This Ain't No Purple People Eater. This is...
You say the CJ-5 is too short? You say the CJ-8 is too pricey? You say the TJ Unlimited is too new? We've got a rig for you: the CJ-6.
Produced from 1959 to 1975, the CJ-6 began its run with a 101-inch wheelbase, which was stretched to 104 inches near the end of its era. At the time, the extra wheelbase and cargo space were touted for their utility value: a way to get more work done. Fast forward to the present, and that stretched wheelbase still provides a way to get more work done...on the trail.
Brian Eck's '64 CJ-6 was a standout at the '08 Hi-Desert Roundup, not only for its purple hue, but for the hardcore hardware and owner-built innovations that reach every corner of the rig. The wheelbase alone wasn't Brian's primary reason for building a '6. Brian, of Torrance, California, is a big boy at 6 feet 8 inches and needed the legroom.
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As with most of the well-built vintage rigs we've seen, there aren't too many original hard parts left beyond the frame and body. The original four-cylinder Hurricane engine is long gone, replaced by a well-built 383 small-block Chevy. The same goes for the tranny and transfer case: they're now an SM420 and an Atlas II. A Dana 60 front axle leads the way, followed by a GM 14-bolt full-floater at the rear.
The suspension's configuration is something the Jeep engineers of 1959 never dreamed of. The front end is suspended in the conventional manner, but uses Rancho Lightening Rods bypass shocks in place of the stubby, small-diameter stockers. The rear shocks are more conventional, but instead of semi-elliptical spring packs, there's an owner-built four-link combined with a pair of quarter-elliptical spring packs.
With a custom color, extra legroom, a powerful engine, nuke-proof axles, and flexy suspension, is this the perfect six? Of course not! Brian admits he'd prefer an automatic tranny in place of the stick, and coilovers up front in place of the leaf springs. Oh well. Given a few more years and Brian's ability to work with metal, we'd say it's only a matter of time before we'll see this thing on the trail with those two exact upgrades. For now, we'll just say Brian's CJ is one slick six.