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This Custom 1964 Jeep J-10 Flatbed Sports a GM V-8

Posted in Features on October 14, 2015
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For those of us who are from a pre-Prius era, the sweet sound of a small-block Chevy V-8 pushing its exhaust through a pair of glass packs returns us to our youth. It takes us back to when it was still cool to leave black patches on the pavement and create rooster tails of sand.

The sight of this custom-built J-10 flatbed pickup, owned by Kevin Lake of Golden Valley, Arizona, with its old-fashioned narrow grille and pie-plate dummy covers (a great place to mount driving lights, by the way), can take you back to the good ol’ days of the ’60s and ’70s as well. When it’s crawling up Arizona’s trails on BFGoodrich 37x12.50R17 All-Terrain KO2 tires, 10x17-inch beadlock 8-lug wheels, and 3/4-ton axles (Dana 44 front and a Corporate 14-bolt rear), Lake’s full-framed, flatbed Jeep J10 looks like a Jeep straight out of some post-apocalyptic movie, especially with its Rustoleum sand-tan paint job.

However, once he fires up its 350ci GM V-8 with factory TBI, you immediately know it’s not some cobbled-together futuristic paramilitary truck running on homemade gasoline. It’s a fire-breathing, trail-romping go-getter that’s capable of conquering any trail Lake points it at, and it can do it while towing its custom-built camping trailer, too.

Only slightly modified, the J10’s dashboard is stock except for a few additional gauges, switches, and the below-dash air conditioning unit. Lake built the center console and installed the additional analog gauges so he could better monitor the engine and transmission.

Chassis and Cab
The ‘64 J-Series pickup cab now rests on a ’77 Wagoneer frame because of the Wagoneer’s shorter wheelbase (Lake built all the custom body mounts). Not having an OEM bed available that was short enough to fit on the Wagoneer frame, Lake built his own flatbed out of channel steel and wood planks.

On that flatbed, Lake carries his spare tire, Hi-Lift jack, air hose on a spring-loaded spool, air tank, a large insulated water cooler, two toolboxes, and a hand-operated crane to lift the spare tire on and off (rolling the tire off the chest-high flatbed could cause problems). A small wooden stake-side keeps random coolers or camping gear from being lost along the trail.

Knowing that at some time in the future the J10 may suffer a condition of upset, Lake made the decision to install an external rollcage (space inside the cab was also at a premium). With his own mandrel bender, he spent weeks designing and constructing the impressive rollcage that protects the cab and front clip of the Jeep truck. The rock rails are also tied into the cage and frame for additional strength and stability.

Even though he built the J10 to be trail-tough, it has a soft side, too. Lake didn’t forget to include amenities for himself and his passengers. Modern niceties such as power windows (from a junkyard Wagoneer), lighted cosmetic mirrors on the sunvisors (found in a Cadillac at the same yard), and a high-volume under-dash air conditioner that’ll freeze your knees.

Thirty-seven-inch BFGoodrich tires provide plenty of clearance for the Dana 44 and Corporate 14-bolt axles.

Axles and Suspension
Strapped to the Wagoneer frame via four Chevrolet 3/4-ton pickup leaf springs are a 3/4-ton Dana 44 front axle and a Corporate 14-bolt rear axle, and both are equipped with 5.38:1 gear ratios. The Dana 44 puts power to the ground through an ARB air locker and TEN Factory chromoly axles. Under the flatbed, the 14-bolt rearend pounds out the horses through a Detroit locker and factory axleshafts.

Pumping out plenty of ponies, the GM 350 TBI V-8 moves the J10 and its trailer easily on trails and highways.

Planted Power
The GM 350ci V-8 with a factory throttle-body electronic fuel injection spins the locked-up torque converter in the TH350 automatic transmission. A twin-stick New Process 205 transfer case divides power between the front and rear axles. So how well does this custom-designed and personally built Jeep pickup work? As you can see in the photos, it works very well indeed. The stable and strong suspension might be old school, but it’s been around for decades because it’s reliable. The rig was shod with used Hummer tires during our photo shoot, but the new BFGs bite much better.

The 1964 J10 and matching trailer make an imposing and comfortable pair for the trails of northwestern Arizona.

Trail Shadow
In order to extend his exploring expeditions, Lake also designed and built a matching camping trailer. It’s a military-style trailer with squared-off fenders and a narrowed J-truck tailgate. The trailer’s track, with Chevy leaf springs and a Corporate 14-bolt axle, was designed to match the J10 so that it would tow easier over soft and unstable terrain, while following in the Jeep’s tire tracks. In order to expand the trailer’s capabilities, Kevin also built a tilt-bed for it, which is hinged at the rear with a 12V DC winch-cranked crane up front for lift.

Hard Facts
Vehicle: ’64 Jeep J10 custom flatbed
Engine: GM 350ci V-8
Transmission: TH 350
Transfer Case: NP 205
Suspension: Wagoneer frame; GM 3/4-ton leaf springs
Axles: Dana 44 front with ARB Air Locker, GM 14-bolt rear with Detroit Locker; 5.38 gears
Wheels: 10x17-inch 8-lug beadlocks
Tires: BFG 37x12.50R17 All-Terrain KO2
Built For: Trails, camping, and fun

A short overhang at each end and 30 inches of ground clearance allow the J10 to clear almost impossible obstacles.
The external full rollcage is connected to the frame in several locations and protects those inside.
The Wagoneer donated its power windows, window controls, and both front door interior panels.
A Cadillac in the same junkyard donated the sunvisors with lighted mirrors.
With the spare tire in the center of the bed, Lake mounted his home-built toolboxes on each side, and the Hi-Lift jack on the passenger side.
A short stake-side acting as a tailgate keeps loose gear from sliding off the back of the bed.
Each toolbox on Lake’s custom-built Jeep J-10 is secured with a combination lock.
Five gallons of ice water in an insulated cooler keeps Lake hydrated for an entire weekend. The air hose can reach all four tires on the J10, both tires on the trailer, and support an impact wrench if needed.
At several locations around the truck, Lake has installed “rock” lights for nighttime trail running.
That is the crane for lifting the spare tire on and off the truck. It slips into a prepared receptacle in the flatbed frame.
Since the bed is so high off the ground and there are no rear fenders, Lakes used mud flaps to keep from throwing debris off the rear tires. The mud flaps are removable if the trail warrants it. Taillights, backup lights, and trailer plug are all recessed into and protected by the rear steel plate.
An Optima RedTop battery provides power for the bed winch and LED tent lights.
Another insulated water cooler attached to the side of the J10’s custom trailer provides additional ice water for those extended backroad trips.
A 5-gallon LPG tank and a long hose provide fuel for Lake’s stove and lamps during camping trips with the J10 and its trailer.
Underneath the trailer is a Corporate 14-bolt axle that gives the trailer the same track width as the Jeep J10 pickup truck that hauls it.
Lake shortened the Jeep J10’s tailgate to fit the more narrow trailer bed, and it let’s everybody now what’s towing it.
One of Lake’s innovative custom touches is the fold out countertops that are integrated into the trailer’s flat fenders. They hold the stove and food preparation items while in camp.

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