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1962 Willys M38A1 - Tube Jeep

Posted in Features on September 1, 2010
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We at OFF-ROAD like to bring you a little variety from the dirt-loving community, so when we spotted Erik Busarello's weekend play toy, we knew we had to snap some photos and show you what he's put together.

What you see here started from the seed of a '62 Willys M38A1 whose age had left it rusted and a lot worse for wear. However, Erik salvaged the best parts, mainly the cowl section and grille, and began building up a project vehicle. His intent was to build an all-around open-top rig that was capable for back country exploring, a little rock crawling, but mostly high-speed dune and desert running.

With a near blank canvas, Erik was able to layout some specs he wanted for the build.

Erik is part of the crew at Random Precision Mfg. (, a custom off-road fabrication shop in Tempe, Arizona. Over the period of about a year, he gathered parts and put together a complete rig.

He started with a pile of 1.75-inch DOM tubing and set about building a tubular chassis from scratch. The plan was to build a chassis with an integral six-point rollcage, linked suspension, and to provide all the attachment points needed to mount the drivetrain and wrap the chassis with body panels. For higher speed stability, the wheelbase was stretched to 116 inches.

Erik's goal with the front suspension was to build it so that it could tackle rough terrain at speed. He chose to design a four-link setup with upper wishbone. The links are all fabricated from 1.75-inch 0.120 wall DOM steel tubing and the lower links are trussed for greater strength.

Looking at the photos in this feature, you'll realize there are tons of unique fabrication touches in this buggy. We'll point some out, and the more you look the more you'll find. Erik employed ample use of a tube bender, CNC plasma cutter, dimple dies, and sheet metal tools in putting together all the metal in it. What you'll also see is some missing paint, a few dings, and plenty of Arizona desert pinstriping. This vehicle doesn't stay at home tucked away in the garage. Instead, it gets used on a regular basis. So you may just run across it out playing in the sandbox.

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