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1994 Jeep Wrangler - Big Mini

Posted in Features on June 22, 2015
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Photographers: Justin Majich

Editor Trasborg likes to claim that this is the Jeep that started it all. Then again, he also claims that, unbeknownst to his boss, this is the Jeep that caused the big move out of the old building. Something about engine swaps in the parking garage. From the sound of it, we probably don’t want to know the details. Starting its life with Trasborg as a wreck (“Big Mini, Part 1,” April ’13) and progressing to the beast that it is now, Big Mini is an interesting vehicle to say the least.

This build began with wanting to fit 40-inch tires on a stock-height Jeep Wrangler YJ (“No Lift Wrangler, Part 1,” July ’08 and “No Lift Wrangler, Part 2,” Sept. ’08). With those giant tires comes the need for more power. It doesn’t really matter what the gear ratio is, a four-banger is just going to have problems turning 40-inch tires. When Trasborg ran across an inexpensive former cop car for sale, with a running V-8 in it, he jumped at the chance. The police-spec LT-1 would have no trouble with those big tires or any of the terrain Big Mini might find itself on. Look to “Parking Garage Motor Swap” (Sept. ’09) to get the details.

Because of the condition of the factory body mounts (they were hammered), Trasborg installed a 1-inch Daystar body lift. Considering the size of the tires he wanted to fit to Big Mini, this wasn’t nearly enough lift. The body modifications, facilitated by GenRight Off Road and a few of their then-new products, were only a part of the equation. Suspension was another big part of it. In “Big Mini, Part 3” (June ’13), Trasborg began getting the suspension worked out. Rancho Suspension springs and shocks, combined with GenRight Off Road’s brackets and shock hoops, came together to form a suspension package that would help Big Mini clear those big tires, while still keeping the ride height nice and low.

A powerful engine and quality suspension are pretty important when you’re trying to run giant tires. If the rest of your drivetrain can’t handle them, however, you’re going to be spending a lot of time either in your driveway or at the end of a tow strap. Because of this, Big Mini got a few other upgrades. The Level 10 Products-built, LS-spec, 4L60E transmission and a four-speed Atlas transfercase (“Parking Garage Motor Swap,” Sept. ’09 and “Big Mini, Part 7,” June ’14) transmits the engine power down to the Currie Enterprises F9 axles (“Big Mini, Part 3,” July ’13). Steering is handled by a hydraulic-assist setup from PSC Motorsports and the hydroboost brake system comes from Vanco Power Brake Supply (“Big Mini, Part 4,” Aug. ’13).

What’s a build like this without a little paint and bodywork? Trasborg took that wreck he started with and made it shine. In “Do It Yourself Four Day Paint Job” (Nov. ’09), he gathered a few friends over a long weekend and got Big Mini looking new again. The tailgate was also swapped out. The goofy swing-out door that comes from the factory was changed to a trail-lunch tabletop by putting a CJ-7 tailgate in its place (“Jeep Tailgate Conversion—61⁄2 Steps To Bliss,” July ’07). Since Trasborg had already put a TJ soft-top on Big Mini (“Updating Your Soft Top,” Nov. ’07) he decided to keep the theme going and installed a Synergy Manufacturing TJ rollcage in his YJ (“Installing a Synergy TJ ’Cage in a YJ,” Apr. ’14).

Good, Bad, and What it’s For
Big Mini is awesome. It still needs some work, and some of those finishing touches never seem to end. A lot of the little things that need finishing are just those unforeseen obstacles that get in the way of every major build, especially one that is as design-as-you-go as Big Mini is. Considering Editor Trasborg’s workload, we think it’s excusable. When it’s finished though, it’s going to be able to go everywhere. Whether it’s freeways, dirt roads, rocks, mud, sand, or snow, none will pose a problem.

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