Marshall Madruga wasn’t at the Baja 1000 in Big Oly’s heyday, but Big Oly’s appeal proved timeless and spawned thousands of fans, Madruga among them. He built and drove a string of vintage Broncos during his high school years, and eventually worked his way into a Class 8 Ford F-100 later in life. Just like Jones after winning the Baja 500, Madruga wanted to up the ante.
Vintage cloak, modern hardware carries through to the wheels. The classic “kidney bean” wh
Putting the Class 8 F-100 up for sale, Madruga decided that the next step up would be a Trophy Truck. Now, Marshall isn’t a poor man, but he’s hardly one who can just march into a premier fab shop and sign a big, fat check. A major portion of this truck came from Madruga’s personal skill and sweat equity.
The concept for the Big Oly Trophy Truck came about as Madruga envisioned something that would wrap both his desire for all-out performance with his admiration for Big Oly and Parnelli Jones into one unique package. Using a Sandco Performance chassis as a template, Madruga completed the tube work without the aid of high-zoot fabrication tools or bucks-up computer modeling. “I actually did all of my tube notches using a hand-held Makita grinder,” Marshall says proudly. The result is a machine with state-of-the-art performance that was built the old-school way.
The 9-inch-style rearend combines a Dirt Tech housing with a Currie/Gearworks third member
Next it was time to build that which would set it apart from the rest of the TT field: the body. Obviously, no ready-made Bronco TT fiberglass existed, so Marshall used his years of surfboard shaping and building to his advantage. Just like with the chassis, Madruga’s sweat equity made the final product come to life. After Marshall shaped the body Perry’s Fab N Fiber made teh molds and final fiberglass. The body’s crowning touch is naturally the huge polished wing on top just like the original.
Doing this story the right way involved not just one, but two photo shoots. The first was done in the dirt as usual. The second shoot was near Parnelli’s shop in Torrance, California, with the Big Oly TT and the original Big Oly side by side. It was an awesome opportunity to meet a living legend.
With its up-to-the-minute suspension, highly-tuned drivetrain, and retro skin, the Big Oly TT is the ultimate modern classic. In this case, TT doesn’t just stand for Trophy Truck. This is also a Tribute Truck.
|Big Oly TT Specs|
|Vehicle: || Big Oly TT|
|Owner/Hometown: || Marshall Madruga/San Diego, CA|
|Chassis: || Built by Marshall Madruga, based on a Sandco Performance design. 4130 Chromoly tubing, TIG welded|
|Engine: || Ford 351 Windsor-based 438ci stroker built by Troy Bowen of Ford Performance|
|Induction: || Retrotek EFI|
|Transmission: || Two-speed Powerglide by Mike’s Transmissions, backed by a Gear Vendors overdrive unit|
|Front suspension: || Sandco Performance A-Arms, Bilstein shocks, uniballs and rod ends by Rod End Supply|
|Rear suspension: || Four-link based on a Dirt Tech housing, Dirt Tech lower trailing arms, Currie/Gearworks third member, Bilstein |
shocks. Housing and upper links are nickel-plated
|Ring and Pinion: || 5.14:1, 10-inch ring gear|
|Rear Differential: || Spool|
|Tires: || 39-inch BFG Baja T/A KRT tires|
|Wheels: || Custom retro “kidney beans” by American Racing|
|Wheelbase: || 125 inches|
|Track width: || 88 inches|
|Original Big Oly Bronco Specs|
|Vehicle: || Original Big Oly Bronco|
|Owner/Hometown: || Parnelli Jones/Torrance, CA|
|Chassis: || Custom all-tube 4130 chromoly, TIG-welded|
|Engine: || 351ci Windsor|
|Induction: || E.F.I.|
|Transmission: || Initially a Ford C-4, later a Ford C-6|
|Front suspension: || Custom Twin I-Beam with front-mounted radius arms, custom center-pivot steering, captured coil spring, about 10 to 12 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension: || Four-link with rear Panhard bar, captured coil spring, about 8 to 10 inches of travel|
|Ring and Pinion: || 4.11:1|
|Rear Differential: || Detroit Locker|
|Tires: || 10.00-15 Firestones custom for Parnelli Jones|
|Wheelbase: || About 92 inches (stock Bronco wheelbase)|
|Trackwidth: || About 68 inches (stock Bronco width)|
Driver and co-driver have plenty of legroom and sit securely in PRP seats with matching PR
A lot of innovative thinking went into the original Big Oly. At the lower end of the front
How cool is it to get your own name molded into your tires?
Putting the air intake in the cab is a time-honored way to keep the filter from clogging w
The front suspension is a custom variation of Ford’s Twin I-Beam. Instead of coming from t
Big Oly, all grown up. Parnelli Jones raced sprint cars on dirt ovals before he graduated
The machines have changed, but the fun is the same.
If you think you’re famous or that you’ve done a lot, here’s a reality check. This bank of
By Kevin Blumer
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