Automobiles, like music, have something that appeals to everyone. There are cars for racing, hauling heavy machinery, daily commuting and more. Even some cars exist solely to look good in. Then there are the cars that refuse to stay locked onto roads and highways.
These vehicles, which go by the moniker of 4x4, have four-wheel-drive. These automobiles have serious off-roading aspirations. As Kelley Blue Book points out, when a car has four-wheel-drive, it’s going to power all four wheels regardless of whether it's going in low or high gear. That gives it a great advantage over other vehicles when going off the beaten path.
It isn’t enough to simply have a 4x4 though to embark on what lies beyond paved roads. There are lots that come with 4WD and aren’t suited for off-roading. It doesn’t just require a 4x4 drivetrain, but a vehicle that’s rugged enough to handle whatever challenges lie in the backcountry.
Thanks to the art of car modding, people can virtually make any kind of vehicle imaginable. It’s also a trend that’s dabbled in every kind of car niche that exists, including off-roading.
There are many instances however where owners compromise the off-roading capabilities of their vehicles. Whether it’s taking a vehicle that already has four-wheel-drive or converting one to become an off-roader, some modders could have used some restraint by leaving things as is. Instead, these modders dared to make off-roaders no one asked for and now have a lackluster chance of even making it down the driveway.
Some cars just can’t handle off-roading. If there’s a style of automobile that seems ill-suited for rock crawling, it is a Corvette. It doesn’t matter what kind of wheels or lift kits get installed, a sports car or muscle car isn’t going to do well.
This Corvette looks like pure fun, but if the owner wants to keep it, they should limit it to paved roads only. This looks like a heavy vehicle, which may not bode well for certain obstacles.
24 Damaged Jeep
It happens to the best off-roaders at one time or another: a lesson in physics. The truth is there’s a lot of physics and factors involved in off-roading. That’s why it’s important, as Sam’s 4x4 reports, to take note of a vehicle’s ground clearance and angles.
If someone mounts tires that are too big on a vehicle without ample ground clearance, it could end up damaging the vehicle as a result. Even more, there are angles to consider, which factor in when climbing over obstacles.
23 Fiat Bambino
One of the finer things about off-roading modders is the sheer spontaneity their customs exude. They could have, what one Flickr user confirms, is a small Fiat 126 Bambino lying around collecting dust and find new life out of it.
All it takes is a few friends and a couple of afternoons to install a kit and throw on some aftermarket tires. Without failing to recognize the ingenuity and resourcefulness behind this build, faith is lacking in its off-roading ability.
22 School Bus
This bus shouldn’t have any problems picking up and dropping off students before and after school; off-roading is a different story. Although it appears to clear the ground and any angles, it might tip over.
Also, as the site Sam’s 4x4 points out, it’s important to have protection underneath that guard from sharp rocks and other dangerous edges. Parts like skid plates can prevent the underbody from experiencing damage. Even if it can’t go off-roading, the owner probably enjoys picking up their kids from school every day.
21 Chevy Convertible Pickup
This Chevy truck is whacky enough to offend all kinds of automobile circles. Truck enthusiasts will shake their heads in disbelief, convertible drivers won’t go near it and even off-roaders won't find any use for it.
It may be exploring the muddy roads with an unabashed style, but it’s not going to get far. Those with keen eyes will notice the transfer case below has all kinds of sludge dripping off it, suggesting it drove in a muddy off-road area. It may all be for show though.
20 Ford Focus
This proves once and for all that nothing is off limits to modders. This is the joining together of two worlds nobody asked for, and yet, it exists for all to see. As per Reddit user WYLD_STALLYNS, this is a Ford Focus that got the lift treatment.
Someone also mounted a new set of wheels on, taking out the boring stock ones. The Ford Focus might get destroyed while off-roading, depending on where the owner takes it. They’re better off sticking to conventional roads if they like their car.
19 Kit Car
It isn’t really fair to judge a kit car, but since it is technically a 4x4, it’s hard to resist. According to Motor1, this kit went for sale on eBay where it sold for about $1,720 back in 2014.
