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2003 Jeep Wrangler YJ - Extreme Family Hauler

Front Drivers Side View Descending Rocks
Kevin McNulty | Writer
Posted August 1, 2005

One tough custom-built Wrangler

Bruce Drechel tells us that his beast of a Jeep is a TJ, or a YJ, or something of the two combined. We couldn't find any rectangular headlights or any other traces of YJ, and since Bruce has registered it as an '03 TJ, that's what we'll call it. The owner and his family hail from South Jordan, Utah, and taken the town's proximity to Moab and the family's passion for extreme 'wheeling, we can relate to the extreme buildup. We found the family headed to Upper Helldorado for a day on the trail.

Drechsel's Jeep is a testament to some very creative and functional fabrication.

In the Beginning
Bruce commissioned Ben Hank's of Mepco 4x4 in West Murray, Utah, to undertake the build. Mepco and Ben have a great reputation of putting together some very fine rigs. Actually, the lowdown on the Jeep's chassis is that it's a combination of a custom-built YJ frame and an aluminum TJ tub. Starting from the ground up and with the idea that bigger really is better, Dynatrac Dana 60 axles were used for the buildup and fit with a 4.56 ring-and-pinion, Detroit Lockers, and 35-spline axleshafts front and rear. A custom four-link setup was used in the front and rear. Fourteen-inch King coilovers help the vehicle's occupants endure the extreme ride. A Howe hydraulic steering assist and overflow tank were installed to help turn the 40-inch M/TRs. Currie Enterprises Anti-Rock antisway-bar systems were also placed in the front and rear for control.

Great care was taken in the installation of the 5.7L Chevy engine, a nice display of some very sanitary work.

The Drivetrain
During the build, all interested parties turned to J&G Transmission in West Murray, Utah, for a little help. J&G supplied and installed the 5.7L Chevy V-8 fed by a throttle-body injection and TH400 transmission, and mated both to an Atlas 3.8:1 transfer case. A Be Cool aluminum radiator was used to keep the engine running cool, and a Flowmaster exhaust was used to help the engine aspirate smoothly.

Special attention was paid to some very clean custom cage and tube fabrication.

Custom Work
The Jeep received quite a bit of attention on the custom side of fabrication. Ben bent the very clean and functional safety cage and tube work supporting the chassis and frame. He also crafted the front hoop bumper and rear tube-slider bumper. The body and standout paint was the creative work of Dave's Custom Jeeps Body & Paint.

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