Feb 21 2015
In April 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced a tuning competition based on the new GLK-Class, which was to be launched in January 2009. Four companies were selected for the challenge. The companies inputted their own ideas and design into the GLK and the results had been revealed at Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.
Legendary Motorcar Company: A Legendary GLK
Regardless of your sport – snowboarding, wakeboarding, skateboarding or any other extreme discipline, the Rock Crawler from Legendary Motorcar Company (LMC) is designed to be the ultimate companion for those seeking an adrenaline fix.What started out as a go-anywhere brief focused on the off-road prowess of the Mercedes-Benz GLK, quickly turned into a do-anything reality when avid skateboarder Ryan Klutt, the 14 year-old son of LMC founder Peter Klutt first heard about the GLK tuner competition. “I thought right away that it would be great to put a rail on top to turn it into an interactive snowboarding car, and it kind of went from there,” he explains.
Legendary Motorcar, which is more typically associated with race car fabrication and classic car restoration scene than with custom-tuning of road cars, then set about creating a vehicle that can not only get extreme sports fans to remote locations, but can also play an active role in the sport itself.
Central to the work carried out on the GLK is the gasoline-powered tow winch built into the rear of the vehicle. The “Grinch Winch” is growing in popularity within the extreme sports community, able to tow boarders of any description at speeds of up to approx. 50 km/h. It can be transferred to either the front or the rear of the vehicle and has a hand throttle for tow speed adjustment.
But it’s one thing to use a vehicle for towing a boarder, it’s quite another to integrate the vehicle into the boarding experience. The Rock Crawler also features a detachable ramp system, side and roof-mounted grinding rails and a custom push bar.
Chief Engineer on the project is Ken Stewart, whose specialty is building race cars for Legendary. “We set out to make the Rock Crawler do something that vehicles were never intended to do,” he explains. “And the GLK was perfectly suited to the task. It’s not too large and has great interior space for mounting the kind of equipment we needed. It also has this young, active image and the grinding rails work really well with its aggressive styling.”
Legendary used stainless steel bars to create the roof and swing-out side-mounted grinding rails. Using the winch and ramp combo to get airborne, boarders then “grind” or “jib” their boards along the length of the vehicle before reconnecting with the ground/snow/water at the other end.
A Perspex panel fitted to the roof of the Rock Crawler protects the GLK’s panorama sliding roof from boarding debris or, indeed, mistimed boarders themselves. A folding roof-mounted light bar also enables the Rock Crawler to provide play area illumination for its sporting buddies.
To accentuate the visual impact of the Rock Crawler, Legendary worked with graphics specialist Ron Gibbs to create stunning imagery against the backdrop of the GLK’s standard Arctic white paint finish. The detailing works together with the clean lines of the GLK’s exterior design and adds emphasis to the Rock Crawler’s extreme sporting credentials.
While the other specialists in the competition opted to lower the GLK’s ride height and increase wheel size for visual or performance reasons, Legendary realised, in order to achieve the go-anywhere character of the Rock Crawler, ride height would have to be increased by 38mm and wheel size would have to go down.
The GLK comes as standard with 19 inch rims but, working with National Four Wheel Drive, Legendary selected 18 inch Jesse James Black-Widow rims for added all-terrain toughness and to incorporate the extra rubber on the Toyo Open Country AT mudder tires. Meanwhile, ride height was increased with custom-made spacers on the lower control arm at the rear and billet aluminium spacers at the front.
To meet the on and off-road performance requirements of the Rock Crawler, Legendary examined the drivetrain of the GLK 350 and decided to leave well alone. “The 3.5 litre V6 has plenty of pulling power and, with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the standard GLK is perfectly able to get wherever the Rock Crawler needs to be,” comments Ken Stewart. “And after all,” he adds, “that’s where the fun really starts.”