It all started for Bill Myer in the early '60s with dirt bikes. In those days, his passion was trail-riding on the Rubicon as well as throughout the Sierras and northern Nevada. Then the '70s rolled around and some good friends turned him on to Jeeps. Bill's first Jeep was a '46 flatfender built old-school that he used for hunting and family outings. With his daughter's marriage, the newest member of the family, son-in-law Tom Fay, brought the Myers even more into the world of Jeepin'. Tom is a third-generation native of South Lake Tahoe, and his first trip over the Rubicon Trail was when he was a mere 6 months old. Tom and his father have been working the Jeepers Jamboree Buck Island repair crew for over 22 years, so it was only natural for Tom and his father to invite Bill to the world-famous Jeepers Jamboree.
After attending his first Jeepers Jamboree, Bill was hooked. But after running the flatfender for so many years, Bill decided it was time to move on to a modern Jeep, a vehicle that would have more interior and storage room and one that could be customized with the newest automotive technologies on the market.
So, Bill bought a '97 Jeep TJ as his base for the project. He tells us the TJ is an evolving project, and if you haven't guessed by now, Bill is an old-school hot-rod nut just as much as he is a Jeep enthusiast. The old saying, There is no replacement for displacement, fits him well. Powering Bill's new TJ is a '97 Chevy LT1 Corvette powerplant. Tom Fay and a good family friend, Gregg Young, completed the engine buildup and performance modifications.
Transferring power to the axles is a 700R4 transmission fitted with a heavy-duty torque converter with a stall speed of 1,800. The transmission work and installation was completed by Extreme Gear Off Road in Orangevale, California. Helping with a major reduction in torque is a 3.0:1 Low-gear Atlas II transfer case from Advance Adapters.
Extreme Gear Off Road also performed the front and rear axle builds and installs. Scott at Extreme Gear built a high-pinion Tera 60 with an ARB locker for the rear. The front axle is a custom-built Dana 44 with reverse rotation and an ARB locker for traction. The front axle was also moved 2 inches forward for better stability on the trail.
The axles are connected to the Jeep by 12-inch Sway-A-Way coilovers in the front and Rubicon Express's very functional long-arm suspension system in both the front and rear. The TJ rolls around the trail on 15x10 Center Line Hellcats fitted with Champion beadlocks. Interco 38x15.50R15 TSL Radial Swampers complete the rolling stock.
The custom-fabricated full rollcage was also built by Extreme Gear and was powdercoated to match the finished rig. Poison Spyder front fenders were used to toughen the front of the TJ. The front fenders and tailgate were smoothed out and filled in for a clean hot-rod look - whether they stay that way or not is a different story. A pair of custom rear fenders was fabricated out of steel and installed. The final paint is Viper Red applied by Coach Craft in Lakeport, California.
Another custom modification on this rig is the hidden 20-gallon aluminum gas tank that is mounted flush with the frame for trail clearance. In order to make this work, a custom floorboard was fabricated along with a custom transmission cover. Then, the whole interior was sprayed with Rhino Lining. The bumpers are Currie Enterprises Rock Crawlers, with a Warn winch and PIAA lights mounted on the front.
Since this Wrangler is an ongoing project, it piques our curiosity to imagine what modifications will be made next. However, since Bill is as fastidious as the average hot-rod enthusiast and this TJ is already functionally built for extreme trail use, we expect this Jeep will see the paint shop more than the fabrication shop.