Feature Vehicle: UTVUnderground FATROD v2 – 2016 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo
When I launched UTVUnderground.com it was purely intended to be a hobby to help me build my ultimate UTV. At the time, the Yamaha Rhino was king and so I set forth a plan to build the ultimate Rhino that I dubbed the FatRod. It was low, wide and pushed the limits of UTV design. Fast forward almost a decade and the sport of UTV has evolved in ways no one could have predicted. UTVUnderground.com has turned into more then I ever thought it would be as a brand within the sport. With that, design and development at the OEM level have increased along with aftermarket talents and offerings, and because of that I wanted to showcase how far we have pushed this sport with my latest build.
At the same time that I wanted to build a new ultimate RZR, I wanted to pay homage to our humble beginnings and especially to the person who gave that original FatRod its identity, my late great friend Rick “Wally World” Wallace. Wally was one of the most accomplished painters in our sport. His work graced many of the most iconic off-road vehicles our sport has ever seen, having his talents bless the original FatRod was an honor and privilege.
The plan was set to take the newly released 2016 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo platform and build the FatRodv2 (version 2). The RZR in stock form is already far superior to what that fully custom original FatRod Rhino was, but what made that Rhino a stand out in the sport wasn’t just its overall design, it was its theme, its look and of course its over-the-top paint and custom body. I knew I wanted to duplicate that look and feel, but I also wanted to far improve upon that original build. With that, I would have to find a new painter to help bring my vision, or should I say Wally’s, back to life once again!
We started with a 2016 Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo and quickly met up with our friend Tim Berendes at SDR Motorsports. Tim has played a vital role in helping me bring multiple builds to life and so naturally I gave him first crack and being a part of this one. He of course jumped at the opportunity to transform and assemble the FatRodv2 and it was off to SDR’s shop in Riverside, CA to get the build underway. I decided to run an SDR Sport Cage for the XP4. I had ran their “shorty” cage on some builds but as my kids were getting older I knew I had to give them some additional head room. In addition, the “Sport Cage” has a solid look and still looks fast sitting their. We added SDR Hi-Bred doors and front bumper, and Tim designed and built the cage with an easily removable automotive glass windshield.
It was decided that to match the look of the original FatRod we would go with 5 traditional style round lights on an adjustable light bar instead of the more commonly used LED light bars of today. Vision X would provide us with their new 4.5″ LED CANNON lights for the top and 2.5″ Cannons for the A & C pillars. We would also install a Vision-X dome light. To cap the lighting package off we added Heretic billet headlights & taillights that incorporate some insanely bright LED and give the vehicle a true custom feel. SDR’s rear wing has a custom integrated LED bar tied to the tail lights and features a bright white cargo light and we installed a pair of 4′ Whip-Tech LED whips.
While the 144hp Pro-Star engine is certainly powerful, I knew after I drove the vehicle for the first time that I wanted to compensate for the added weight and add some horsepower. I wanted to throw some serious sand and that’s where the crew at Packard Performance came in. I delivered the FatRodv2 to Utah and they installed their big turbo 210hp kit that features a massive Borg-Warner ball bearing EFR Turbo with alloy supercore and is capable of up to 500hp. The kit also includes a stainless exhaust & header, high-flow aluminum charge tube, aluminum air filter tube, high flow fuel pump, piggy back fuel controler and some of the finest tig welding on their stainless parts that you have ever seen. They finished the kit off with their custom tuned clutch package and ECU tune. In all the upgrade gave us an added 100hp to the wheels taking the stock machine from 110hp to 210hp all while running on pump gas at around 17lbs of boost! Best part is, no more worrying about overheating the RZR. The bigger turbo flows the factory cooling system so much better that getting the RZR over 200 degrees now is a challenge.
With the added power, we then called on Sandcraft RCR to help us strengthen our driveline. We installed their billet engine mounts, drive shaft, billet carrier bearing and front differential sprague carrier and roll pin. This package means we got serious power and ton of strength and reliability throughout our entire driveline. No more rattles and the driveline feels tight upon acceleration, it feels like my truck.
Suspension was left up to Grounded 4 & Walker Evans Racing. I wanted the nimbleness of a stock width suspension but wanted the strength of an aftermarket race inspired kit. Grounded 4 sent us their Stealth Fighter suspension system that features high strength chromoly boxed construction, high clearance lower a-arms and retain a close to stock weight all the way around. They supplied us with Summers Bros. axles and boxed rear radius rods. We paired the arms with custom turned Walker Evans Racing 2.5″ Velocity Series shocks and Walker Link rear sway bar links. The suspension is plush but able to take all the hits, it was exactly what we were looking for.
