If you haven’t noticed, rock crawling has taken on a whole new look and demeanor. Years ago, it meant outfitting your current truck with a decent lift kit and a set of knobby tires. If you had the finances to continue, a hefty set of gears would be on order to include with a bullet-proof DANA front and rearend. Unfortunately, if you’re still in that train of thought, you’re years behind the game.
Nowadays, a heavily outfitted K10 or even more serious Jeep is no match for the home-built rock crawlers hauling through the hills. Today, competitive rock crawlers look nothing like a the traditional off-roader at all. Much like the ’80s were known for Star Wars, Smokey & The Bandit, CB radio’s and cocaine, the off-road enthusiast was just as well known for ridiculous lifts, laser beam paint schemes and graphics, pounding big-block power and the all too familiar KC headlamps and rollbar.
Yeah, the industry got ahead of itself; eventually creating off-road rigs that couldn’t really off-road at all. They just looked intimidating in your local mall parking lot. Somewhere along the lines, the hobby was lost. Bigger wasn’t always better.
Thankfully, we have a new breed of off-roaders; the serious folks. These new-age crawlers look more like Martian terrain vehicles with extensive modifications. Purpose built. They’re a mess and maze of tubular bars, ultra-travel shock with reservoirs, front and rear steer capable, and swing super-huge rubber on all four corners that tend to swallow up stumps, boulders and unsuspecting deer. These crawlers ooze want and desire. It’s a perfect blend of business and sport. Like a Ninja dressed in a suit and tie.
Of course, we’re talking about the efforts of Richie Keith and “Plowboy.” Richie Keith is not one to mess around when it comes to the off-road community. You see, Riche Keith is the proud owner of Keith Farms and wanted an extension of the family business to feature while he was dominating the densely wooded and hilly areas of his leisure. To do so, Darryl Jones and the crew over at Custom Tinting and Off-Road in Columbia, Tennessee put together exactly that. With a name like “Plowboy,” it’s pretty obvious this rig means business.
While it may look like “Plowboy” is just another piece of farm equipment. We assure you, it’s not. Though John Deere was the inspiration behind the build, complete with custom cut John Deere logo wheels, it wasn’t meant for sewing oats.
No, this rig was meant to thrash hills and pummel mountains; gobbling up nearly anything in it’s path. Shredding terrain is made possible through a purpose-built, 755 horsepower Dart powerplant.
Much like the build itself, the engine too isn’t just any ordinary gas-burner. Keith went with a Dart small-block, punched out to 454 inches. This long-stroke, big-bore combination makes good use of all that crank swing; enabling 700 lb-ft of twist. Gear changes are made through a highly modified PTC TH400 mated to a 4.3 Atlas transfer case. Completing most of the drivetrain, a 14-bolt was planted on both ends complete with 40-spline axles with ARB lockers and RCV shafts on all points of interest along with 44-inch rubber.
We have to agree, this machine is unlike anything we’ve seen. With the John Deere theme, it has charisma to boot. We can’t help but appreciate builds that not only go the extra mile with intricate detail and highly-customized components, only to thrash and bash them like an old truck. Of course, we’ll let most of the video provide the remaining details. It speaks for itself. Make sure to turn up your speakers. That small-block can really sing. Is this the end of “Plowboy?” We think not. In the rock-crawling culture, there’s bound to be a part duex. We can’t wait to see what the Keith’s come up with next!