The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

1975 Chevrolet Pickup – Unidentified Fighting Object

Putting the K.I.S.S. Principle to Work in No Country for Off-the-Lot Vehicles

Photos by: Straight 8

We know what you're thinking. Is this Ivan “Ironman” Stewart's tactical vehicle or some addition to Area 51's security fleet? We're going to keep you guessing for the moment and speak to a belief that often gets reiterated in the pages of RECOIL…ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. So when it comes to dreaming up your bug-out/survival vehicle blueprints, while it may seem like a good idea to pile on every single piece of cool gear you can dream of (after all, you might need it), it may actually interfere with mobility more than you think.

Would you believe this actually started life as a 1975 Chevy ½-ton pickup? We certainly had a hard time wrapping our heads around that, but when its owner/builder John Kanicsar started telling us what the vehicle was used for, we couldn't help but be intrigued by the ingenuity of it all. Sparse on bling, yes, but the Southern Arizona desert where it spends most of its time doesn't really care about cool paintjobs and expensive gear. Its 9,500 square miles are desolate, difficult to traverse, and a major thoroughfare for illegal activity. So when you've got both the elements and the criminal component to contend with, you quickly begin to understand that less is more when you need a vehicle robust enough to handle it. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere is something you want to avoid at all costs.


The “Multipurpose Off-road Tactical Vehicle,” or MOTiV as it's called, is the culmination of Hunter Offroad owner John Kanicsar's fabricator background, experience working in law enforcement, and four-wheeling knowledge. After participating in some search-and-rescue operations, he saw how law enforcement vehicles and 4×4 driving methods weren't as practical as they could be. John knew he could create something with high clearance for climbing, high mobility, and high payload, all while still being street legal. So he showed up at the next big search with something he'd built. From then on, he's been developing vehicles as well as teaching recovery tactics, search-and-rescue, and off-road driving techniques to everyone from police to Special Forces around the country.

The MOTiV is actually the third vehicle of its type that Kanicsar has built — and it's still an evolving platform. John is usually the guy behind the wheel when the truck is tapped to go out into the field, so he's the perfect person to know what needs to be modified and how. Why an old Chevy pickup and not some brand-new 4×4 or UTV? The biggest answer is simplicity. There are aspects of one that you can't really get on the other. John wanted the flexibility and durability of a UTV, but something that can carry the weight and has the speed of a full-size truck.

Drawing from his experience, John wanted a platform with solid ½-ton axles, an automatic transmission, and a reliable powerplant. That good ol' Chevy 350 is still moving this rig around and sports a Holley Truck Avenger carb, mechanical fuel pump, and RV cam for torque at lower rpm. The absence of electronics on the engine is deliberate, because no one wants to be pinning down problems with a voltmeter out in the desert. It's all connected to the venerable TH350 trans with an NP-203 transfer case. The rear is a locking 12-bolt, while the front differential is a 10-bolt with an open carrier.


Most of the original Chevy frame and body is gone. The cage is made out of 2-inch, 120-wall tubing, and ABS plastic panels throughout keep things light while concealing Level IIIA ballistic soft armor panels behind them that can be pulled out and used as shields if necessary. John wanted a suspension that'd handle a substantial weight change and kept the leaf springs since they tend to be more dependable and predictable, have good flexibility, and behave under high speeds better than coils under varying weight demands of crew or cargo. The rear springs were moved inboard about 5 inches for improved left/right articulation and off-road travel, while maintaining weight capacity.

Interior appointments are pretty meager, and you may notice the floor is actually open mesh. The idea there is to let debris fall out easier, allow better airflow, keep the heat down, and enable the driver to see through the floor if he gets hung up on something — rather than require someone to get out and guide him. Aftermarket seats with four-point harnesses and Blac-Rac rifle locks keep everyone and their weapons safely strapped in. Ammo cans hide a variety of comm equipment. Rigid Industries light bars and IR lights allow the truck to keep things illuminated or operate in no-light conditions. And in case you're still wondering how this is still street legal, it was retitled as special construction to be in compliance since it doesn't have much of its original garb.

Since the MOTiV gets some serious use and abuse, improvements will continue to be made. From locating lost kids to assisting in high-risk special operations support, John's unique knowledge and creation has undoubtedly saved lives — and that's what it's all about. John is spending more time teaching some of his hard-earned lessons in the field working as a vehicle instructor and plans to branch out into the civilian market so there may be MOTiVs popping up at agencies and driveways near you.


1975 Chevy Customized 4×4 ½-ton pickup
350 V-8
TH350 automatic

1 Ballistic Armor
Make: Custom
Model: Levell IIIA

2 Roll Cage
Make: Custom
Model: 2-inch, 120-wall tubing

3 Combo Light
Make: Rigid Industries
Model: 10-inch E Series white/IR light prototype

4 Combo Light
Make: Rigid Industries
Model: R-46 LED light

5 Tires
Make: Pro Comp
Model: Xterrain 37x14x16

6 Wheels
Make: Eagle
Model: Aluminum 16×8


1 LED Light Bar
Make: Rigid Industries
Model: E2 20-inch combo

2 Infrared Light
Make: Rigid Industries
Model: E2 10-inch combo

3 Winch
Make: Warn
Model: 9,500-pound high-speed winch with high-strength synthetic line

4 Red and Blue Lights
Make: Code 3
Model: Single Head LED X Series

5 LED Light
Make: Rigid Industries
Model: Dually Diffused Single

6 Backpack
Make: Grey Ghost Gear
Model: Legacy Three-Day Pack

7 Vehicle Blowout Kit
Make: Delta
Model: Steel Side Storage Box

8 Backpack
Make: Grey Ghost Gear
Model: Predator Patrol 45 PLCE


1 Red and Blue Lights
Make: Code 3
Model: Dual Head LED X Series

2 Rifle
Make: Grey Ghost Precision
Model: .308 with Vortex Optic

3 Rifle
Make: Grey Ghost Precision
Model: .223/5.56 Light Rifle with Vortex Optic

4 Rifle Lock
Make: Blac-Rac
Model: 1070

5 Harnesses
Make: RCI
Model: Four-point

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