Wheels and tires are always an important decision. Being that my origional intent for the machine was for it to be used as a dual sport type of machine, I had to go with two sets, one for dirt and one for sand. For the hard pack I selected a set of 15″ Walker Evans Racing polished beadlock wheels and wrapped them in 30″ BFG KR2 Baja T/A UTV tires. The combination is not the lightest, but its durable and gave the FatRodv2 a stout look while retaining durability when going hard in the desert. For the dunes we wanted to go light but also wanted to give it added curb appeal. We were invited to DWT Racing’s HQ where I personally was able to design and build my own custom set of UTVUnderground.com Edition Sector 3-piece billet wheels. The process was a lot of fun and gave me the opportunity to learn the wheel making process while ensuring the wheels I ran in the dunes tied into the build perfect. Getting all the power to the ground is important, and with the wheels on point I needed a set of paddles that would compliment the FatRodv2 both in the looks and performance departments. Skat-Trak came to the table and set us up with their brand new 32″ paddle tires and front buffs. No one makes a better perfoming and lighter sand tire than Skat-Trak adn the 32″ tall design gave the FatRodv2 the stance I was looking for.
On the interior the FatrodV2 resembles that of a luxury pre runner. The carbon fiber starts at the hood and ends at the console thanks to FourWerx and their insanely perfect front factory replacement hood and center console. The carbon fiber dash by GlazzKraft houses our RacePak iq3 RZR dash data logging system and allows us to monitor all of our cars data including mph, engine temp, belt temp, boost, rpm, oil pressure and more. Navigation is handled by an iPad mini mounted perfectly to the dash via a Mob Armor mount made specifically for the GlazzKraft dash. We have installed GlazzKraft products since they were introduced and the FatRodv2 is not the first or last vehicle we will build with their products.
Communications are covered thanks to PCI Race Radios. We installed an icom 50w Race radio and PCI 4 place intercom. The car also features PCI Race-air to keep our helmets fresh with clean air. PCI Race Radios has been the kind of off-road communications for a very long time and always are willing to contribute and participate in our builds. Their on-site support is second to none and their products are always on point.
You can’t build a custom car without putting in a stereo system. Tim and I turned to RockFord Fosgate and installed their sick new PMX-3 head unit which not only gives us bluetooth capabilities, it also features a digital screen that displays a ton of information and simply looks high-end. The head unit controls our SSV Works 5-speaker system which is tuned perfectly. When we hit the hill the party never stops thanks to these awesome companies and their products!
The dash was finished off with a new Switch-Pro’s digital switch panel that allows us to control all of our electronics with a push of a button. The switches are programmable and remain close together for easy location and labeling. We have began to add Switch-Pro’s products to all of our new builds both because of their quality, looks and ease of installation.
No interior is complete without custom seats. Simpson helps keep the FatRod V2 comfortable and looking good via their front Vortex bucket seats and matching 3 person Vortex rear bench. We added Simpson lacth & link 2″ padded harnesses to help keep me and the family held in tight on those high-speed runs.
Axia Alloys made sure we finished the FatRodv2 off right by supplying their billet side mirrors, 12″ sun visor / rear view mirrors and various clamps and mounts. We have worked with Axia for years on our builds and no one comes close to their clamp systems and products. Clean, sleek, tight and proper best describe their products and they really helped us keep everything mounted to the cage looking thought out and clean.
With all of these electronics we knew we were going to need more power to push them all. The Achilles heal for all of my builds has been the drawing of power both during use and when parked in the shop for months at a time. Nothing annoys me more then when I want to fire a car up and the battery is dead, and putting a tender on isn’t always convenient due to the under-the-seat battery location. To solve this problem we turned to our friends at Odyssey Battery & UTV Wiring. Odyssey’s PC1200 & 925 batteries work perfectly to pair side-by-side within the factory battery box location on the RZR. We then added UTV Wiring’s dual battery kit with battery isolator and power disconnect switch. This well thought out design allows you to put all your accesories onto one battery but gives you the security of having a secondary backup should you drain the main battery while letting your stereo supply the party vibe all night long. You can rely on the secondary battery to still start your RZR. Now, there are somethings that after building the machine we realize we could improve. Therefor, prior to this season the FatRodv2 will head to UTV Wiring’s shop in Arizona to go under a full re-wire of the car. We will treat it like a race-car and upgrade numerous electronic components, fusing, stereo and more. Stay tuned for more on that!
The final bolt on mod was certainly not the least important. Its no secret that the UTV community, particularly the RZR platform has been hit hard by vehicle fires. When building a custom machine like this you want to protect your investment whether it be with anti-theft tracking hardware & software, vehicles insurance, or fire protection. We have been running fire extinguishers for many years but not until recently has a company actually put effort into developing a system that gives us the fire security that racers have enjoyed for decades. Safecraft developed an automatic thermal fire suppression system for UTVs this past year and we jumped at the chance to run it. The system from the outside just looks like another awesome Safecraft fire bottle mounted to the cage, but instead of a quick release handle to remove it, its hard mounted with a stainless steel braided line that runs through the rear firewall and ends with a thermal sensor mounted right above the RZRs engine. This thermal sensor once reaching a temperature associated with fire, will pop off and dump the 3M developed NOVEC fire suppression agent to extinguish the fire. Whats special about the NOVEC agent is that once it sprays, unlike more traditional agents, it will not destroy or corrode your vehicles sensitive wiring and mechanical components. Simply wash it off and keep it rocking!
