Thunder Beast - Build & More!


I was posting a build thread on another forum, and it occurred to me that in all the time I have been a member
here, I have NEVER posted a build thread!

Well, since I already wrote it elsewhere, it won't be difficult to change it a bit and post it here.
This build requires a bit of background about the truck.
So here goes...

THUNDER BEAST started out as one of the VERY FIRST Monster Trucks!
Here are some pictures from 1976, when it came home
from the dealership, and then was put on 2.5 ton axles and 60" tires.
It was bigger than Bigfoot at the time, which just had 44's back then.

1976 -

The truck was sold sometime around 1978, to Al Duke, who promoted the truck
throughout the Pacific Northwest. There was only a handful of monster
trucks by that time in the entire country. Here is a newspaper article
from the Kent News Journal about the truck. Notice the term "Monster
Truck" had not yet been invented...

At some point prior to 1980, Al was approached by a film production
company to show the truck in a new movie, but he turned them down.
That film was "Take This Job And Shove It", a low budget film, based upon a popular song.
(We all know what happened after that!)
The truck, then known as "High Roller" appeared in the very first USHRA show in the Seattle Kingdome, in 1983.
Little is known about the show, except Bigfoot was there, I believe, and I am not too sure about that, either.

I first saw the truck in 1984, on a commercial on TV, for A&L Four Wheel Drive Center, a truck lot North of Seattle.
I took a drive up to Lynnwood, where the lot was, and took a few pics..

I wanted to buy the truck, but I had just purchased a new car at the time.

During 1985, I went to college..and saw the truck on TV... it was in Yakima, Washington, being used by a Volkswagen
dealership. The truck was now named the "Vista Price Buster".
The person driving it was Jeff Bainter, who went on to build Hot Stuff and High Voltage, the monster jeeps.

Later on, the truck disappeared from the lot. I WANTED THAT TRUCK!!
I realized I wasn't going to get that truck, so I decided to quit college and build
my own, not knowing ANYTHING about how to go about it, of course.

Well, shortly after I started my new job as an auto detailer for a car rental
company, I saw the "Price Buster" in an auto trader ad!!
I quickly made the arrangements with my credit union, and bought the truck!

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Well, after keeping the truck in a field, I started hand rubbing the paint off.

I also started work on the interior.. It had red carpeting with black velour
around the sunroof. It also had bucket seats and a primitive center console...

Well, I decided to keep the seats, and go with the interior colors of red and black.
My favorite monster truck was Samson I, and I wanted to paint my truck red!
But first it needed a red interior!

So I built a new center console...

and I was working on the interior of the truck while it sat in a field.. I
moved the truck into a storage facility, as my friend's parents had to
move... the day I moved I contracted a terrible case of E-Coli poisening!!

I now had a "shop"... a 10X30' storage unit!



You see, I lived with my father on the second floor of a condo complex, and we only had one parking spot! This was always a problem as I had several hot rod cars and I had a huge truck!! LOL


I had the truck painted red...

... and put in a new Smittybilt Rollbar...

... had a new tonneau cover made and bought rear window louvres..

.. I painted the tires with blackwall tire paint to give them a nice gloss,
and put them on....

In this picture the center console isn't quite finished yet.

and took the truck out...



I decided my "shop" was too small, so my friend (the on-site manager of the
storage complex) Larry and I took the wall out and created a bigger shop!!

Now I had room to do things!

The first thing I did was do something about the poor steering and brakes on
my truck...I bought brake and steering kits from Boyce Equipment.

I started having Pete's Towing, one of the largest towing outfits in Seattle,
come down and weld for me. I did not have the capability to do any welding
on my own, and I did not have any running water, either.

I wanted a bigger truck! So I bought a set of tires and wheels from Boyce

I had them delivered..but they didn't have the wheels installed!!! :eek:

I had to wait for the wheels to arrive.. and when they did, they needed
painting!!! I was very upset!
So I had to have them painted, and mounted...




Added more lift... put on graphics..

Tried running over cars...

Got stuck on the cars!! Didn't have enough gears to climb over!!



Well, I ordered NEW axles and transfer case from Boyce Equipment.
These axles have 10.26:1 ring and pinions, disc brakes and steering all installed..

... and started working on a new frame...

....the engine and transfer case were installed...

...and then the axles were prepared...

... gussets were welded on to prevent bending and breaking...

...the springs were mounted and the axles fitted into place...

...and the basic chassis was completed!



Well, it was time to put the truck body on the new frame. This was easy to do, because I was
having my truck built at a tow truck manufacturing shop. There were lot's of tow trucks and
special equipment around we could use.

I know, I know, but the truck had never been off the frame before, so there were all those coats
of paint between the cab and bed! I didn't have a tilt bed, so it didn't matter, really.

On we go...

The truck was pushed back into the fab shop..

... and the work continued. Mounts were fabricated for the shocks, limiting straps and the
bump stops...

... and bumper mounts were made...

... then the time came to paint the new chassis, and the engine compartment...

After the painting was completed, the truck was sent back to my shop, where
new drivelines, hydraulic lines, brake lines, electrical systems, etc. were all
fabricated.. this took 2 months. I would go down to the shop and sit in a lawn chair
and stare at the truck and think about all the work ahead of me.. I would eventually
say to myself, "Well, if I don't do it, no one else is going to do it for me!", and that would
get me started.

I started by building the battery box, which held three batteries,
a triple battery isolator, breakers, and disconnect switches...



The control arms were painted and bolted into place..

... meanwhile, I had new and better graphics made for the truck, vinyl graphics, which
were a new thing at the time..

.. and after installing a new 22 gallon fuel cell...

... I was finally able to drive the truck again!!!



Well, it was time to take the truck to the fab shop again.. this time to get the drive line loops, u-joint shields and brake shields made.

Here are a few pictures of the finished truck..



Well-Known Member
I know we all love the old school pic thread, but I say this is the BEST THREAD EVER!! Thank you soo much Jeff for sharing this with us.


Well-Known Member
Without a doubt the coolest thread i've seen on here. It's crazy you have all of those old photos still! Very cool to see how this truck came about tho.

adam tereska

Well-Known Member
Jeff, you have made this thread one of my absolute favorites. Thank you for sharing with us the history of the Thunder Beast Ford.


Well-Known Member
Awesome job, Jeff!:D I got a question though. If you had to guess, how much time and money would you say you've had to put into the truck over the years? (Not including truck prep and travel costs.)

Samson 1 Fan

Well-Known Member
A very Awesome thread Jeff. Love the built-up & detail pics & to see how the truck changed over the years.:cool:

Thanks for sharing Thunder Beast's history with us.

& the best of all is that it's street legal! Do you still have the original frame?:)


Awesome job, Jeff!:D I got a question though. If you had to guess, how much time and money would you say you've had to put into the truck over the years? (Not including truck prep and travel costs.)
I don't know, but it was A LOT!! It's like I built the truck twice, so it's
well over $100,000!!