There we were out at the Truckhaven Hills, minding our own business when we found a cool CJ-7 with a high-clearance hood rumbling around. We snagged him, checked out the Jeep, and asked him if he wanted us to shoot a feature on it. Of course he did. Then he asked if he could bring a buddy, and we said sure. We set it up and at the appointed time the CJ-7 and this yellow CJ-2A showed up, both rumbling happily away. We like that wide flotation tire look on a flattie, it's a bright color (easy to photograph), and not only does the Jeep have a history, but it's got an automatic behind that swapped-in V-8.
To stretch the flattie wheelbase out to 86 inches, the chassis was lengthened in front of the grille and then YJ Wrangler leaf spring packs were hung under the frame with custom spring hangers and stock YJ shackles. Both axles are hung in a spring-over configuration. Up front the YJ leafs get help from an extra main leaf and a traction bar while out back a traction bar resides outside the driver-side leaf spring and goes from the spring perch to the frame. Shocks are Rancho 9000s on all four corners, but bolted to modified mounts to allow for longer shocks to be fitted. Out back the shocks are reclined and the upper mount is outside the frame in the inner wheelwell while up front the upper mounts poke through the inner fenders and are high under the hood. A custom over-engine tube keeps the front mounts from flexing.
Underneath the transmission mount was modified with a small skidplate to cover the T-case and part of the transmission. The skid has a hole in it to drain the T-case and it sure looks like that it has seen some use. Up front a custom 2x4 rectangular tube bumper doubles as a shackle mounting location and a base of the mount for a Warn XD9000i winch. Underneath the winch is a swapped-in Saginaw power steering box connected to the factory column with U-jointed shafts. Out back a 3x3 square tube custom bumper protects the body of the Jeep and provides a 2-inch receiver hitch which was being used as a recovery point when we shot the Jeep. Just in front of the rear bumper, under the bed of the Jeep, is a Derale transmission cooler with and electric fan.
It all starts up front with a 327ci small-block Chevy V-8. Shane tells us that this Jeep has had a small block in it since 1965 even though he's "only" owned it since 1984. The mill is bored 0.060-over and is running TRW pistons and moly rings which bump compression up to 10.5:1 It has been both balance and blueprinted and some of the other goodies inside are GM pink connecting rods, a 268H Comp Cams camshaft, Manley stainless valves, hardened valve seats, and bronze valve guides. It inhales through and Edlebrock Streetmaster aluminum intake and a 750 cfm Q-jet carburetor. The engine exhales through 21⁄2-inch-diameter side pipes that feature Cherry Bomb Turbo mufflers. A Mallory YL ignition with a Pertronix Conversion lights the fuel air mixture off. The engine is shackled to the frame with a front-mounted engine plate rather than the regular engine mounts.
Backing the potent mouse is a TH350 automatic transmission that has been stuffed with heavy-duty clutches and steel drums. The transmission work was done by RFR Motorsports in Phoenix and the company added a Dacco 2,500 rpm stall converter as well. The T-case is a swapped-in Dana 20 still running the 2.03:1 low range. From there power goes out through Arizona Rack & Driveline driveshafts to a pair of Scout axles. A Dana 30 is chilling up front while a Dana 44 hangs out in the back. Both axles were stuffed with 5.38 gears by T&S Jeep. The front axle has a Lock Right while the rear axle has a Detroit Locker.
In this day and age of monster disc brakes it was out of the ordinary to see front 12 x 21⁄2-inch drums up front and 12 x 2-inch drums out back. But hey, if they ain't broke. The drums are pushed on by a frame-mounted master cylinder and the pressure can be held by a dash-mounted Mico Lever Lock which stops those 35x15.50/15 tires on 15x12 Eagle Alloys from moving.
Body and Interior
That bright yellow paint that made us borrow an iconic Chrysler name for this Willys Jeep is actually from a Chevy. The paint is '89 Corvette Yellow from PPG and was slathered on by Wreck N Mended auto body in Tempe, Arizona. Exterior lighting is an interesting combination of something old and something new. The old up front includes chrome headlight visors and domed glass turn signal lenses that might be original. Out back some flush-mounted LED taillights light up the night. Under the hood, an Optima battery and aftermarket AGC-style fuse holder provide power for the Jeep.
Inside is where you will find not only the factory under-seat fuel tank, but also a custom one behind the front seats in the bed of the Jeep for a total of 22 gallons of fuel. A Smittybilt rollcage had door-shaped sidebars, a new front bar, and grab handle all added to it. Also added was a pair of behind-the seat bars with a mounting location for shoulder harnesses, although they weren't installed yet when we shot it. Stewart Warner gauges provide information on what's going on under the hood and an old school Grant steering wheel sits atop the factory steering column. All the action can be watched from the comfort of a pair of Corbeau Baja seats.
Good, Bad, and What It's For
Well we aren't fans of adding fuel cells inside Jeeps, but yet we often run factory flatfender gas tanks under the driver's seat as well. We like the stance and with that kind of power on tap, the Jeep can probably be driven over quicksand. Oh, and let's not forget how rappity that engine is…it just sounds cool, especially when roosting up some sand hills. But it's a good thing that this Jeep doesn't climb monster rocks because between that power, the tire size, and the axles, something would be bound to pop.
Vehicle: '49 CJ-2A
Engine: 327ci V-8
Transfer Case: Dana 20
Suspension: Spring-over axle leafs(front and rear)
Axles: Dana 30 (front); Dana 44 (rear)
Wheels: 15x12 Eagle Alloy
Built For: Having fun off-road.
Why I Wrote This Feature
Like I said at the beginning, this was a kind of gift dropped in my lap going rappity-rappity-rappity and sounded awesome. Once I got a chance to talk with Shane and see everything he'd done and still plans on doing, I was sold. It's not a show Jeep, but then again this isn't Truckin' magazine. Like all of our Jeeps, this one is a work in progress and has been for 30 years. As a guy who flits from Jeep to Jeep like some change underwear, I admire the kind of dedication that keeps a Jeep in the family for 30 years. Not only the dedication, but the enthusiasm to still be tinkering with it after all that time.