Some of us are just plain envious of well-built vehicles that can go anywhere or do anything. R.G. Dickey's Jeep is one of those vehicles. Recently, we watched this nimble little hybrid of a Jeep crawl up, over, around, and through just about anything in its way. In fact, we watched it catch about 8 feet of air numerous times on Oregon's sand dunes, and it kept right on going.
What started out for R.G. as a salvaged-title Jeep Wrangler TJ turned into a daily driver and mild-wheeling machine. A short time later, R.G. enlisted the help of Jared Prindle, owner of AFW Motorsports in Lewistown, Montana. During the initial build, Jared and R.G. swapped out the front and rear axles and replaced them with Ford high-pinion Dana 44s. The axles were then fitted with ARB Air Lockers front and rear. The rear ARB carrier uses a hybrid 44 reverse-cut ring-gear set with Moser Dana 60 shafts. The front axle retained the Dana 30 outer Cs off the stock axle; however, it now contains chrome-moly inner and outer shafts, CTM U-joints, and 4.88 gears. The front disc brakes were retained; the rear disc brakes were scavenged from a Ford Explorer and employ an E-brake cable from a Bronco. Both axles received custom trusses made from 1-1/2-inch, 3/16-inch-wall square tubing.
Soon after the initial build, R.G. decided it was time for the final phase of the Goat's build and took it back to Jared to help walk him through final construction. R.G. wanted something other than a rockcrawler so the Jeep would be capable of prerunning much faster trails. The overall goal of the build was to create a multiuse Jeep that will go anywhere while keeping the center of gravity low. The Jeep now has a bellypan clearance of 21 inches and an overall height of 68 inches. The windshield frame and cowl were ditched to help keep everything as low and as light as possible. The new windshield frame was designed for a unique, aggressive look and to keep down the overall height of the vehicle. A fiberglass Rock Crawler hood replaced the heavy steel factory hood, and the cowl was completely fabricated to match both the windshield design and the existing hood lines. The rear bobtail was also custom-fabricated, and the entire tub, including the firewall, was removed to lighten the vehicle, which weighs in now at 3,000 pounds. All of the panels were replaced to lighten the load even more, including an aluminum firewall, floorboards, and outside skins.
The custom-fabricated CJ tailgate was built to give the Jeep a classic look. The grille was modeled after a CJ-2A's, and the headlights are from a CJ-7. CJ gauges were used instead of the TJ dash cluster. The rear taillights and marker lights are 3/4-inch LEDs and are set into the frame of the Jeep. Considering the design of the Jeep's rear end, no bumper was needed, which sheds even more weight and now there is nothing extra to drag, scrape, or break. The front turn signals under the headlights are also 3/4-inch LED lights. MasterCraft seats and harnesses were selected for safety and comfort. A custom 18-gallon fuel cell built by AFW Motorsports was installed in the rear section of the Jeep's tub.
The steering consists of modified 3/4-ton Chevy components and is a pseudo high-steer configuration. The ball joints' studs are larger on the Chevy components, and the Dana 30 tie-rod mounts were drilled and bored from the top, giving an extra 1-1/2 inches of clearance on the steering linkage. The factory TJ steering column and steering box were retained; however, the box was moved up about 4 inches.
The heart of the suspension is the Sway-A-Way 12-inch coilovers mounted in each corner. The custom-built, triangulated four-link long-arm in the rear and long-arm (radius arms) in the front were also built by R.G. and Jared. Currie Antirock sway bars front and rear keep the rig stable during high-speed cornering. The Goat rolls around on 36-inch Interco Irok tires and 15x8 steel rims. The wheels are homemade, 24-bolt, weld-on beadlocks.
The powertrain consists of the factory TJ 4.0L I-6 engine, manual transmission, and NP231 transfer case with SYE; however, a Klune-V 4.0 transfer case has been inserted between the tranny and the 231 for added Low-gear reduction. The custom front and rear driveshafts were built with double-Cardan joints. The rear driveshaft is still the stock length because the overall wheelbase is 7 inches longer than factory length and the SYE. With the Klune-V in front of the 231, it made it easy to lengthen the wheelbase in the rear by the 7 inches.
A very cool styling and functional finishing touch made to the Jeep was the addition of the suicide doors and the removable fenders, which keep this Jeep street-legal (at least in Montana).
AFW Motorsports was instrumental in this build. Jared took R.G.'s vision and made it all work - and work very well, we might add. Watching this little Jeep roll over everything in its path was an amazing sight. Our jealousy compels us to think that all our project vehicles should be built just like the Goat.