UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

Daniel Zul's monster power and one-off parts Can-Am X3

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Photos by Juli Moore/Dirt n Dunz Photography

One look at the roost flying and the top-fuel-type sidewall wrinkles in those Blackbird III paddle tires will convince everyone that this is one powerful machine.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

Dune enthusiast Daniel Zul first discovered the magic sandbox known as Glamis and the excitement of throwing sand in 2006. Like many of us off-road maniacs, he caught the bug from friends while in high school. At that time the fun was happening on quads. A few years of Glamis trips went by on the quads, but eventually the UTV market hit. After some time Zul made the jump to a Can-Am Maverick X3.

From his point of view there was a problem: he wasn’t the only person with one. In fact, the dunes were teaming with happy X3 owners. He wanted his X3 to be different from the X3 herd, but he opted for one step further. He was determined that his Can-Am would actually be unique. It needed to stand out from the crowd.

You would think the easy way to stand out is with disco lights, a booming stereo and a wild wrap, but it seems like everyone does that. In the case of Zul’s X3, there are 4-foot Buggy Whips LED whips and a JL Audio system. It has a 1000-watt marine amp and two 10-inch subwoofers, but it is no all-show rolling boom box.

It is harder to build in performance that can leave its mark on the sand. This X3 leaves two long, deep roost trenches in the sand every time Zul mashes the throttle.

Zul chose a classy but subdued single-color wrap from Cactus Wraps, so the exterior isn’t gripping every eye in the vicinity. If the car is under power, the unique properties are obvious. If it isn’t, you need to look inside and see all of the subtle custom touches. Some of those touches are hand-formed, one-off features that are found on no other machine.

Some ultra-powerful UTVs are only fit to zoom around in straight lines, but Daniel Zul made sure that his car will still carve through the dunes in search of fun.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

MAKING IT HAPPEN

Zul wasn’t satisfied with rocket power and unique features. He wanted it to be able to take a beating flying through whoops, dunes and over jumps. That magic combo became possible when he located Maxx, the owner of Double-X Designs in Phoenix, Arizona. Maxx put the car together initially, and Zul has had it back for further changes and upgrades. To satisfy Zul’s desire for one-off uniqueness, Maxx created a handmade dash and center console with a huge, integrated iPad! Zul not only specified the components he wanted to use, but those for every aspect of the build, and Maxx took care of designing the rest.

One huge part of the build is a massively powerful Evolution Powersports race engine package with a Stage 2 head and closed-deck block with cast-in sleeves. Carrillo rods keep the coated Carrillo pistons sliding up and down in those sleeves. With the basic engine assembled, it was time to build more power with forced induction and better exhaust.

The Can-Am doesn’t just run around throwing sand. It spends much of its run time ripping around, cutting turns and finding fun routes through the dunes.

The pressurized induction search started with an Evo Dynomite turbo system mated with a race intercooler, a billet fuel rail, a billet plenum and an air intake. It isn’t all Evo products. Treal Performance was the source for the PwrTune silicon intercooler pipe kit and Turbosmart blow-off valve. It has a Magnus exhaust to evacuate burned fuel from the engine.

Even without an arrest-me-bright exterior, Daniel Zul’s Can-Am X3 is a looker. It has a rich, classy look that makes the pops of color like the King shocks really stand out.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

This X3 makes enormous power, so it required a custom STM clutch package to keep the belt alive. The STM parts are so lovingly carved from billet aluminum, but they aren’t for show. It also has some race car features, like an oil-catch can and a K&T Performance scatter shield. The clutches and belt run in the open, but the perimeter is surrounded to prevent parts from flying around if things get ugly. 

The project even added a CBR radiator for better cooling. It fits in the stock location, and Double-X Designs added gussets for strength. It also has an Evo bed-delete kit to lighten the car and allow better access to the engine bay.

Top: Some people would say that this is where the fun happens. Evo Powersports made sure that this is a strong engine that produces major power.

CORRALLING THE POWER

Wise men simply don’t put this sort of horsepower in a stock chassis. The first steps were to prepare the chassis with a stout and safe TMW shorty cage and bulkhead gusset kit. Further strengthening came from a custom HMD front shock tower mount, and ZRP trailing-arm braces and rear radius rod plate. At that point it was time to sideline all of the stock suspension.