Dubbed the Rotrax, it started out originally as a Ford Cortina underneath the red and white fiberglass body. The aesthetics are unique and garner deserved attention, but it makes one wonder whether it's able to thrash trails or end up a nightmare.
18 Monster Truck Over Lambo
This photo will have many wondering if that much lift is truly necessary for a pickup truck. The truck sits so high that it affords enough room for a Lamborghini to pass through unscathed below. Lifting a vehicle may look cool, but it doesn’t come with sacrifices by way of handling.
According to Jalopnik, lifting a car raises its center of gravity, which can affect braking. A good off-roader has a balance between good ground clearance and still being able to control the vehicle.
17 Wooden Flatbed Truck
There’s no limit to the amount of craftsmanship and artistry modders can put into their vehicles. This one isn’t lacking in any of those merits. It does, however, make one doubt its off-roading capabilities.
With wheels covered in mud, this truck has already proven it can handle back roads. The custom wooden body suggests it may not hold up when the going gets tough. There’s only one way to find out, and it’s not worth risking it with this awesome 4x4.
16 Poorly Parked Donk
This Jeep seems to care little about off-roading and more with looking different. The mods appear to be a lift along with the huge wheels one could see from a mile away. The tires themselves are smaller but the rims are what take up all the real estate.
When sized up next to conventional stock wheels, in another parking spot beside it, the wheels look thrice as big. It’s a donk the owner may be proud of, but it’s not going anywhere off-road.
15 Suzuki Samurai
This Suzuki Samurai dared to climb up a pile of rocks and then looks like it discovered that the act was rigorous enough and decided to rest at a standstill. The Samurai is a competent off-roader that has its share of fans, though it’s not the first vehicle one thinks of rock crawling in.
It’s a smaller vehicle that seems ill-suited for a lift kit and humongous wheels. Modders have every right to do it, though they might get unwanted jeers in the process.
14 Jeep Cherokee XJ
Although this Jeep has a lift kit, it’s nowhere near as high as ones commonly used on pickups that all but tarnish its off-roading capabilities. As Car Throttle notes, a big body and suspension lifts can hurt one’s ambitions to truly off-road. The Jeep appears to have enough clearance while maneuvering over these rocks.
As much cargo space as the Cherokee XJ affords though, it seems like the Wrangler is more suited for this sort of venture. Then again, the XJ is one of the best Jeeps around, so it’s hard to go wrong.
13 Volkswagen Cow/Beetle
It’s hard to wrap one’s head around this custom 4x4. There is so much to examine. The build itself is worthy with a healthy lift and tires that look capable of handling a diverse landscape. What’s questionable is the actual car itself.
A Volkswagen Beetle isn’t the first car one would think of going off-roading—in fact, it’s probably the last one. Add on top of that a paint job that makes it look like a cow, and this build raises serious concerns.
12 Warzone Jeep
This thing is bizarre. It’s not exactly clear what it was originally, it definitely doesn't look as though the purpose was to bring it off-road. Then again, looks can be deceiving, and it’s not exactly clear whether this creation could actually hold up.
What isn’t deniable is the amount of time and artistry that went into making this off-roading machine. It has what appears to be a mesh fabric in between the bars and an eye-catching front grille.
This next one is a slight cheat as it bears two more wheels than the rest of the vehicles on this list, making it a 6x6. At first glance, 6 wheels look better and more eye-appealing than 4.
More tires must be a good thing, one would think, since it may offer more traction. In the end, though, the owner is also taking on extra costs associated with the drivetrain and added pair of wheels. It’s up to modders to decide if the extra wheels are worth it or not.
10 Excessive Jeep
Some modders go a step too far. This Jeep may have taken several steps. It has what appears to be countless grab bars all over the exterior. In addition, there are also lots of ornaments such as a skull and the US flag.
There’s even a set of rear headlamps hanging from the top and down below near the bumper. The strangest one is a red basket on the top. It’s an odd assortment of mods that aren’t expected to improve off-roading.
