The off-road car that started it all. in 1964, Bruce Meyers used a Volkswagen chassis and air-cooled engine, paring it with a fiberglass body to make the first street legal off-road buggy. The Manx ushered in off-road racing as we know it today. This one here is running a 3.0-liter six-cylinder Subaru engine and won its class in the NORRA Mexican 1000 in 2013.
The coolest thing about the Rally Fighter? If you want one, you have to help build it. Working with the folks at Local Motors, owners help install the 6.2-liter V8 engine and the four-speed transmission, as well as all suspension components. It's a big beast, at nearly 16 feet long and over 6 feet wide. It's street legal but can still handle some of the toughest terrain the desert has to offer.
I imagine driving an Ariel Nomad is like strapping yourself to a lawn chair and launching yourself into space. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine puts 235 horsepower to the rear wheels and launches the Nomad from 0 to 60 mph in a scant 3.4 seconds.You can customize your Nomad with different size wheels, suspension components and brake packages just to name a few. Hell, you can even get yours with a heated windshield.
The Zarooq Motors SandRacer comes straight from the dunes of the United Arab Emirates. Powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, the Zarooq can be had with a manual or sequential transmission and can even be ordered with a four-wheel drivetrain. You can also get all the off-road goodies like an LED light bar, a winch and an onboard tire inflator. No word on availability, but Zarooq Motors expects the SandRacer to cost somewhere between $125,000 and $250,000.
It's not always about high speeds when it comes to driving in the dirt. If you need to get away from it all, look no further than the Earth Roamer XV. Based on a Ford 550, 650 or 750 truck, Earth Roamers are more than just a standard RV. These babies are built for serious overlanding, with solar power and large fresh water tanks -- and some models even come with a washer/dryer. The interiors are modern and sleek, far from the cracker box living spaces of tradition RVs. Expect to pay upward of $370,000 for your dream adventure rig.
Everyone loves a Miata, and now you can get one modified for off-road hijinks. With a 3-inch lift and 30-inch tires, the Exocet has 11 inches of ground clearance, or go big with 31-inch tires and 14 inches of clearance. All you need is a 1990-2005 Miata donor car, and Exomotive gives you the rest to build your ultimate rally Miata. Engines are as tame as the stock Miata engine or as wild as an LS3 6.2-liter V8 screamer.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 is the luxury off-roader you never knew you needed. Powered by a 5.5-liter biturbo V8, the G63 6x6 sports three solid axles, five locking differentials and an onboard tire pressure system that can go from 7 pounds of air to 26 pounds of pressure in just 20 seconds. Inside, the G63 6x6 features a leather interior and four heated and cooled seats.
Each year in February, a city springs up on a dry lake bed in Johnson Valley, California. This is the home base of the King of the Hammers race, and the Ultra4 rigs are the inhabitants. All Ultra4 cars are four-wheel drive, but other than that, racers can build their cars to their own imagination. No limit on tire size, no limit on wheel travel, no limit on power. Some run two solid axles, some go with an independent front suspension, but whatever the setup, these rigs are like nothing you've ever seen.
Able to bomb through the desert at upward of 130 mph, utilizing 3 feet of travel and huge tires, Trophy Trucks are the undisputed kings of off-road racing. Want one? Be prepared to drop in excess of a half a million dollars and get a team of fabricators ready. Each truck is hand-built from the start, and rebuilt by hand for each race. All Trophy Trucks are rear-wheel drive and most use monstrous V8 engines, getting an average fuel "economy" of 1 to 3 miles per gallon.
These little bugs race the same off-road course as Trophy Trucks, just much, much slower. The class 11 VWs use a late 1960s chassis and a stock 1,600cc air-cooled engine. The cars must have a fuel cell and a roll cage, but other than that, they are pretty much the same old VWs you see gathering dust in your neighbor's yard. So go ahead -- offer your neighbor $3,000 for it and build yourself a race car. That's what the guys at Project Baja did, and now they are real, live race-car drivers.