Photos by Judy Fedd
Big Daddy of Arctic Cats is Bad 2 Da’ Bone
Cat Daddy's creator, Steel Horses
mechanic Darrell Dunn
Making its debut at the 2006 High Lifter ATV
Mud Nationals, “Cat Daddy,” an Arctic Cat 500 on
44 inch tires, created a buzz in the ATV world.
The lime green monster ATV won the “Bad 2
Da’Bone” championship and is now drawing
interest from around the country.
Owner John Williams of Lufkin, Texas says the
calls and emails have even included ones from
Canada and Great Britain, various people who
read about Cat Daddy online and are interested
in it. And the momentum is building, says
Williams. People from other states have heard
about it and make the trip to see it, he says.
Some are just passing by, on their way to the
nearby Shiloh Ridge in Alto. When Cat Daddy is
parked in front of Williams’ “Steel Horses”
Arctic Cat ATV shop it creates a “traffic jam”
and customers have a difficult time getting in
the parking lot, he says.
“We’ve got almost too much publicity,” says
Williams. “It kind of caught us off guard.”
But one cannot really have too much publicity,
he says, and Cat Daddy seems to be a “blessing
in disguise.” Business is increasing and offers
to show the Arctic Cat, as well as to buy it,
are pouring in, he says.
What is causing all of the excitement is not
just the size of Cat Daddy, although size alone
certainly makes it stand out, but also how it is
constructed. Cat Daddy is the custom creation of
Steel Horses mechanic Darrell Dunn, and it is
not simply an ATV with a lift kit.
Dunn, who has a passion for building off-road
vehicles, spent about a year trying to convince
Williams to let him build a monster ATV.
“He kept saying ‘I want to put an Arctic Cat on
44s, I want to put an Arctic Cat on 44s’,” says
William, “and I said “44s?! Good Lord!”
“I like to put big tires on everything,” says
Williams’ sons, Jeffrey and Justin, also wanted
a monster ATV and Dunn said he had figured out
how to build it, so when a 2005 Arctic Cat
arrived as a trade-in, Williams finally agreed
to supply it for the project.
"Cat Daddy' next to a stock Arctic Cat
Being an Arctic Cat dealer, Williams wanted to
keep as much of the ATV stock as possible. The
top half of it is, stock body, frame and engine,
although it seems difficult to believe when it
parked next to a stock Arctic Cat 500
just look so different!
The difference comes from what is underneath
that stock top half. The bottom is basically
“old school four-wheel drive,” customized by
Dunn. Enormous Super Swamper 44 TSL tires are
mounted on Mickey Thompson chrome rims -- 15x12s
in the front and 18.5x15s in the rear. Dunn used
Suzuki Samurai front and rear axles and
customized the rest of the suspension to make it
work. It has a
triangulated four link front and
back suspension, ¾ heim joints and factory coil
over shocks. Combinations of the custom gearing
(5.12 axle ratio, locked rear end; 2.4 ratio
transfer case; 1.6 chain drive, which is being
changed to 1.1 gear drive; 2.4 ratio low range)
makes Cat Daddy haul with the stock Arctic Cat
500, 32 horsepower engine. Dunn is still working
on the gearing, making modifications, and has
yet to determine all the possible gear ratios.
When sitting on the seat, your head is about
eight feet off of the ground. The handlebar
height is about six feet and the seat height is
about five and a half feet. You get in the seat
by climbing on the tires and lifting up, and
once there you feel compelled to try it out,
knowing it will be fun!
Williams says “it rides excellent.”
“A lot of people say ‘oh, that thing looks like
it would be unstable,” says Williams, “but it
does good.” Having most of the weight on the
bottom end helps, he says.
Dunn says he had wanted to enter Cat Daddy in
more of the competitions, but Williams prefers
to keep it for show.
“The first time they took it out, Darrell and
Jeffery played on it a little bit,” says
Williams, “and it took six hours cleaning it
back up. I had it all powder coated and
everything was so pretty, and they wanted to get
The championship Cat Daddy won, the “High Lifter
ATV Mud Nationals Dynojet Bad 2 Da’ Bone,” is
the mud nationals’ show competition. In it,
spectators vote on who has the most impressive
“Now it’s opened up a whole new ballgame,” says
Dunn. “Everybody’s going to be trying to come
out with something bigger and better.”
“Next year there’ll be 15-20 of them just like
it,” says Williams.
Dunn says when he first put Cat Daddy together
people told him he should patent it, but he says
“there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“It’s just old stuff put in a new
configuration,” he says.
Dunn says he has built “monster crawlers” most
of his life, but ATVs are much easier to work
with because they are smaller and can be moved
around by one person. He just bought a new
Arctic Cat Prowler, a side by side, and plans to
use it to make his own monster ATV, which he
says will be even bigger than Cat Daddy. He
hopes to have at least two monster ATVs in time
for next year’s national event -- one for show
and one to play with.
But for now, Cat Daddy, which Williams calls a
“four-wheeler on steroids” is considered the
biggest ATV around, and it is certainly a
Williams showed Cat Daddy at a recent monster
truck show with Big Foot and others, and has had
offers to participate in more. They’ve also
shown it at charitable events, and he says
everyone loves it!
“Believe me it is the biggest crowd pleaser I
have ever dealt with,” says Williams. “The
crowds go crazy over it.”