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Emerald in the Rough

Posted in Features on May 21, 2004
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04074wd 01z+1988 Jeep YJ+Front Drivers Side View On Rocks
04074wd 06z+1988 Jeep YJ+Rear Passengers Side View
This custom hybrid machine was constructed from a burned-out YJ and salvaged CJ parts, and a lot of custom work. This custom hybrid machine was constructed from a burned-out YJ and salvaged CJ parts, and a lot of custom work.
Although this Jeep looks like a showpiece, it's 'wheeled like a rental. Although this Jeep looks like a showpiece, it's 'wheeled like a rental.
The front axle is a custom-built 9-inch Ford by Sunray Engineering. The front axle is a custom-built 9-inch Ford by Sunray Engineering.
The Jeep rolls on 37-inch Super Swamper TSLs fit over custom-built Sunray bead-lock wheels. The rollcage was built by Destroye Chassis and Rafe. The Jeep rolls on 37-inch Super Swamper TSLs fit over custom-built Sunray bead-lock wheels. The rollcage was built by Destroye Chassis and Rafe.
The custom Sunray traction plates also double as limiting straps. The custom Sunray traction plates also double as limiting straps.
A '90 383ci engine powers the Jeep. A '90 383ci engine powers the Jeep.
The interior features a custom dash with Dakota Digital gauges and Corbeau seats. The interior features a custom dash with Dakota Digital gauges and Corbeau seats.
The rear suspension uses a custom four-link suspension and coil spring conversion. The rear suspension uses a custom four-link suspension and coil spring conversion.

It's hard to imagine that this beautifully reincarnated CJ/YJ hybrid started as a burned Jeep and tub scavenged from the local salvage yard. Although this rig may sport pristine good looks, make no mistake about it -- this rig is right at home on the toughest trails. That's exactly where we found Rafe Williams and his creation, making short work of some of the harshest trails New Mexico has to offer.

Rafe told us that when his old CJs were completely worn out, he decided to build another Jeep with a stronger frame and longer wheelbase. He visited his friends at Chrysler Heaven Salvage Yard in Fort Worth, Texas, and collected the YJ and CJ parts he needed to build his custom 'crawler. Starting with a YJ frame, he cut the rear section off and built a new rear subframe with four-link attachment points. The frame was then stripped and painted by TMM Fabrication. Next, a YJ tub was strategically placed on the frame. A CJ grille shell, custom front fenders, and a new CJ hood were then bolted to the Jeep. Tom's Auto Body of Boyd, Texas, completed the high-quality bodywork using PPG paint in a '93 Honda Del Sol color. B&S Sheetmetal built a custom fuel tank and helped Rafe with the custom front fenders.

Powering this custom hybrid Jeep is a '90 Chevy 383ci engine built by Sunray Engineering in Weatherford, Texas. The engine features 441X ported heads, an aluminum intake manifold, a Schneider cam, throttle-body injection, Speedway Motors' 1-5/8-inch headers, and a custom exhaust. Churning the engine power to the ground is a built 700R4 transmission and 208 New Process transfer case geared to 2.6:1. Sunray Engineering also built custom double-cardan driveshafts with forged yokes.

The front and rear axles were built from 9-inch Ford 'housings, and both have 35-spline axles, Detroit Lockers, and ring-and-pinions geared to 5.43. The rear suspension consists of a custom four-link setup, built with 1-3/4-inch DOM tubing and using 14-inch Afco coil springs. A 1-1/2-inch spring-over conversion kit from Rubicon Express was fabricated for the front suspension. Explorer Pro Comp ES3000 shocks were used to dampen the front and rear.

Other custom work performed on the 'crawler by Rafe included cutting the rear fenders for tire clearance, custom front and rear air-tank bumpers, a custom dash with Dakota Digital gauges, aluminum-covered rear storage, Beard seats, and a custom rollcage by Destroyer Chassis and Rafe.

The first thing people mention when noticing this rig is that it sure is a nice looking Jeep. Don't let the good looks fool you, though. It's driven hard. While out on the trail with Rafe, we couldn't help but notice how easily this 'crawler walked up and over the toughest obstacles. Our hats are off to a capable and tough, quality-built machine.

SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle:'88 YJ and '74 CJ Jeep parts
Owner/hometown: Rafe Williams/Boyd, Texas
Engine: '90 383ci Chevy
Induction: TBI
Transmission: 700R4
Transfer case: NP208
Frontend: 9-inch Ford
Rearend: 9-inch Ford
Ring-and-pinion: 5.43
Suspension: SOA front, rear coil springs
Tires/wheels: Super Swamper TSL
 42x16.5-15s/15x10-inch
  Eaton bead locks

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