2009 Mercedes-Benz GLK by Legendary Motorcar Company

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2008

Cars and sporting have always gone hand-in-hand with each other, and that is but one of the relationships that the Legendary Motorcar Company wanted to target when it retuned a Mercedes-Benz GLK into an exclusive model it called the Rock Crawler.

The project was spearheaded by Ryan Klutt, a 14-year-old skateboarder who happened to be the son of LMC founder Peter Klutt. When Klutt heard about the competition calling on tuners to modify the GLK, he and his team initially wanted to focus on off-road functionalities but eventually turned to a project that made the vehicle an all-around workhorse.

In fact, Klutt said, one of his ideas was simply to attach a rail to the roof deck of the GLK to accommodate a snowboard. The idea eventually became the focal point of the project. Now, with the resources of Legendary Motor at his disposal, Klutt and his team designed a version of the GLK that not only transports its passengers to hard-to-reach locations, but that can also be used as a tool to participate in the actual sport.

For starters, Klutt’s team attached a gas-powered tow winch to the GLK. Called a “Grinch Winch,” the mechanism is used for towing boarders through difficult road conditions. The GLK’s off-road prowess enables it to blaze through the tough roads with a boarder in tow at speeds of up to 50 km/h. The Grinch Winch can be used in either the front or rear of the modified GLK, and even features a hand throttle.

To use the customized GLK – called the Rock Crawler – in any boarding sport, Klutt and his team also designed special rails and a detachable ramp. A custom push bar is also integrated into the GLK as part of the modifications. The roof of the GLK was also modified as part of the project. Using stainless steel bars, LMC added a new roof together with a set of swing-out side-mounted rails. With these features, the GLK can then be used as a mobile ramp for skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding.

The LMC roof does not replace the original roof per se, but it acts as a protector to keep boarding debris and boards from damaging the sliding roof. Further additions to the roof include a light bar, which can provide illumination for boarders when jamming at night. Ron Gibbs joined Klutt’s team to take care of the visual aspect of the Rock Crawler. Gibbs used his artistic skills to create stunning imagery as decals for the Rock Crawler.

Gibbs’ work jived perfectly with the Arctic white paint finish that’s standard to the GLK, providing a unique look that expresses exactly the sporting nature that the Rock Crawler is made to assume. To make the Rock Crawler ideal for ANY driving condition, Klutt and his team realized that they must augment the ride height of their GLK by 38 millimeters while reducing the size of the wheel. This is contrary to other participants in the competition, who increased their GLK’s wheels and made the vehicle hug the ground closer than standard.

As a result, the LMC GLK carried 18-inch Jesse James Black-Widow rims. These rims are the only ones capable of handling all kinds of terrain, and the only ones compatible with the Toyo Open Country AT mudder tires. Legendary worked with the National Four Wheel Drive association to properly select the wheel-and-tire combination of the Rock Crawler.

Most of the modifications to the Rock Crawler, however, focused on the exterior. The interior remains the same. The GLK already has enough space for passengers and boarders’ cargo in the standard configuration.

Even the engine was left alone, as Legendary is already satisfied with the performance of the 3.5-litre V6 engine under the hood of the GLK 350. There’s enough pulling power, Ken Stewart of LMC said, for the activities that the Rock Crawler was envisioned to be used for. Even the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive was left as it was for the project.

Press Release

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.

Inside, Legendary has left the standard interior. The GLK's base dimensions provide plenty of stowage area for all manner of sporting gear, including boards and bikes.

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."

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