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.
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.
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
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