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Colorado Crawlin'

Rear Passenger Side View
John Cappa | Writer
Posted January 1, 2002

Getting in a Few Runs Before Winter

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  • We were sure Cody Schumann’s ’90 Wrangler had more polish than a wax factory. But he still drove the hard lines and ended up with some boogers in the paint and a mangled fender flare. The engine is a 258 bored 0.060-inch over and plugged with flat top pistons, a burlier cam, a header, and Howell EFI. The Dana 44 front and rear axles were cannibalized from a Wagoneer. A spring-over with custom springs and a body-lift make room for the 36-inch Swampers on 15x10 wheels. For now the factory AX-15 manual and NP231 with a heavy-duty tailshaft kit make up the driveline but a TH700-R4 and Atlas 3.8 are in the plans.

  • Mike Weaver’s ’97 TJ has gone through three completely different buildups until he ended up with what you see here. The axles are Dynatrac high-pinion Dana 60s front and rear with ARB Air Lockers and 5.13 gears spinning 39.5-inch Swampers. The tires are cleared with a totally custom link suspension with 2-inch diameter Sway-A-Way coilover shocks all the way around. The rest of the driveline consists of a mostly stock 4.0L and a factory three-speed automatic mated to an Atlas 3.8 transfer case. It clung to the trail like peanut butter on a dog tongue.

  • Scooter Geram’s ’98 TJ is built with nothing but bolt-on parts. After messing around with a few different lift kits he found that 4-inch Pro Comp coils, urethane coil spacers, Currie arms, and Rancho shocks provided the lift he needed and the performance he wanted. A 1-inch body lift was added to clear the 35-inch Goodyear MTRs on 15x8 black steel wheels.

  • Rex Ashton saved a little money building his ’91 Wrangler by being a guinea pig for some of Avalanche’s new products. Dana 44s were pulled from a Grand Wagoneer and stuffed with Detroit Lockers and 4.56 gears. A spring-over and a 1-inch body lift make room for 35-inch Swampers on MRT bead lock wheels. We dug the slick cage and the flush LED taillights. The 4.0L engine, AX-15 tranny, and NP231 transfer case are all stock. Although a slip-yoke eliminator kit and a CV driveshaft bring up the rear of the 231.

  • Bob “Drive-it-like-you-stole-it” Dale managed to sneak into Josh Lowenstein’s battered ’51 CJ-3A and give it a workout. The Buick 225 V-6 sounds like a Briggs & Stratton but managed to run regardless. It’s mated to a TH350 transmission and a Spicer 18 transfer case that splits power to front-and-rear Dana 44s stuffed with 5.38 gears and ARBs.

  • We couldn’t figure out why Randy Whitney named his ’90 Wrangler Mr. Magoo unless he wanted to alert people that he drives like a blind man. Anyway, the swapped-in Dana 44 front and AMC 20 rear are stuffed with ARB Air Lockers and 4.56 gears. A spring-over with Alcan springs provides about 51/2 inches of lift. A 2-inch body lift makes even more room for the 36-inch Swampers to stuff. Future plans include a Dana 60 rear axle, automatic transmission, and an Atlas transfer case.

  • Eric Cooke had only recently pulled his ’80 CJ-5 out of storage. Compared to the rest of the crew it looked almost completely stock with the exception of 4.56 gears, Lock-Rights front and rear, a 3 1/2-inch lift, and 33-inch BFG Mud-Terrains on 15x10 black steel wheels. He drove to the trail, managed all of the obstacles with some sputtering from the carb, and then turned around and drove it home, too. Maybe trailers are for sissies.

The easiest way to get into a magazine is to do crazy stupid things in your Jeep. Unfortunately that’s the best way to ruin your Jeep, too, so make sure the cameras are around when you do it. It had been at least a week or two since we had gotten out of the office to go ’wheeling and over a month since we had been on a real road trip to catch some action. So we jumped at an invitation from Clifton Slay of Avalanche Engineering to visit Carnage Canyon near Boulder, Colorado, and Patriot in the Independence Trail System near Colorado Springs. Carnage Canyon has several bypasses that allow less modified Jeeps pass the tougher sections, but there are plenty of obstacles to keep built Jeeps busy. Patriot is just plain nasty. You don’t want your Jeep to be too wide but you don’t want it to be too narrow either. There are several ledges and a good possibility for body damage. Clifton has been known to give us the kind of action our cameras like so we figured a whole crew of his buddies would certainly keep our trigger fingers busy. Here’s what we saw.