From a Tonka Toyota to a Six-Wheeled Mercedes: The Wildest Off-Roaders Hiding at the New York Auto Show

The basement of the Javits center includes precisely one 1,300 horsepower backhoe.

bySean Evans|
Culture photo


If you’re at the New York Auto Show this year, you’ll spend most of your time upstairs, where supercars like the Koenigsegg Regera mingle with the sparkly new offerings from MercedesAudiMazdaMaseratiGenesis and Porsche. Up there, it’s cars galore, perched atop rotating pedestals, nestled into plush carpets and lit better than Regis and Kelly.

Downstairs, though, is where the discerning truck enthusiast ventures. The displays are sparse, utilitarian—jiving with the ethos of the tough 4x4s and work vans on the floor. There, you can get up close with the new Raptor, while a Ford brand ambassador clad in a rancher’s jacket whispers sweet aluminum nothings in your ear. It's a Midtown Manhattan haven for those with a little dirt on their boots—or who, at least, aspire to some. Tarmac is fine and dandy, but so is gravel, dirt or slippery loam. Laying aside the pretenders, here are the choice few off-road heroes worth your ogle.

Toyota Tacoma Back To The Future Edition

Toyota gussied up a 2016 Tacoma in homage to Marty McFly’s iconic dream truck, unveiling it last fall on the futuristic date displayed on the DeLorean’s dash, October 21, 2015. Among the mods are a custom paint job to match the exact hue of the 1985 exterior, an off-road suspension, Toyota Racing Development wheels with BFGoodrich tires, custom tubular bumpers, a custom light bar toting KC HiLites, a bespoke tailgate with the requisite Toyota logo, vintage headlight and tail lamps and mud flaps plucked from an 1985 truck. The finished product is quite impressive. See it in person and you’ll yelp “Great Scott!".

Nissan Titan Warrior

This concept truck is a Titan XD on steroids, crafted for the person who looks at the Cummins 5.0 liter V8 Turbo diesel beast and thinks, “If only it had more truck.” It’s part Baja “Hardbody” competition truck, part armored tank and wholly savage. Affixed to the fully boxed ladder frame chassis is a custom suspension design. The front features custom upper and lower control arms with performance ball joints and a race-inspired internal bypass reservoir coil-over shocks. Hydraulic pressurized bump stops were added The whole body was raised three inches to accommodate the 37-inch off-road shoes. The front fascia, meanwhile, was redesigned to look more menacing, while the fender flares were accentuated to give it a more muscle. Mission accomplished: the thing is scary.

Toyota Tonka 4Runner

When a car manufacturer teams up with a toy builder, everyone wins. The concept sits atop 38-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZs, and enjoys a ten-inch Bulletproof Suspension lift kit to give it enough ground clearance to clamber over decent-sized Sub Zero. Not that you could miss something so brightly stickered, but there are LED lights above each tire for maximum attention-grabbing. Custom welded bumpers, roof rack, side steps and ladders fit nicely, as does the pop-up tent on the roof. Under the bonnet is the same 4.0 liter V6 that the production 4Runner enjoys—more than ample to get this show-piece up and over the rocks.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme

This isn’t your typical Sprinter. The green machine is more than 20-feet long and over 8-feet tall. Capable of hauling 3.2 tons and towing nearly four, this dually Sprinter Extreme is the ultimate workhorse. Equipped with a 4-cylinder BlueTEC diesel engine mated to the 7G-TRONIC transmission, this monolith can move itself surprisingly efficiently. A tuning job from RENNtech added a custom roof rack for the spotlights, plus a brush guard with additional fog lights and a winch. The lift kit makes sure nothing touches those six G-Class-inspired beadlock wheels with the knobby off-road sneakers. A Scattolini ScattoMaax tipper bed will dump a load to the side or rear with ease. And, though the vinyl wrap job includes mud in the graphics, you’d easily find enough real muck to coat the chassis.

The JCB GT Backhoe

Usually, commanders of earthmovers wear Carhartt jackets and steel-toed boots—the driver of the JCB GT backhoe will need a fire-retardant suit and racing shoes. JCB first crammed a blown big block into a piece of construction equipment back in England in 1988, with a 7.4-liter Chevrolet powerplant capable of producing 750 horsepower. The second-gen refresh saw the pony count leap up to 1,000. That still wasn’t enough, so this third-gen hauler is the recipient of a supercharged 572 Chevy Merlin III V8 making 1,300 horsepower. That rockets the 7,000-pound beast to a (world record) top speed of 115 mph, and through the quarter mile in 17 seconds. Wheelie bars keep it upright(-ish), while a parachute helps the yellow missile stop safely. Bob the Builder would lose his lunch. (See this unholy beast in action in this delightfully-dated supercut of footage from JCB.)

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