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.