It was already a 72-inch car, so the A-arms and trailing arms were supplanted with HCR Racing Duner OEM-replacement front A-arms and OEM replacement trailing arms. HCR believes in King Off-Road Racing shocks, and after using them, Zul is a fan of the front 2.5 internal-bypass piggyback coil-over and rear 3.0 internal-bypass coil-over shocks. All four shocks have finned piggyback or remote reservoirs with adjusters. King was also the source for the rear sway bar links.

RCV Performance Products has Ultimate 300M ball joints, and Zul wanted that added strength, so Maxx ordered them. ZRP added more quality parts, including rear radius rod dog bones, a 7075 aluminum high-clearance billet radius rod set, 7075 front double-shear capped knuckle set, billet hubs with heavy-duty wheel studs, Desert Series tie-rods and a fixed front sway-bar link set.

Bottom: The custom HMD brace is integrated into the frame. The massive King shocks have finned reservoirs and damping adjustments.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

PUTTING IT OUT THERE

Zul felt the need for more heavy-duty parts, so he decided on Turner Cycles’ custom 33-spline axles and a Halo locker in the front differential. Sandcraft is famous for drive-line support bearings, but the company makes much more. Zul felt the X3 deserved a full chromoly drive line with a sealed carrier bearing.

Other major body and chassis parts were TMW Offroad Stealth doors and TMW’s famous pre-runner front bumper. Since this is primarily a sand car, it was fitted with light and strong DWT wheels and Sand Tires Unlimited paddle tires. Since it remains a four-wheel-drive machine, it got 31-inch Desert Trak front tires that combine a dune-typical center rib for steering with small paddles radiating to the side from that center rib. It is a competition cut, so the tire is lightened, and some of the small paddles are cut back. The rear is 31-inch Blackbird III paddle tires. They are also lightened with all excess rubber skimmed from the carcass, and that carcass has 16 large paddles on it. A tire that large with so many paddles would slow down a lesser machine, but the Zul X3 handles them easily.

When the conditions are right, Daniel Zul’s Can-Am X3 will lift and carry the front wheels. It runs strong, and it has a chassis built to handle all of the performance

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

INSIDE JOB

If you are talking percentages, the largest changes to the interior are the Sparco racing seats and racing steering wheel combination. In terms of volume of work, the one-off dash takes precedence. It not only holds the giant iPad for the LeadNav GPS, but the audio system and two speakers, Switchpro switch panel, PCI Race Radios radio and intercom, as well as the control for the adjustable helmet air system. It also holds the AEM Electronics MXG data-logger screen that replaces the stock gauge cluster and the three X-series gauges that monitor boost pressure, water temperature and battery condition. There is a B&M shifter sticking out of the center console.

THE JOURNEY AND DESTINATION

When Zul began this project, he wanted a car that was unique. Part of the recipe was to make the car powerful enough to thrive in sand-drag competition, but versatile and reliable enough to handle hard dune driving—something unique that nobody else had, yet a car that showcases the best parts in the UTV industry.

HCR likes to mate its suspension products with King shocks. They are great-looking shocks, and car owner Daniel Zul is impressed with the capabilities of the shocks.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

A project like this takes time, money and dedication to the concept. The true measure of any project is the satisfaction of the owner. Daniel Zul is proud of and thrilled with the look and the performance of the final product. During the build he ferried the machine from California to Arizona for the build, and even shipped it to Wisconsin for the major engine performance work.

The interior looks like something between a race car and a space ship. The Double-X Design’s dash looks very clean while integrating a ton of tech and electronics.

But Zul is certain that his car is the best-looking, most fun and rewarding Can-Am X3 in the dunes. That is the definition of success for a project like this. It is truly impressive seeing how hard the car accelerates. It throws some serious sand!

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Overall, the Zul X3 has a mean, compact, streamlined and purposeful look. Unlike many cars, this one can back up the attitude with performance.

