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1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ - After The Carnage

Posted in Features on August 1, 2004 Comment (0)
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1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ - After The Carnage

During the 2001 ARCA event season, Jerry Brace from Farmington, New Mexico, rolled and damaged his rockcrawling Jeep beyond his liking. This gave him the perfect opportunity to build a leaner, longer, more powerful 'crawler.

There's not much left of the '98 TJ Jerry started out with, with the exception of part of the frame, cowl, windshield, part of the front grille, and pieces of the tub's back corners. The frame had already been stretched 10 inches to a 104-inch wheelbase by American Expedition Vehicles in Missoula, Montana, for better steep-angle climbing ability. Jerry had the body removed from the chassis and had a Chevy 409ci engine, Atlas Highlander 3.1 transfer case, and TH350 transmission installed by S&S Engine and Machine in Farmington. S&S built the engine using Eagle connecting rods, KB pistons, a Scat crank, and a custom 7-quart oil pan. The heads were ported and polished, and fit with a Lunati cam and roller rockers. A 700-cfm Holley Commander 950 carburetor was placed over a Dart intake manifold. After the complete buildup, the engine was dyno'd at a whopping 425 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. To top things off, Campbell Enterprises built a custom exhaust for aspiration.

Other engine and drivetrain modifications included a custom-built aluminum radiator and fan shroud, Trans Go shift kit, Art Carr shifter, and Perma Cool transmission cooler. The transmission and transfer case are supported and protected by a custom-built crossmember. Custom CV driveshafts were built for transferring the power and torque to the axles.

A Currie high-pinion 9-inch axle with Ford Super Duty outers was placed in the front, with a Currie 9-inch also carrying the rear. Both axles were fit with ARB Air Lockers and geared to 4.10. Willwood front and rear disc brakes help stop the rig. The suspension was built with Pro Comp front and rear coil springs, and Fox custom-built shocks were used to dampen the ride. A custom four-link rear and three-link front suspension were also crafted by S&S Engine. The 'crawler rolls on 37x12.5R15 Goodyear MTRs fit on Weld wheels with Champion bead locks.

The rolling chassis was then taken to Campbell Enterprises in Chandler, Arizona, to complete the body and tub work. Shannon and Nick Campbell decided that only the original cowl, windshield, part of the front grille, and back corners would be used. The firewall, floor pan, and trunk area were fabricated from 1/8-inch-thick aluminum. The frame and side panels were narrowed just behind the door openings, making the rear of Jerry's Jeep 16 inches narrower than factory width. Custom front and rear bumpers were integrated into the frame.

Campbell Enterprises built the custom rollcage with 0.120-inch DOM tubing. The company also built the custom tilt-out aluminum dash fit with Auto Meter gauges, an aluminum rear trunk with lockable lid, and an aluminum fuel cell. For 'wheeling comfort and safety, Beard seats were bolted to the floorboards. The custom cloth-top and doors were created by Rock Gear Inc. in Farmington, New Mexico.

When we found Jerry out on the trail with his rig, it was on its maiden voyage and in very clean shape. For as much time, effort, and money as Jerry has invested in the new 'crawler, he skillfully 'wheeled the Jeep like a rental car; it certainly wasn't built to be a trailer queen. We can't tell you whether or not he'll enter any of the rockcrawling events with his new rig, but if he does, it will surely give the other competitors a run for their money.

SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle: '98 {{{Jeep Wrangler}}}
Owner/hometown: Jerry Brace/
  Farmington, New Mexico
Engine: 409ci Chevy
Transmission: TH350
Transfer case: Atlas 3.0:1
Frontend: Currie 9-inch, ARB Locker
Rearend: Currie 9-inch, ARB Locker
Suspension: Custom coil spring
Ring-and-pinion: 4.10
Tires/wheels: 37x12.5R15 Goodyear
  {{{M}}}/TRs/Weld wheels with
  Champion bead locks

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