Whether you are a car fanatic or don’t know the meaning of chassis dyno tuning, you probably have heard of Bigfoot. It’s a name synonymous with Monster Truck Rallies—rooted in redneck lore. Yet the brand name didn’t start out that way. While today Bigfoot is a brand name with many generations and models in its repertoire, back in 1979 it was Bob Chandler’s concept hot rod and is considered the “original monster truck.”
Originally, Chandler, a former construction worker from St. Louis, Missouri, was simply looking for ways to reduce his many four-wheeling wreckage costs. In fact, that is where the name “Bigfoot” originated from. He asked his friend, Ron MacGruder, why he kept wrecking and MacGruder responded “It’s ‘cause of your big foot!”
Chandler’s first major modification was to add steering that could be controlled from either the front or rear axle. This made the truck operable in case of breakage and effectively made it a 4x4x4. He started taking Bigfoot to car shows and tractor pulls in ’79, but it was a video that he made in ’81 that truly started the legend and launched the modern Monster Truck format.
Chandler set up a couple of dilapidated cars in an open field and taped them being crushed by Bigfoot. While he originally made the tape as joke, when he began playing it at his shop, it started gaining attention, so much so that request after request for repeat performances rolled in, eventually leading to a Ford sponsorship and iconic status. In addition, Bigfoot’s immense popularity led to the truck’s appearance in the 1981 film, Take This Job and Shove It, directed by Gus Trikonis.
In 1986, Chandler built Bigfoot 5, which the Guinness Book of World Records dubbed the “World’s Tallest, Wildest and Strongest Monster Truck.” The later model Bigfoots boasted insane horsepower, 572 cubic inch engines that ripped off anywhere between 1200-1500 bhp. We would almost be scared to dyno run that bad boy!