UTV PROJECT: CAN-AM X3

PARTS AND SERVICES

AEM ELECTRONICS: (310) 484-2322, www.aemelectronics.com

X-series gauges (boost, water temp, battery): $500

MXG (data-logger version): $2599

B&M PERFORMANCE & OFF-ROAD: www.holley.com

XDR gated shifter: $503

BUGGY WHIPS, INC: www.buggywhip.com

4-foot LED whip: $385

CBR PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS: (951) 245-2900, www.cbr-performance.com

Stock-fit radiator: NA

CACTUS WRAPS: (480) 597-7974, www.cactuswraps.com

Single color wrap: Varies

DOUBLE-X DESIGNS: www.doublexdesigns.us

One-off handmade dash: Varies

Major project assembly: Varies

Radiator gusset: Varies

DWT RACING: (800) race-rim, www.dwtracing.com

Ultimate Sport wheels: N/A

EVOLUTION POWERSPORTS: (715) 247-3862, www.evopowersports.com

Dynomite turbo system: $4483.81

Race intercooler: $1299

Magnus exhaust: $1149

Evo race engine Package (Stage 2 head/block): Call

Billet fuel rail: $229

Billet plenum: $1999

Air intake: $339

Oil catch can: $199

Bed delete: $329

Custom STM clutch package: $2804

FOURWERX CARBON: (262) 501-9696, www.fwcarbon.com

Carbon fiber cage trim: $275

FULLRIVER BATTERY: (800) 522-8191, www.fullriverbattery.com

Full throttle FT230 battery: $199.99

HALO LOCKERS: (727) 230-7803, www.halolockers.com

Halo 30 big-axle 33-spline for X3: $2,995.00

HCR RACING: (888) 928-7223, www.hcrracing.com

Maverick X3 duner OEM replacement front A-arms: $1999.99

Maverick X3 duner OEM replacement trailing arms: $1999.99

HMD shock tower mount (Integrated to chassis): N/A

JL Audio System, 1000w Marine amp, 2 10” subs: N/A

MV1000/1 Monoblock Class D Marine subwoofer amplifier, 1000W: $949.99

KING OFF-ROAD RACING SHOCKS: (714) 530-8701, ww.kingshocks.com

Maverick X3 front 2.5 internal bypass piggyback coil-over w/finned reservoir w/adjuster: N/A

Maverick X3 rear 3.0 internal bypass coil-over w/finned remote reservoir w/adjuster: N/A 

Sway bar links: N/A 

K&T PERFORMANCE: (801) 825-5870, www.ktperformance.com

X3 scatter shield: $269.99

LEADNAV ONLINE SUPPLY: www.leadnavsupply.com

GPS antenna: N/A

MOTEC USA: www.motecusa.com

Standalone M-130 package: N/A

LAMBDA sensor: N/A

PCI RACE RADIOS: (800) 869-5636, www.pciraceradios.com

RaceAir Boost package: $539.99

Elite California Ultimate 2: $1,199.95

RCV PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS: www.rcvperformance.com

Can-Am X3 Ultimate 300M ball joints: $129.95 ea.

SANDCRAFT RCR MOTORSPORTS: (480) 539-4438, www.sandcraftmotorsports.com

Chromoly drive line w/ carrier bearing: $1100

SPARCO USA: www.sparcousa.com

R 353 steering wheel: $270

Qrt-R Race seats: $875 ea.

SAND TIRES UNLIMITED: www.sandtiresunlimited.com

31” Desert Trak Comp cut: N/A

STU 31” Blackbird II: N/A

SWITCH-PROS: (949) 581-2991, www.switchpros.com

SP9100 8-switch panel power system: N/A

TMW OFF-ROAD: www.tmwoffroad.com

Pre-runner front bumper: $375

Bulkhead gusset kit: $449

Stealth 2 doors: $899

X3 stealth 2 seat cage: $1,499.99

TREAL PERFORMANCE: www.trealperformance.com

PwrTune silicon intercooler pipe kit with Turbosmart BOV: $315

TURNER CYCLES: www.turnercycles.com 

Custom 33-spline axles: $650

ZOLLINGER RACING PRODUCTS: (435) 753-2733,
www.zollingerracingproducts.com

X3 trailing arm brace: $275

Radius rod plate: $235

Radius rod dog bones (set of 3): $210

7075 72” high-clearance billet radius rod set (6): $1,320

7075 X3 front double-shear capped knuckle set: $3,000

X3 Billet AN water pump cover: $225

Billet hubs: $1000

X3 Desert Series tie-rods: $400

X3 fixed front sway bar link set: $195

X3 heavy-duty wheel studs (4): $65 ea. wheel

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