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Bigfoot - The Original Monster Truck

The first car crush ever in 1981

 

By Jim Oaks

 

I can remember going to the Cleveland AutoRama back in the early 1980's and seeing Bigfoot. Well actually, I saw it from a distance. You couldn't even get close to it because of the tons of people trying to get a closer look. I got a photo, but it was from a distance. 

I would later see Bigfoot up close, and on numerous occasions at truck shows. I even made it a point to stop in St. Louis Missouri on my way from Ohio to New Mexico for a chance to visit the home of Bigfoot.

Bigfoot is probably the most famous Ford truck of all time. It has surely had an influence on millions of people and caused many of them to become die hard Ford truck fans.

Bigfoot caused the birth of the 'Monster Truck' which has grown in to a major business.

So what is the history of this famous Ford pickup?

In the early 1970's, Bob Chandler was a construction contractor in St. Louis Missouri. In 1973, a motorcycle accident put an end to Bob’s construction career.  Bob was an offroader that found ways to break even the toughest of trucks, and that led to the discovery that there was no place in the Midwest to get 4x4 parts and service. The next year, he ordered a 1975 F250 pick-up truck, and soon Midwest Four Wheel Drive & Performance Center was born in the family garage.  Neighbor and good friend, Jim Kramer, became Vice President and business was good, but they all still took time to go four wheeling.  The Chandler family, which now included three children, spent their weekends at off road events and running the gravel bottom rivers in southern Missouri.  Due to Bob’s lead foot, the truck was christened "BIGFOOT", and to keep down on breakage and to show off 4 wheel drive products, Bob added bigger axles and made his truck bigger and stronger.  Rear steering was another especially popular innovation, and soon BIGFOOT was attracting attention wherever it went!

(1975 F250 And The Midwest Four Wheel Drive Center)

(The first monster truck to ever use rear steering added in 1979)

They still used their 4x4 as a work truck, and partly as a promotional tool for their business.  They tried out new parts on the truck, and kept making it bigger and better, always a step (or two) ahead of everyone else.  Soon the truck itself became an attraction.  In 1979, it did its first paid event, a Denver car show. 

In 1979, BIGFOOT performed at its first paid event, a Denver car show.  Exhibition truck pulls in arenas and stadiums soon followed.  Magazines came calling and BIGFOOT’s popularity continued to grow.  Never one to rest on his laurels, Chandler then tried something that really caught the public’s imagination.  He drove BIGFOOT over a couple of junk cars!  A promoter saw a taped copy of the aptly named “car crush,” and a few months later Bob duplicated the stunt in a stadium show.  The rest is history.

BIGFOOT  #1

Vehicle = 1974 F-250 Pickup with 1979 body

Engine = 640 c.i.

Transmission = C-6 automatic

Fuel Type = Racing Fuel

Axles = 5 ton military with hardened axle shafts

Shocks = 14 BIGFOOT Signature Series Shocks

Height = 10' 6"

Weight = 11,000 lbs.

Tires = 66 x 43 x 25 Firestone Flotation Tires

 

Then, in 1981, Chandler tried something that forever changed the monster truck concept.  It fueled an explosion of fan interest and led to a legion of imitators.  He decided, just for fun, to see if he could drive BIGFOOT over a couple of junk cars.

A few months later, he duplicated the stunt in a stadium show.  The rest is history.  In 1983, BIGFOOT began a sponsorship association with Ford Motor Company.  In that time, the BIGFOOT fleet has had 16 monster machines and the F-Series pickup has become the world's best selling vehicle.

Because of the popularity of BIGFOOT, Chandler was forced to clone BIGFOOT to try to meet the demand!  In addition, inspired by the success of BIGFOOT, numerous imitators came forth and the “monster truck” name was coined and an industry was born.  There are now monster trucks throughout the world.

Inspired by the success of BIGFOOT, numerous imitators came forth in the middle 1980s. Car crushing became a staple of major truck pulling and mud racing events. But by 1987, car crushing was no longer the hot new thing. Given the strong audience appeal of monster trucks, the logical move was to start racing them.  Racing quickly replaced exhibition car crushing. Racing eventually lead to freestyle where drivers get a specified amount of time on the clock to do whatever they want to impress the crowd. This can range from jumps, wheelies, donuts, car crushes, and so on.

BIGFOOT #5

Vehicle = 1996 Pickup Truck

Engine = 460 c.i.