9 Blue And Green Jeep
There are two different types of Jeep owners: the ones who keep their vehicles untouched, down to the last stock part it comes with; then there are modders. This latter camp will go to great lengths to set their vehicle apart from the rest, even if that means mounting huge wheels on.
These wheels shouldn’t have too many problems on the road unless they encounter a flat. Off the road, it might struggle with the mildest layer of gravel.
8 Classic Flatbed Truck
This is a build that has us asking what came first: the truck or the wheels? In all likelihood, someone found this classic truck first—which is a 1954 Chevy flatbed, according to a Pinterest; the wheels came after the fact.
On the other hand, they could have started out with these great 42” tires and had to find something that would go with it. This classic truck may have a good shot at roaming through mud and swamp thanks to its tires, but it may not last long in general.
7 Dredded Off-Roader
If there’s one thing movies prove, it’s that Hollywood never gets it right. Whether it’s physics, action or even cars, filmmakers tend to bend the truth to their whims in service of entertainment.
According to the site Unsealed 4x4, this blue and white vehicle originally came from the Judge Dredd movie. Being that it’s from a movie, more than likely it’s about showing off more than it is functionality. This thing wouldn’t last very long if let loose in the wild, far from the beaten path.
6 4x4 Ferry
Bad and bizarre mods have been around forever. This odd 4x4 “ferry,” as one Pinterest user points out, roamed Burgh Island back in 1934. With its massive lift and treads in the rear, it has no problem traversing over shallow beach waters. On a real off-roading excursion, it may not fare as well though.
The front wheels look conventional and don’t appear to have what it takes to handle gravel roads. The body shape is also wide and problematic. This 4x4 is better off sticking to shallow waters.
5 Renault Van
Like the VW Beetle from earlier—the one painted like a cow—this is a head-scratcher. Off the production line, these vans offer practical storage space and manage to look neat at the same time.
According to harry_nl via Flickr, these Renault vans first hit the scene as early as 1947. The exact model’s name is Goélette. Inevitably, the modders got their hands on one and decided to turn it into a 4x4. Already tall enough, it looks ridiculous even higher off the ground.
4 Donked Out Jeep
Off-roading can be an investment, at least for those who do it properly. Beyond that, owners have to decide on the right kind of parts. This donked out Jeep may be able to coast down the street, even in a thunderstorm, but it’s going to have trouble in the wild.
According to the site Sam’s 4x4, the best tires for off-roading aren’t good on roads. Since this Jeep looks like a daily driver, in spite of the wheels, it doesn’t look up to the task of trudging through a swamp.
Even though the Hummer’s popularity peak has passed, it’s still a popular 4x4 for some reason. On the outside, these vehicles have an iconic exterior. It’s what’s underneath that says otherwise, especially as an off-roader.
Four Wheeler credits its problematic diesel engine and open differentials—which are less desirable for off-roading—as the culprits. With all this in mind about Hummers, it’s hard to imagine actually modifying one and then attempting to overcome obstacles.
2 Monster Panda
There are a lot of things an off-roading vehicle should carry around, in case it ever gets into a bind. Fundamentally, a Fiat Panda won’t be able to lug all that equipment along. Some arsenals include a jack, a shovel, a spare tire—and that’s just on the rack above.
This Panda looks ready to take on a field of snow, but putting this in the Mojave or Alaska is a whole different story—one that the Panda is unlikely to come out a winner in.
1 Horse Drawn 4x4
Here’s something new: a car that requires a horse to move. It just goes to show what inevitably befalls a Jeep after too much off-roading. This Jeep looks like it’s strapped down to a makeshift board with wheels on it.
It also serves as the cheapest lift kit on the list—anyone could build it using parts at home, although we don’t recommend it. This is a Jeep “4x4" that would have major trouble getting over rocks and trudging through swamps.
Sources: Kelley Blue Book, Car Throttle, Motor1, Flickr, Four Wheeler, Jalopnik, Pinterest, Sam's 4x4, Unsealed 4x4, Reddit