With the build in order it was time to put the final touches on the FatRodv2 which brings us back to the beginning of the story. Wally was an amazing painter, but Wally’s time here on earth came to an end prior to me starting this build. I wanted to use this recreation of the FatRod to not only showcase how far UTVUnderground.com has come, but to also honor my late, great friend. No one in the UTV game is doing it like Wally with the exception of our new friend John Melvin of Mad Melvin Motorsports. By night, Melvin is a RZR builder and racer. By day, he owns and operates JM Collision out of Arizona. Now while the specialty is body & repair, John has made a name for himself as becoming one of the sports go-to painters. John and I spoke about the project and he came back to me with a plan to not only bring my vision to life, but give me a paint job that even Wally would have wanted for himself. Together with Axalta Coating Systems, the automotive industries biggest and best automotive paint products company, John went to work on sanding, priming, sanding some more and painting. He laid down a triple black base coat that looks wet even when its covered in dirt (which rarely happens, I’m anal like that) and not only put the paint on all the metal, but took our plastics and with Axalta’s extensive line of chemical prep products, gave them too a coat of paint that looks like the body of any steel car out there.
With the base coat laid out and looking prime, Melvin called in his buddy Al of Al’s Pinstriping. Al is an old-school pinstriping machine and just like the old timer that Wally called upon to finish the OG FatRod, Al came in and gave the FatRodv2 the finishing touches in needed. Hand applied, hot rod inspired striping was applied to the entire RZR. Every single logo on this machine was done by hand, there is not a sticker on this build. I gave the two full creative freedom, the only thing I asked was that the original “Big Daddy Roth” font was used for the FatRod emblems and that the custom “Full House” logo that Wally created for me was recreated. “Full House” was a logo Wally came up with to honor my own family. Three KINGS and Two QUEENS represent the 3 boys and two women that make up my immediate family. When Wally showed me his work the first time I almost cried with joy and I felt the love he had for me as a friend through his thought and detail. John and Al brought all those memories back and while I made sure that John had Al put his JM Collision logo into the paint, Al instead of putting his own instead graced the front hood with Wally’s iconic signature just like the original FatRod had. It was an awesome gesture that I know Wally would have appreciated.
The more you crawl on the FatRodv2 the more you will find and while it does have more bells and whistles including a custom Grant Products suede steering wheel and custom set Cycle Springs floor mats, everything I put on this machine serves a purpose. Putting the FatRodv2 together was an amazing process and I plan to be ripping this awesome Polaris RZR for a long time to come!
I can’t thank Tim and his team at SDR Motorsports enough for helping bring the FatRodv2 to life. I want to also extend a huge thanks to everyone who built, designed and supplied all of the rad products to help make this build a true one of a kind. Lastly, thank you to Polaris RZR for always believing in our projects and for providing such an awesome platform for us to build upon.
Until next time…
Owner: Joey D. / UTVUnderground.com
Model: 2016 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo
Builder: SDR Motorsports
Cage / Doors / Bumper: SDR Motorsports
Engine: Factory XP Turbo Pro-Star w/ Packard Performance 210hp Turbo Package @ 17lbs Boost
Exhaust: Packard Performance Stainless Steel performance header and exhaust system
Turbo: Borg Warner Ball Bearing EFR Turbo w/ Alloy Supercore
ECU: Packard Performance Performance Tune
Fuel System: Packard Performance piggyback fuel controller, fuel injectors, high flow fuel pump
Suspension: Grounded 4 boxed performance system (factory width)
Shocks: Walker Evans Racing 2.5″ Velocity Coil Overs
Sway Bar: Stock front, Walker Evans Racing “Walker Links” rear
Driveline: Sandcraft RCR Billet Carrier Bearing, Billet Engine Mounts
Gauge / Data Acquisition: Racepak iQ3 Digital Dash with Belt Temp, Oil Pressure, Boost sensors
Switches: Switch-Pro’s Digital Switch System
Navigation: Apple iPad Mini w/ Mob Armor Mount
Communications: PCI Race Radio & Intercom
Dash: Glazzkraft Carbon Fiber Dash System
Hood / Console: FourWerx Carbon Fiber Hood and Center Console
Seats: Simpson Buckets & Rear Bench
Harnesses: Simpson 5-Point
Paint: John Melvin (JM Collision) paint and body, Al’s Pin-striping, Axalta Coating Systems
Lighting: Vision X & Heretic
Electrical: UTV Wiring
Audio: SSV Works & Rockford Fosgate
Wheels: Walker Evans Racing 15×7 Beadlocks (dirt) DWT 15×7 Sector Beadlocks (sand)
Tires: BFGoodrich KR2 UTV Tires (dirt) Skat-Trak 32″ Paddles & Buffs (sand)
Accessories: Axia Alloys Mirrors & Clamps, Packard Performance billet body mounts
Fire Suppression: Safecraft Thermal RZR Suppression System