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BangShift Question Of The Day: If You Had To Build A Hot Rod SUV, What Would You Build?

BangShift Question Of The Day: If You Had To Build A Hot Rod SUV, What Would You Build?

Not surprisingly, today’s BangShift Question Of The Day came into being thanks to a particularly oddball thought that I had while driving past the Mitsubishi Outlander in my neighbor’s driveway: “Hmmm, I wonder if you could cram the drivetrain from a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in one of those things?”

I’ll admit that even with a turbocharged four cylinder and six-speed manual an Outlander still wouldn’t make my short-list of “must have vehicles”, but it’d be a heck of a lot more interesting to drive stoplight to stoplight. To prove that I’m not completely insane, here’s a video proving that someone else is building one.

This got me thinking: While having downsized somewhat from the insanity of the late ’90s and early ’00s where soccer moms were piloting Ford Excursions and Chevrolet Suburbans that were seemingly a few pizza-slice-consuming kiddos away from 10,000 pounds all loaded up, there’s still a ton of SUVs being produced today, some based on car platforms while others are still basically a truck with two bench seats in the back. Regardless of the platform, the SUV seems to be the go-to option for parents and people that need the space, think “station wagons” are lame (Expect a good rant on why this is wrong sometime in the near future), and have too much self-respect to be seen in a minivan. So, with all of these SUVs on the road, the odds are a good number of them are owned by gearheads (Or by someone whose spouse is a gearhead), which means that there’s plenty of SUVs being looked at daily by someone who may have the same sick thoughts as I do in regards to hot rodding one.

Sure, there’s a handful of modern hot rod SUVs out there, but with the exception of the Trailblazer SS and the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 there haven’t been too many domestic factory options in the last few years, including nothing from Ford that I’m aware of (The new Explorer Sport’s twin-turbo V6 seems to have some promise, however). Even worse, a new or used SRT-8 Grand Cherokee will set you back a good chunk of change, and the same goes for a used Trailblazer SS.

Since this is BangShift, I’m not really interested in the idea of buying something new and just driving it, I want to hear about the crazy plans that you BangShifters may have for that old SUV that’s sitting in your driveway, the one that’s probably full of old stale McDonalds french fries and kids’ toys.

Given that money is no object, how would you hot rod an SUV? Would you swap out the 4.0L or 4.6L in that decade old Explorer for the supercharged 4.6L or 5.4L and six speed manual from an 03+ Mustang Cobra and go Camaro hunting? Turn that Oldsmobile Bravada into a modern day Typhoon with some variety of turbo six? Would you go even older and crazier? Go hog wild: it’s on us!

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24 thoughts on “BangShift Question Of The Day: If You Had To Build A Hot Rod SUV, What Would You Build?


    68-72 Suburban with a slightly tarted up NA 8.1L BBC, 4L80E with paddleshifters, lowered on airride, full on road course type suspension, Quadrasteer in the back, and make the single side door a sliding door like a minivan. Paint it dark green with a white roof and drive the snot out of it everywhere but offroad.

  2. Remy-Z

    Just because I’ve already experienced one, a pre-’79 Dodge Ramcharger with the removable top and one hell of a 440 in it. Lift it enough to cover 35″ tires and away we go. Covers a hot rod (big block), truck and SUV in one shot, and if I can get a couple of friends to lift off the top, a convertible, too!

  3. 440 6Pac

    Why would anyone want to hotrod a station wagon? There’s no such thing as a cool one.
    But if I was gong to it would be a 50 to 53 Jeep wagon. They ain’t all the cool, but they’re better than anything else. Specially the newer crap.

    1. tigeraid

      Oh good, another hater.

      Wagons rule, they’re great, they’re cool, STFU, build whatever you want, etc. etc…

  4. Mike

    Late model Police PPV Tahoe with a supercharger for the 5.3, and lowered with bigger wheels and tires, maybe 20″ LTZ rims painted black.

  5. 21stud

    I had a northstar powered, awd, 04 Cadillac SRX that suposedly did 14.8’s from factory. Shouldn’t be that hard to find one, lighten it up and turbocharge it. Awd would get it to the ground.

  6. 75Duster

    My late brother built from the ground up for my sister-in-law a 1950 Chevy Suburban with a inline 250 fuel injected engine, 700R4 trans, Corvette rear end, and a Dodge Dakota subframe. The SUV in in Tucson, and yes it does have front and rear a/c as well.
    How he built the ’50 Suburban, is the way I would have done it.

  7. Beaver Martin

    I too have had these odd thoughts: 1) Subaru Forester with WRC spec WRX engine
    2) Blacked out Grand Wagoneer with a twin turbo AMC 401 slammed and rolling on some steamroller sized meats 3) VW Touareg 5.0ltr V10 TDI (that engine is amazing!) 4) 80s Toyota Landcruiser LS swap and 35s. I think I may need a psychologist or something.

  8. Anonymous

    I think pretty much anything built prior to 1975 would make a cool hot rod… even though they weren’t technically called SUV’s then. I also have a bit of a soft spot for 80’s S10’s since I had one in high school.

  9. Anonymous

    Suburban. Pre-91, with a hoped up duramax or 6.5 in it. Barn doors in the back or only 3 doors up front would make it even better.

  10. tigeraid

    I’m currently building a ’93 S-10 with a v8, so I’ll avoid the usual Blazer answer….

    A sick part of me would like to see an old, early 90s Explorer with a 302, done full sleeper with stock wheels/tires, some rust, and a turbo.

  11. Ray

    Funny this came up .. Plowing snow last week w my suburb….I’d take my 2 door Tahoe, put a 7.3 powerstroke in it, 3/4 or 1 ton rears (keep the ifs) and a western plow hook up.

  12. Brad Pittman

    Building this now. ’01 4wd S10 Blazer. Building up the 4.3 to a 4.4 and supercharging it with a centrifugal charger. I know the issues with that even fire split pin crank and the thin cyclinder walls. Swapping the xfer case and front axle from the Bravada. 4L60 is getting some love as well as the suspension. It was gonna be a winter beater but $600 for the truck with milkshake on the dipstick and 120k on the clock just begged for a build. I can still drive it in the winter and should scoot right down the road and make close to 350 at the wheel.

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