What Happened to Two-Door SUVs?
Q: My wife and I are getting ready to retire and are thinking about purchasing an SUV. One problem, though, is that we do not need the ability to seat seven adults, or even six. What year did all of the manufacturers start selling the large-capacity SUVs? We would be perfectly happy with an SUV similar to our old fullsize Bronco. Any suggestions that you can provide will be great. I am not confident in the degree of accuracy the local car salesmen provide, since they only want to sell new vehicles. Thank you from an avid reader.
A: Michael, Although GM has offered some version of the Suburban since the '30s, the multi-seating craze seemed to get its start as soccer moms across the states traded in their minivans for large "family size" SUVs. The manufacturers responded by building bigger and fancier vehicles to appeal to this minivan crowd. So yes, it sure does seem that we used to have quite a few more capable fullsize two-door SUVs to choose from, and with sporty and compact as the latest craze, it's hard to say whether we'll be getting a tough two-door fullsize SUV anytime soon. The Bronco had its last run in 1996 to make way for the Expedition, which was a better fit in going head-to-head with the Suburban. Continuing the trend, the two-door Chevy Tahoe never returned after GM introduced a new body style in the '99-'00 model years. This leaves your options among the new two-door SUV offerings limited to compact and midsize units. The good news is that you can pick up a nice used Bronco or Tahoe for well under $10,000, possibly leaving you a bit of change in your pocket for a few upgrade parts. Good luck.
TJ Tire Upsizing
Q: Can I replace the LT245/75R16s on my '05 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with LT265/75R16s (roughly 31.8x10.5 inches) without any problems? What can I do to deal with any problems without lifting the vehicle? Your help on this matter is appreciated. In addition, I enjoy your magazine. Thanks.
A: Robert, Yes you can, but the larger tires may rub the fender flares when the suspension is articulated. The best cure for this (without adding a suspension or body lift) is to find where the tires are rubbing and trim a portion of the fender flare where the tire makes contact. Rubbing should be minimal, however, as the 265 size is just a little less than 1 inch larger than the 245's.
Making It Legal
Q: I recently purchased a Jeep. It has a CJ-5 body and a Willys frame and motor. I don't know the years, but I'd like to make it street-legal. How would I get a title for it?
A: No Name, Your first step is to search the tub and frame for any visible numbers. Many CJ-5 tubs have the VIN number stamped on a plate on the outer edge of the dashboard visible through the windshield. The VIN is also often stamped on the bottom line of a metal tag located in the driver-side corner of the firewall near the door hinge. The frame is usually a more difficult proposition, as frame numbers were stamped some years and not on others, so stick with the tub in your numbers search. Finding the VIN can not only give you an idea of the year the vehicle was produced but should also be used to determine if the vehicle is currently registered to anyone else. If no numbers are present, you're left to consulting with your state's local DMV. When I registered my title-less '42 Willys MB, I was required to have the California Highway Patrol complete a Vehicle Verification Inspection. I also had to show some sort of proof of ownership, which was a bill of sale in my case, but could have been a receipt from a junkyard for some or most of the vehicle's major components, such as the frame, body, engine, or transmission. You may also be able to have it recognized as a specially constructed vehicle, depending on your state's laws. Another not-so-legal method is to purchase an existing title of a wrecked vehicle and use it as if it were your vehicle's title and license it as so. I don't recommend this method, of course, and have certainly never registered a vehicle in this manner myself. Good luck.
Keep on Keepin' On
Q: I just purchased a newsstand copy of your Nov. '05 issue. I'm not going to do that anymore; I am just going to subscribe. I was just reading the entries in the Forum and I have a couple of questions. First, is it possible to view the Aug. '05 4Word online? Second, if you still have the e-mail address of Gilbert Graybill ('02 Liberty), would you please pass along the following Web site? Behind www.lostkjs.com is a SoCal group of hard-core KJ owners who are always eager to share their knowledge regarding the Liberty KJ. Your magazine really appeals to me. It seems like all of the other mags are more catalog than substance. This is not true with 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility. It really has something for everyone. My wife and I bought our first Jeep one year ago. It's an '02 Wrangler Sahara. Shortly after that we bought a trailer from Adventure Trailers. After a few trips with the trailer attached we soon realized that the three-speed auto tranny in the Sahara just wasn't going to cut it. So the Sahara was traded in for an '05 Rubicon Unlimited with the six-speed manual. Man, what a rig. I gave it a 3-inch lift, 33-inch rubber, and a Warn 9500ti winch. Look out, Sierra Nevadas.
A: Bob, Thanks for the enthusiasm. We hope you enjoy your new subscription. Currently the 4Word is not available on the 4WD&SU Web site, but Online Editor Edward Sanchez is always hard at work making changes and improvements. I'll add the request to his inbox. Thanks for reading.
Q: First off, I love your magazine. I always have and always will. I am the proud owner of an '80 CJ-5 with a small-block Chevy engine and stock Jeep four-speed transmission and Dana 300 transfer case. I've see in some articles that certain vehicles feature dual transmissions. My question is, how is this done and is it possible in my Jeep? I know that the short wheelbase is a problem, but future plans are to relocate the rear axle farther rearward. I can always add a few inches to clear the new setup if needed. I'm sure a dual transfer case is easier, but I would prefer the dual transmission for gear selection. Is there an adapter plate to mate the two transmissions together or what? Do you remove the bellhousing from the second or is it retained? Thank you for your help and keep up the fabulous work.
A: Josh, The first dual transmission setup I experienced was in Tim Johnston's Suzuki SJ410 when I met up with Tim and a crew from Island4x4.com on Victoria Island, British Columbia, Canada. To be honest, the idea of it still has me scratching my heads, since I've always been pretty comfortable with the offerings of a single tranny. But I usually like things that make me scratch my head (minus lice), so I gave it a chance. Tim's SJ410 uses a stock SJ410 trans behind the engine and a Suzuki LJ80 transmission with the bellhousing cut off behind that. The units were mated together using angle iron "rails" that secure to the bolts that hold the two halves of each case together, which are also perfectly parallel to the mainshaft inside the transmissions, automatically aligning the two units. The output of the main tranny and the input of the second tranny were linked using a modified jackshaft with the slip yoke machined off. The transfer case is secured to the second trans using the slip yoke part from the jackshaft, which was welded to a machined yoke flange, which bolts to the T-case just as it would stock. The engine was moved forward 1 inch and the T-case also sits just 1 inch rearward. The result is 16 Forward gears and a 130:1 final ratio with both trannys in First gear and the T-case in 4-Lo. So, yes, dual transmissions can be a lot of fun and create a great deal of possibilities in tackling obstacles. But be aware that there aren't any kits or adapters out there to complete such a conversion, which also means that there's no tech line to call when you hit a snag. If you have the time, the shop, the know-how, and the money to install dual transmission in your CJ, then I say give it a go. Nothing like a good project! Otherwise, stick with the dual T-case or go with a gear reduction unit such as those available from Klune-V. Have fun.
Send questions, comments, and suggestions to 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine, Attn: Christian Lee, 2400 E. Katella Ave.,7th Floor, Anaheim, CA 92806, or firstname.lastname@example.org.