Click for Coverage
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

1974 AM General M35A2 - Chameleon XLE

Posted in Features on January 20, 2014
Share this

In 1993, Saturday Night Live aired a commercial spoof for the “Chameleon XLE,” a car that looked like a beater on the outside so you didn’t have to worry about it getting stolen, but which was full of luxury features on the inside. Announcer Phil Hartman said, “You don’t need a car to tell the world you’re wealthy. You need a car to tell the world you’re smart.” We are here to tell you that Jeff Wood is pretty smart.

When Jeff sold the 4BT-powered CJ-5 he had competed with in Four Wheeler magazine’s Top Truck Challenge in 2005, it wasn’t long before he was looking for his next project. He bought an M35A2 (commonly referred to as a deuce and a half since it’s rated at 21⁄2 tons) from a government auction and flew out to Albany, Georgia, with Roger Mason to pick the truck up. The two then proceeded to drive the Deuce 1,750 miles back to Las Cruces, New Mexico, via New Orleans, as their trip coincided with Mardi Gras.

Jeff Wood has a matching trailer that he got from nearby Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He uses the trailer to haul wood, but just about anything from dirt bikes to boxes of mortars would fit. Most M35s have open beds for carrying troops or supplies. Variants of the deuce and a half with boxes on the back were primarily used for maintenance vehicles. The box is where Jeff focused most of his time and energy.

The truck is loud and not particularly fast, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for with style and simplicity. While the truck looks identical on the outside as when Jeff brought it home, he and craftsman Eric Miller spent countless hours on the interior. The box on the back of the deuce has been turned into an RV that is more luxurious than some apartments we have lived in. And with ten 43-inch-tall tires on the ground and a generator on board, Jeff doesn’t have to worry about finding a KOA with full hookups when he leaves town.

Tech Specs
1974 AM General M35A2

Engine: 7.8L Continental Multifuel I-6
Transmission: Spicer 3053A 5-speed manual
Transfer case: Divorced mount Rockwell 136-21
Front Axle: Rockwell 21⁄2-ton with 6.72 gears
Rear Axle: Dual Rockwell 21⁄2-ton with 6.72 gears

Springs & Such: Stock leaf springs in front, stock pivoting suspension in rear
Tires & Wheels: 11.00R20 Michelin XLs on factory steel split rims
Steering: Stock
Other Stuff: Oak cabinets, wood-burning stove, gas stove, refrigerator, A/C, shower, 30-gallon water tank, diesel generator, LED lighting, Bluetooth stereo, Mardi Gras beads

PhotosView Slideshow

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results