Vintage Diamond T Rig Is Reborn As Epic Mid-Engine Off-Roader
14 February 2020 - motor1
The classic American truck lives a second life thanks to a bonkers Baja-themed conversion.
Here's something you don't see every day, and we're not just talking about a bonkers street-legal Baja truck. The body sitting on this custom tube chassis is a Diamond T – a name known and revered among old-school truckers in the U.S., especially in the south. The classic rigs gained prominence through the 1940s and 1950s and were common in World War II, but the company ultimately folded in the late 1960s. As such, it's rare to see one in any condition, never mind repurposed into what could be the most badass Diamond T since the big 6x6 transports that battled the Axis in the European theater.
Specifically, the cab is from a 1946 Diamond T, and it was fused to a tube-frame off-road chassis by Tim Odell from North Carolina. Odell runs a custom fabrication shop called Vice Unlimited in the heart of NASCAR country, and when he found this classic truck fading away in a junkyard, he knew it needed to be reborn. Fortunately, he had the tools and talent to make that happen, and the Baja machine you see in this Hoonigan AutoFocus video is the result of his vision, his craftsmanship, and two years of after-hours laboring. And it's absolutely epic.
Technically speaking, Odell considers this an Ultra4 racer with shades of Prerunner. It's insured and road legal in North Carolina, and it does offer some creature comforts like heat and air conditioning, though the latter isn't hooked up just yet. An iPad serves as the main control center for the truck, handling functions such as lights and firing up the turbocharged 6.0-liter V8 mounted behind the driver. It puts 650 horsepower to the ground through a fairly typical GM-sourced 4L80 automatic, but the driveline is equipped with high and low-range gearboxes for four-wheel-drive crawling, or it can go two-wheel drive for high-speed desert shenanigans. We like shenanigans.
The chassis seems well-suited for shenanigans. Odell built and assembled everything, and we do mean everything – from the custom headlight brackets to the chassis structure and even his own custom brake rotors. It runs Hummer H1 portal axles upfront with his own independent suspension setup, and the rear features a trick pump driven by the driveshaft to lubricate the pinion for better reliability. A 30-gallon fuel cell sits up front where the engine used to be, and the Diamond T's firewall is actually moved forward eight inches to house the electronic components behind the dash.
Speaking of Diamond T, the body is pretty much just as Odell found it in the junkyard. He replaced areas that were too rusted, and the doors have new inner skins with pop-out windows. But the exterior patina is preserved under a satin topcoat, which is good because he clearly loves getting this rig dirty. In the video he says he also loves taking it to car shows, and while he could make it a legit Ultra4 racer with a few minor changes, for now it's just a truly unique build that brings new life to a gone-but-not-forgotten trucking nameplate from U.S. history.
We have no problem with that. No problem at all.