I THINK I’LL TRY THAT
Jason Hoff’s New Solid Axle Sidekick.
Editor/Photo: Eric Bewley
SALEM, OR – After years of driving a Samurai on the trail, enthusiast Jason Hoff recently put together a nice, clean, and trail ready Sidekick. We had a chance to sit down with him and his new vehicle for a few minutes and ask him a few questions.
ZW: So, you’ve been a die-hard Samurai fan for many years now, what got you started down this new path? JH: In the last 6 years now Ive spent a lot of time and money building a very capable Suzuki Samurai. I had a lot of good times and lots of memorable events with that vehicle but it was starting to ride really choppy (yeah I know, it was just a samurai). When my father decided to sell his Sammy and decided to get a sidekick/tracker, I thought he was nuts. Well he finally got one and after I drove it a bit, I was hooked! Eric Bewley had been bugging me to get one for quite a while and when he discovered I was addicted he was all over me. Why dont you do a bitchin SAS? Well thanks a lot buddy (and Im not being sarcastic)!
ZW: What was the next series of events that moved you ‘down the line’ towards this new ride? JH: I live fairly close to Trail Tough and had always checked out the red SAS Sidekick he was prototyping every time I was down there. So I thought extensively about it and after sleeping on it for a week or so I called Brent Bradshaw and told him that I wanted mine to be his first production model. I told him I wanted the works and wanted him to do the install. After some talk and the reassurance that the end result would drive down the road perfect and go off road awesome, I signed on. He had a couple of projects ahead of mine so I started looking for the perfect donor vehicle.
ZW: Donor vehicle… Sometimes it’s tough to find a nice clean one like you found. How did that evolve? JH: Well after a couple of trips to the Portland area I found a Sidekick, green in color, that had been taken awesome care of. Of course it had to have the basics, like 16v, PS and a 5 speed. The one I found had 113,000 miles on it. It was perfect. I got it home and stripped the carpet out and Herculined it and installed a new stereo because it didnt have one. It was ready!
ZW: Ready, Set, Go! Right? JH: I delivered it to Trail Tough, along with the nastiest set of Toyota axles you ever seen, in the early part of January. Brent still had a few projects to finish up and I told him I was in no hurry (OK so I lied). I think he didnt get started on it till the beginning of March. Brent said that the axles would need to be rebuilt, end-to-end. I was good with this, because then they would be brand new and shouldn’t cause problems.
ZW: OK, tell us what’s it’s got. Give us the rundown. JH: It has the SAS kit, which consists of everything you need to install a 3 link with pan hard in the front and a 4 link in the back. Doestech shocks, springs and knuckle over steering. The kit is bolt on with the only welding involved being the brackets that weld onto the leaf spring perches on the Toyota axles (its a real NO BRAINER), 5.29 ring and pinions a lockright up front and an ARB in the back. We had him install the 4.27 transfer case gears and a new cat back exhaust system. His new front and rear bumpers and his rock sliders would be a must. They are awesome because they are DOM tube instead of the formed ones that the market is saturated with, I LOVE THEM!!! During the process I decided to have him build a cage for the front and he happily obliged by designing one. I think he is going to put that into production too. Top it all off with some eagle 89s and 33-12.50-15 Goodyear Wrangler MTRs and you have a mean wheeling machine!
ZW: Bottom line it for us, how do you like driving it? JH: This machine is awesome! It drives as good on the road as my wifes 4 runner. That is what I wanted and that is what was delivered. ZW: Any final thoughts? JH: I would like to thank the guys at Trail Tough for their awesome work and for making a dream come true. I would also like to thank Eric Bewley for putting the bug in my ear!
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