Ok, makes sense. I was thinking you were turning down the rate plate itself. My bad.

lol no but im getting to the point i might ditch the flexy rate plate and just run the hard rate plate. not the best idea but aaron ran that on his ranger for a long ass time till he put bypasses on it. i think it will be the better way for my limited travel, im just working my way up to it.
Yeah. Brian Metcho was all about Rate Plates. For just a Coilover set up. They make a lot of sense. It'll add some harshness to the big bumps but it's not over whelming.
Yeah. Brian Metcho was all about Rate Plates. For just a Coilover set up. They make a lot of sense. It'll add some harshness to the big bumps but it's not over whelming.
id be ok with that. ive got all 3 bleeds out and a flutter under the comp's cover shim. so its a flutter + rate plate setup that then hits the flexy rate plate to the hard rate plate. its really overly complicated for 10" of wheel travel but i ahve to contend with a strut that has digressive valving and it basically only handles high speed. Comp stack looks like the below. Ive found my motion ratio wants me to keep the cover shim to flexy rate plate close together. it seems shock shaft speeds are far slower than what aaron was running so what i was thinking was "sketchy zones" is really finally starting to make changes. i shoulda known that because 20" of travel on a beam truck with different motion ration cant just drop over. i was jsut being overly cautious it seems. Kinda why im thinking about ditching the flexy rate plate and going just the hard rate plate. Or maybe ill just cut the .100 thick spacer in 1/2 ( i might have enough 1.05" shims to make .050 on each side). its finally keeping up with rear end though!

piston - all bleeds out
________________ 1.65 x .008
____ .90 x .008
____________ 1.35 x .008
_________ 1.20 x .010
________________ 1.65 x .020
________________ 1.65 x .020
______ 1.05 x .100
________________ 1.65 x .125

300psi in the resi with short can resi's
No one wants to make upgraded 86-95 toyota cv's? fuck you then, ill make my own

started at marlin crawler birfield for a straight axle. Now a 86-95 toyota outer cv. left abundance of weld because "test cv" and i dont really care to spend another 30 min on the lathe cleaning it up or possibly weakening the weld


So rad dude. I like your style. Build it yourself if no one else will!
Pretty much! i wish i had a better quality stub to weld to the cv end as i know its a weak point but atleast i can always machine off a broken one and put a new one back on it.

On the plus side, we went on our yearly wheeling event up in cottonwood and i had 0 issues with the front driveline. i slowly gained confidence in the front end over the weekend as i would put the front end in more areas of bind without issue. I think the diff axle or diff its self is finally the weak point till i upgrade it.

my timing chain did decide to eat a guide over the weekend though. Fucking chinese shit



all new slightly better chinese shit back in.


while doing all that, i pulled the turbo off and the exhaust mani its bolted too, off. its been 1 year since its been made and i wanted to inspect the mani for cracks or issues. couldnt find any but did add a brace to help support the turbo and keep it from wanting to rip the turbo off the mani.


Then changed the front springs for a 2" lift spring that is a higher spring rate, much needed as the stock ones with 2.5" spacers were SHOT.

Spent a couple nights last week working on all this and then a 12 hour day on Saturday putting it all back together. We leave on a short "prelander" trip friday morning with just my wife riding with me and midget nate and his wife coming along in their canned ham. Plan is to leave my house, all dirt to Jerome, eat lunch at haunted hamburger, then head up to sycamore point to camp. Saturday will be dirt to the GC (wife has never been, hence the trip and to get away from the kids for a weekend) with breakfast in willams, do touristy shit up there, back down to either sycamore falls or point to camp and then sunday, dirt all the way back home. Funny enough, it was the wifes idea to do a dirt trip in the tracker, i just put the location and routes together. Shes a keeper.
Well, back in early august, i was starting some scouting for my elk hunt in september. i drove the tracker from my house up to flagstaff, did my scouting and then drove her home. over that highway drive time, i was doing alot of high boost, part throttle AFR adjustments. There are lots of hills all the way up to flag so it puts a good load on the engine for me to dial that area in. two days later, on a drive to downtown phx and back, things were not happy... i noticed on the way back up from down town as i went to pass a car on the highway, she felt gutless. hmmm, pulled off the highway and got some food, thats where i heard a faint "knock knock knock" Fuuuuuuuck. drive her back to work and parked it.

after some quick diag, something inside the engine is not happy. over 3k rpm she knocks/rattles real bad but doesnt sound like your typical rod knock. Im not surprised. 256k on it, low oil pressure ever since ive had it, and my right foot finally did it in.

So i sourced a lower mile 160k GV out of dewey from a friend of mine, towed the rig home and pulled the engine. Fuuuuuck that shit, suzuki shoulda stuck with 4 cylinders. that was the biggest pain in the ass motor pull ive ever done.

Initial shit from the top was no biggy. Just simple disconnects but underneath was another story.

Exhaust has to come out and thought it might snake out with the front driveshaft in. Nope, that has to come out. Pulled that, snaked the exhaust out and then started looking at how to get the converter bolts out. Took me about a hour of all kinds of different combos before I finally found the one spot I could get a ratchet and socket in to undo them. Otherwise i was going to have to drop the diff… fuuuuuck that.

Then I had to get the wiring off the starter. Initially I thought I could get the converter bolts from the starter location (nope!) but I removed the pass exhaust manifold to make it easier and found out, that’s about the only way to get it out. Jesus…

So wirings out, exhaust out, converter bolts out, bellhousing bolts out, let’s try to get it out! Nope, 20 min of fighting later, the steering shaft has to come off becuase its 1/2” too close to the driverside motor mount. Fine, fuck you. Off you go.

All I could do was laugh at the retarded way they did shit. Almost as bad as a Nissan of the same era. I do know now how to pull mine much easier and faster but the biggest plus with mine is the frame drop. That makes lower side access so much easier. Best mod I’ve done to that rig



couple weeks ago, got the engine torn down and prepping for boost.

Tore the engine down and started inspecting things inside. Looks like at some point, it got a new pass side head and the timing chains have been replaced at some point with factory parts (sweeeet). Got Japan markings all over them, some Suzuki part numbers and very minimal wear. All the gears are in good shape as are the chains so I’m just going to reuse all these parts. Trust them over the stuff the other motor has.



The new head had me wondering if a chain broke at one point and one of the pass side pistons had valve witness marks in the piston. Yup, that explains it. I actually didn’t see the marks till I pulled a piston to check ring gaps and clean them up. Speaking of, glad I pulled the pistons. They were all gummed up.



Oil control rings were packed with junk, gas ports were completely plugged and tons of carbon build up.

Elbow grease and sweat later



Skirts are in great shape, bearings look awesome, cylinder bores are still very tight (3.3075) and everything else in the bottom end looked perfect. Just the piston tops sucked. Bumped up ring gap from .013 to .016 for top and .022 for bottom. Should be good for 15lbs of boost if I ever somehow get there. Went full sloppy mechanic and reused pistons rings, just regapped them.


Got all the pistons cleaned and installed


Then button up the bottom end by putting the new oil pump on and shimming the pressure relief .110. Should add some more pressure before it opens now. Wanted more volume but could not for the life of me find a sprocket to work to overdrive the pump like 10%. Oh well, good bearings and new pump should have enough to feed the turbo… I hope lol. Then threw the pans on