1968 Jeepster Commando
Owner: Damien Aube
Resides in: Hinesburg, Vermont
The story: Aube says, “I’m an avid Jeep lover, owning several XJ, YJ, and CJ Jeeps, but my greatest find is a ’68 Jeepster Commando. It all started back in 2000 when we bought our house. The farm next door had a ’67 Jeepster Commando that had been sitting in the Vermont field for over 20 years. After a year of living there I was asked if I wanted the old Jeepster. My son and I dragged it home with my XJ and within an hour I actually got it running and it was able to move, but everything was so rusty there was no hope of repairing it (and there was the 100-plus bullet holes). Flash forward to 2011. I have been on the lookout for a better C101 Jeepster. My wife found one with a good body but the motor was bad. It was a very spur of the moment eBay purchase, a little stress over shipping from Rapid City, South Dakota, and I have a very straight and solid non-running ’67 Jeepster. Then a deal jumped up in my backyard, a ’68 that has a rebuilt engine and new tires in 2005. It was sitting in a barn five miles from my home. After trading some work for it, I now had two and pieces of a third. The ’68 was towed home, fluids changed, new battery added, and exhaust repaired. It is now up and running and I have put well over 500 miles on it, even some wheeling. Specs on it are: rebuilt 225 Dauntless V-6, Weiand intake, Holley 390cfm four-barrel carb, headers, T-90 three-speed transmission, Dana 20 T-case, Dana 44 rear axle, Dana 27 front axle, 3.73 gears, and 31-inch tires. Now to restore the ’67…”
1972 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser
Owner: Andrew Houpt
Resides in: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The story: Seventeen-year-old Houpt says, “In 1995, the year I was born, my father decided to purchase three ’70s FJ40 Land Cruisers for $5,000 (against my mother’s will, of course). At the time he already had an FJ40, which was his daily driver. My father planned to use three FJ40s as parts cars to restore the best one. That same year he spent $500 on Cruiser parts, which he placed in a plastic box in the back of one of the Cruisers. For a reason which I have yet to discover, my father let all four Cruisers sit untouched under some evergreens at my paternal grandparent’s house for the next 17 years. During that time rust holes spread like wildfire.
“In April 2011 I turned 16 and got my permit to drive with an adult. In Pennsylvania, the law says you must be 16½ in order to receive your driver’s license. So, I set my sights on buying a car in October 2011 when I would get my driver’s license. I had already saved up $4,000 towards a car, most of which came from stacking hay with my uncle Pat on his father-in-law’s farm. One day, my paternal grandparents and I were talking about cars and they jokingly said I should take one of the Cruisers so that I could get ‘those rust buckets’ off their property. One of the Cruisers, a ’72 FJ40, had a ’72 350ci Chevy motor under the hood and dual Cherry Bombs out the back. My interest in the Rustic Green ’72 Cruiser grew over the following weeks. Eventually I decided to spend $80 on a new battery for the Cruiser to see if I could get it running. One new battery and a gallon of fresh gas later, a miracle happened. The Cruiser snarled to life after a few seconds turning over. The sound of that 350 stuck in my head for days, and I knew I needed that Cruiser.
“My Uncle Pat and I were already close friends after working together on the farm. He is a machinist by trade. He is a car lover, like I am. We talked about fixing up the Cruiser together. We thought it would be a fun summer/fall project. Then by October I could have my very own car. We decided to go for it. I talked to my dad and he willingly gave me all four of the rusted out Cruisers. We brought the Cruiser to my maternal grandparents’ house where the cruiser would be closer to Pat and me.
“The months that followed were filled with excitement and frustration. As we dug further and further into the project we revealed many more problems that needed to be resolved. We replaced front fenders, rocker panels, quarter panels, holes in the body tub and holes in the hardtop. We were about halfway through the project and it was already December 2011! My uncle and I worked on the Cruiser every day of the week if our schedules permitted. The work went by slowly but it was done right. I learned so much over the course of the project that I cannot even begin to sum it up.
“Finally, in April 2012, we finished restoring my ’72 FJ40. I have so much pride in all the work I did on the Cruiser. I even painted myself! The Cruiser is currently being inspected. I have yet to drive it past the end of my maternal grandparents’ lane. I cannot wait for the day I get to drive the Cruiser off the inspection garage’s lot.”
1942 Ford GPW
Owner: Jon Franks
Resides in: Elon, North Carolina
The story: Franks says, “This is my ’42 Ford GPW that has been in the family since it was purchased at an Army surplus yard in California by my father at the end of World War II so he could get back home to North Carolina after being discharged from the Navy. The cross-country drive was rough. He always said the drive beat him and actually once he got home he parked it for over 10 years and then got it running again when my oldest brother was old enough to practice driving. The original odometer is still stuck on 4,192 miles from when he parked it when he got home. The speedo works, but in all my restoration projects I never wanted to mess that up. Has a lot of sentimental value to me. Me and my two brothers all learned to drive while growing up on a farm. It has been restored by me when I was in high school, again when I was in college, and again in 2010.”
Franks says the GPW has an L134ci engine, T-90 transmission, Spicer 18 T-case, Spicer 25 front axle, Spicer 23-2 rear axle with a Power-Loc, 4.88 gears, 31-inch Super Swamper LTBs, a Ramsey Patriot 9500 winch, and a complete disc brake conversion.