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

This Jeepster Commando Is Retro Cool

Posted in Features on November 14, 2015
Share this
Photographers: Lucie SilveiraSam Silveira

Building a rig that is capable and comfortable and that retains a vintage vibe can be a challenge. Often comfort is sacrificed for capability, and classic styling is cut away to make room for tube. The struggle is real, and Sam Silveira is far too familiar with it. His Bogger-shod, coil-sprung flatfender, Slinky, graced the cover of the February 2003 issue of 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Since that time a lot has changed for Sam. He got married, had a daughter, and moved to Hawaii. He still has the wheeling bug though, and plans to travel around the world with his family.

Of course you aren’t going to travel around the world in a coil-sprung flatfender on Boggers, but plenty of components in Slinky proved very reliable and motivated Sam to use them again. Sam showed up at the doorstep of Triple-X Traction in Seaside, California, and dropped off a low-mileage Jeepster, a 4.3L V-6 engine, and a set of Toyota axles. Toby Lavender accepted Sam’s challenge and ran with his vision, updating the Jeepster to make it more capable and reliable without stripping away its identity. Toby and his team put an emphasis on reliability and durability, knowing that Sam’s goal is to travel around the world with his family. The end result wasn’t easy, but it checks all of Sam’s boxes and shouldn’t have an issue on any continent.

Power comes from a 4.3L Chevy V-6 fitted with the original Jeepster air cleaner on top. The engine was left bone stock for reliability and uses simple throttle body fuel injection. Note how the fenders were cut to fit the shock hoops and aid in cooling the engine bay.

The factory white bumper endures but has been modified to accommodate an aluminum hawse fairlead. The Warn 8274 is the only appropriate winch choice for a vehicle where vintage looks are desired but reliability required. Sam didn’t let us down.

A Toyota steering box was bolted to custom Triple-X Traction mounts. The box works in conjunction with a Marlin Crawler high steer kit that uses billet steering arms and 1 1/4x0.250-wall DOM steering links fitted with FJ80 tie-rod ends.

The front axle is out of a Toyota pickup that has been modified to accept a factory Toyota electric locker. The beauty of these selectable lockers is that even if the wiring fails, they can be locked and unlocked manually by crawling under the vehicle. Other upgrades include a Triple-X Traction truss, 4.88 gears, and all new seals.

The front suspension consists of All-Pro Off Road leaf springs intended for the rear of a Toyota Tacoma. Triple-X Traction mounted the leaves on custom hangers and built tubular mounts for the Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks.

A custom crossmember securely holds the dual Toyota transfer cases in place. The cases feature an adapter and 4.7:1 gears from Marlin Crawler. Behind the transfer cases, the factory framerails were replaced due to rust. Triple-X Traction widened the framerails to provide room for the GenRight 20-gallon fuel tank.

The rear suspension uses the same leaf springs as the front for parts interchangeability. The same is true of the rear third member, which can be swapped with the front and uses the same Toyota electric locker and 4.88 gears.

When you bring your entire family with you, there is a premium on comfortable sleeping quarters. The Jeepster is topped with a Maggiolina Columbus Variant fiberglass rooftop tent that pops up in an instant and is big enough when closed to store sleeping bags and pillows with the integrated foam pad.

Sam purchased the Jeepster out of Missouri with only 30,000 miles on the ticker, so it was complete, but the rear framerails and floorboards needed to be replaced due to rust. It is difficult to tell, but the rear fenders were cut and relocated higher in order to accept the 35-inch-tall tires before the entire Jeepster was repainted. The angle behind the rear fenders was increased and moved up as well for an improved departure angle, and the factory bumper was moved up to match.

The 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2s are big enough for most trails that Sam and his family want to traverse without overtaxing the driveline components. The tires fit the theme of working well in a variety of different terrains, and the Turbine wheels that Sam stole off of Mr. T’s van definitely fit the vintage vibe.

Tech Specs
1970 Jeep Jeepster Commando
Engine: 4.3L V-6
Transmission: 700R4 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Dual Toyota transfer cases with Marlin Crawler adapter and gears
Axles: Toyota 8-inch front and rear with 4.88 gears and Toyota electric lockers
Springs & Such: All-Pro Off Road Tacoma leaf springs with Bilstein 5100 shocks
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.5R15 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2s on 15x10 aluminum Turbine rims
Steering: Toyota steering box with Marlin Crawler high steer kit
Other: Warn 8274 winch with synthetic winch line, Maggiolina rooftop tent, GenRight 20-gallon fuel tank, dual Optima RedTop batteries in Triple-X Traction mounts, recovered factory seats, full rollcage from Triple-X Traction that fits behind stock dash pad, custom warning stickers, fabricated rear framerails, functioning emergency brake using factory Toyota parts, powdercoated frame

PhotosView Slideshow

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results