Transmission = C-6 automatic

Fuel Type = High octane racing gas

Axles = 5 ton military planetaries and Detroit lockers

Shocks = 16 BIGFOOT Signature Series Shocks

Height = 15' 6"

Weight = 28,000 lbs. (38,000 with duals)

Width = 13' 1" (20' 5" with duals)

Tires = 120 x 48 x 68 Firestone Alaska tundra tires, weighing approx. 2400 lbs. each

BIGFOOT #5 was completed in the summer of 1986 for the sole purpose of handling the 10 foot tall Firestone Tundra tires.  The tires were originally used on an Alaskan land train that was used by the US Army in the 1950's.  Before they were permanently installed on BIGFOOT #5, they had been used by BIGFOOT #1, #2, & #4.  Its first show was the Fall Jamboree in Indianapolis where it donned dual 10' tires, making it the tallest, widest and heaviest pickup in the world!  Today, BIGFOOT #5 mainly sets on display at BIGFOOT 4x4, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri.

(BIGFOOT #9)

BIGFOOT #9 - The state-of-the-art in monster truck suspensions, circa 1990, on Bigfoot 9: tube chassis, cantilever suspension with gas-charged shocks, ZF axles with internal wet brakes, and planetary gears. In 1994, it toured extensively through England and Malaysia, and even visited Brazil in 1998.  However, shortly after loading the truck into a container to be shipped back to the US, BIGFOOT #9 was lost in a customs debacle.  To this day, this fiasco has not been resolved.

 

BIGFOOT # 10

Vehicle = 2006  Pickup Truck, fiberglass body

Engine = 572 c.i.

Transmission = C-6 automatic

Fuel Type = Methanol

Axles = ZF Axles with internal wet brakes/planetaries

Shocks = 8 nitrogen charged custom designed shocks

Height = 10'

Weight = 10,000 lbs.

Tires = 66 x 43 x 25 Firestone Flotation Tires

Width = 11' 9"

Frame = Computer Aided Design - Tubular Frame

 

(BIGFOOT #11)

 

BIGFOOT #11 is a modification of the BIGFOOT #10 chassis.  It has 32" of suspension travel, more than any of the other BIGFOOT trucks had at the time.  In 1995, Eric Tack drove it to a then world record monster truck distance jump, with a leap of 117 feet.  In 1999, Dave Harkey drove BIGFOOT #11 to a wheelie record of 217 feet, 3 inches!  Driver Jerry Dalton and BIGFOOT #11 are currently doing shows throughout the US.

 

BIGFOOT #16

Vehicle = 2006  Pickup Truck, fiberglass body

Engine = 565 c.i.

Transmission = Abruzzi 2-speed

Fuel Type = Methanol

Axles = ZF Axles with internal wet brakes/planetaries

Shocks = 8 nitrogen charged custom designed shocks

Height = 10'

Weight = 10,000 lbs.

Tires = 66 x 43 x 25 Firestone Flotation Tires

Width = 11' 9"

Frame = Computer Aided Design - Tubular Frame

 

 

 

These are just some of BIGFOOT's Firsts (Click HERE for more):

  • First monster truck in the world - Bob & Marilyn Chandler - St. Louis, MO - 1975

  • First monster truck at SEMA - Las Vegas, NV - 1977. A BIGFOOT truck has appeared at SEMA every year since 1977

  • First monster truck to use 48" tires - 1978 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to use military axles - 1978

  • First monster truck paid appearance - Denver, CO - 1979

  • First monster truck to use rear steering - 1978 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to appear in a movie - "Take This Job & Shove It" - 1981 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck car crush - Bob Chandler - St. Louis, MO - April 1981 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to do a car crush at a live event - Jefferson City, MO - April 1982

  • First monster truck with major corporate sponsorship - Ford Motor Company - 1983

  • First monster truck in TV commercial for major automaker - Ford Trucks - 1983

  • First monster truck to use 66" tires - 1982 [-Picture-] [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to use 10' tall tires - 1985 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to use a "character" body - "Snake Bite" - 1991 [-Picture-]

  • First monster truck to use a hybrid suspension - Extended travel shocks/leaf springs - 1991 [-Picture-]

  • Guinness Book of Records - World's biggest pickup truck - 2002 (BIGFOOT #5)

  • First monster truck to jump 13 cars - Jim Kramer - Indianapolis, IN - 1987

  • First monster truck tubular chassis created with CAD (Computer Aided Design) - Bob Chandler - 1989

  • First monster truck with a patented technology - Cantilever suspension - Patent held by Bob Chandler - 1989

  • First monster truck with 30" of suspension travel - 1992

  • First monster truck to win back-to-back racing championships - Andy Brass - 1993-1994

  • Longest recorded monster truck wheelie - Dave Harkey - 217 feet, 3 inches - 1999

 

To view more facts and photos of BIGFOOT, visit their site at www.bigfoot4x4.com.

 

"BIGFOOT"® and "The Original Monster Truck"® are all registered trademarks of BIGFOOT 4x4, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri USA © 2009 All rights reserved.
Complete copyright/trademark info: CLICK HERE

 

Blue Oval Trucks is an enthusiast site and is in no way affiliate with 'BIGFOOT'.

 

   

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