Junkyard Gem: 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe, Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Edition

My home state of Colorado is host to multiple wild road-and/or-off-road rallies featuring amusingly modified hoopties doing things they were never designed for. There’s the Lemons Rally, the Gambler 500 and the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500, to name a few, and — as you’d expect — many of the participating vehicles wind up in the Front Range

boneyards that I frequent. Today, we’ll be looking at a Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 veteran that looks like it just rumbled off the set of a Mad Max movie

The way you identify one of these rally machines is to look for the event stencil sprayed somewhere on the body. I like to think that I’ve had an influence on this stencil trend


So far in this series, I’ve documented a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed 1996 Acura RL from the Rambler, an Astroturf-covered 2008 Volkswagen R32 from the Rambler and a “Good Vibes” 2005 Pontiac Vibe from the Gambler


The chains-and-electrical-cords decor is top-notch.

The functional glasspack-topped dual stack exhaust must have sounded mean. It certainly looks right.

I hope all occupants wore their seatbelts, because these chains don’t look like they’d have been able to keep anyone safely inside on a jouncy mountain trail


The rattling and clanging of chains must have been an impressive accompaniment to the roaring V8 noise.

The V8 making that noise is one of the last of the original lineage of small-block Chevy engines factory-installed by GM in the United States: a Vortec 5700 aka LT-family Chevy 350. If this is the original engine, it was rated at 250 horsepower and 330 pound-feet. This engine made it into new trucks until just barely into our current century, and is still sold as a crate motor


There’s still a bit of Tahoe recognizable inside, even with the extensive body chop.

It went out in a blaze of rally glory. Now, The Crusher awaits.

Just as the Beastie Boys did a few years earlier, Chevy Tahoe marketers sampled the Gyuto Monks

for this commercial.

The original buyer of this truck probably never imagined that it would be doing this a quarter-century later.