After watching a 4×4 race, Nathaniel “Nat’s” Tan instantly became hooked on rigs with huge off-road tires and going four wheeling where the paved road ends. His keen interest in 4×4’s fueled his passion to build off road vehicles starting with his dad’s Nissan Patrol. From there his hard work and dedication led to the establishment of Nat’s Performance shop in Davao as he recalls, “Before I used to build off-road vehicles only for myself and out of my passion for it and not commercially. Even though off-roading wasn’t very popular then, I did not consider it as a business. But fortunately, some people like the way I build my vehicles, so they started buying it and buying another vehicle for their next project and so on until it eventually became a shop.”
Ever heard of Bill Chandler’s original “Big Foot” in the States during the 80’s? Well his creation led to the ultimate custom four-wheel drive creation widely regarded as “Monster Trucks”. These are extremely lifted pickups or SUV’s with extreme suspension systems, oversized tires and supercharged V8 engines. Just like those found competing in Monster Jam which is the largest monster truck event, touring all over the world including the Philippines. As fate would have it, seems that the said event made a lasting impression on Nat’s son as he explains, “Since my kid saw the monster trucks in Monster Jam, it became his favorite type of vehicle, so much that he even memorizes the different names of the characters.” More importantly, this also gave Nat’s the idea to build his own monster truck as he quips, “I wanted to prove that we can also do that kind of vehicle and set a higher bar for the local off-road customization scene.” Hard to believe, but the whole build was done (along with the other identical one) in just two months in Davao.
Utilizing a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup, this monster of a build began with a custom fabricated tubular sub chassis. The custom frame was then integrated onto the Chevy’s existing chassis. According to Nat’s, the entire design was done using a 3D CAD software and utilized 2-inch tubular steel that was meticulously cut, assembled and welded. He also notes that this was one of the hardest parts of the build, but credits their ten years worth of experience in building custom off road vehicles that they were able to accomplish such a feat. This kind of enormous build also entails specialized monster truck-spec equipment. These include sourcing the enormous 5-ton Rockwell differentials that are primarily used on US Military 6×6 trucks and can be used with 60-inch tall tires. Unlike conventional solid differentials, this is more robust and the third member sits on top. It also features hydraulic steering that allows for four-wheel steering where the rear is electronically controlled through a switch. The driveshaft from the front and rear axles are then mated to a very expensive aftermarket SCS “Drop Style” Transfer Case. This is then connected to the Chevrolet 4-speed automatic transmission that gets its power from a warmed-over Chevrolet V8 engine. Surprisingly, the race-spec disc brake set up on the front and rear differential are the truck’s only means of brakes. These are called pinion brakes which in this kind of application makes more sense where the brakes are actually stopping/braking the drive train and not the huge tires. It’s a highly stressed component where the rotors actually glow red hot on competition Monster Trucks. Suspension-wise, there’s a Profender coilover shock with remote reservoir and an adjustable threaded body bump stop. A custom fabricated double triangulated 4-link suspension with robust arms make sure the truck is able to handle rough terrain. The tires are flotation tires that are mainly used for agriculture and industrial uses; these measure in at 66 inches tall by 43 inches wide and weighing around 800 to 900 lbs. each. The 2-piece steel rims were custom made to bolt-on to the six-lug Rockwell axles which is a feat to do considering the weight of the truck and tires. From what I’ve seen, changing all four tires is no easy task that takes around an hour with a minimum of five to six people to achieve.
As for the whole body and interior, this was mostly kept stock with the exception of the exterior. A high quality, custom red paint refinish was done in-house at Nat’s Performance. Overall, this build showcases the Filipino’s ability when it comes to vehicle customization and fabrication skills where it was awarded the Best of Show in the Extreme 4×4 category during the recently concluded Manila Auto Salon and Sport Truck Show. It’s also an effective people magnet where it just instantly draws a crowd of curious people staring in awe and taking pictures and selfie’s that seem to take forever. That just goes to show how enormous and visually appealing this locally made monster truck really is that it would be impossible not to take a look and even have a picture or two. I reckon the only thing it lacks is a supercharged engine and zoomie headers sticking out of the bodywork.a