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This Farmer’s 1975 Jeep CJ-5 Is His Lucky Charm

Posted in Features on August 22, 2016
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When thinking of California, farming may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Most people from any of the other 49 states think of Los Angeles/Hollywood, San Francisco, sports teams, or smog laws when the word California comes up in conversation. In fact, the Golden State is the country’s agricultural production leader, and offers plenty of wide-open space and fertile ground. However, this isn’t a story about California, it’s about a 1975 Jeep CJ-5 owned by a California farmer named Vince Orgon.

Orgon has always had an affinity toward old-school vehicles, and if it sounds like a tractor and drives like a tractor, well, it could very well be a Jeep CJ-5. Over the course of two years, Orgon took his old-school CJ-5 and made it into the dependable beast that it is today. Far different from a tractor than the classic Jeep ever was before. The main purpose of his build was to give him and his wife something to go out and explore the wilds with.

At the heart of the Jeep is a 5.3L Vortec V-8 out of a ’05 Chevy pickup. The engine is backed up by a 4L60E automatic transmission. Vince intentionally left the powertrain stock for reliability. The custom install did require a computer flash, new engine mounts, and being a 1975 and exempt from California emissions laws, all the smog equipment was removed. Residing at the back of the 4L60E is a Dana 300 transfer case with 4:1 gear reduction. Custom driveshafts send power to the differentials.

Up front, a Dana 44 from a GM 3/4-ton pickup is set up with 4.88 gears, an Eaton E-Locker, and Wilwood disc brakes. On the back end, Orgon is running a Dana 60 out of a Ford 3/4-ton truck. The Dana 60’s strength is boosted with Dutchman 30-spline chromoly axleshafts that spin 4.88 gears and an Eaton Detroit Locker. Stopping power on the rear axle is provided by a set of Ford 11-inch drum brakes. To get enough pressure to properly operate the front and rear brakes, Orgon chose a Summit Racing 8-inch dual diaphragm brake booster coupled with a Summit Racing master cylinder.

Going along with the military and agricultural theme of simplicity and strength, the CJ was kept on leaf springs. Orgon chose Rubicon Express springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks to get the Jeep elevated and flexing right. Keeping leaf springs meant he had to custom build an anti-wrap bar for the back end to keep the Dana 60 under control. Goodyear 35x12.50R15 MT/R Kevlar tires help keep the Jeep moving over the terrain with ease.

Vince said the easiest part of the build, which he did almost entirely himself (with some help from friends and family), was the paint and body work. Mil-spec oil-based desert tan coats the outside. Inside, the stock rollbar was added on to and provides the extra strength when travelling the Rubicon, Fordyce, or other Sierra Nevada trails. A Dakota Digital All-In-One gauge keeps the driver in the know while cruising on the streets or the rocks.

Overall, Vince is happy with his build. His Jeep is a full-fledged member of his family and was the backdrop for proposing to his girlfriend of five years. He definitely likes to think of the Jeep as his lucky charm.

The well-equipped CJ-5 made short work of most of the obstacles on Pumpkin Eater trail outside of Barstow, California. Loose boulders and steep inclines made the trail difficult for most every Jeep on the run.
The short wheelbase is a hindrance when it comes to steep waterfall climbs. This is one of the few things Vince Orgon said was bad about his Jeep.
In a world full of long-wheelbase Wranglers with coil springs, Vince Orgon’s 85-inch wheelbase CJ-5 flexes amazingly well. Leaf springs are old technology that still works well.
Leaf-spring technology dates back nearly as far as the round wheel. Its naturally progressive nature allows for a balance between load bearing and flex.
Just about every Jeeper understands the troubles with a lack of storage space. Orgon’s CJ-5 utilizes a custom combination of components on his swing-out tire carrier to help take along the things he needs.
The Ford Dana 60 rearend has a custom brace to add strength and give a solid mounting point for the custom-built anti-wrap bar.
The front suspension also features a custom-built anti-wrap bar. Axle wrap can kill suspension components in a hurry.
The interior of this CJ-5 is clean and minimal. It features a full bedliner, CB built into the dash, Lokar transmission shifter, and twin sticks for the Dana 300.
The modified Smittybilt front bumper provides frontend protection and adds to the minimalist style. Illumination duties are handled by some KC HiLites and some units sourced from an agricultural supply depot.
A Chevy D44 was chosen for the front. Meant for a 3/4-ton truck, the D44 can easily handle the lighter weight of the CJ-5 and add some extra strength.
Orgon’s CJ-5 blends right in with the southern California desert. There are hardly any shiny bits, and the military oil-based desert tan paint keeps this Jeep under the radar.
A Vortec 5.3L V-8 sits under the hood and provides ample power and durability while on any of the trails Orgon decides to explore.
Goodyear 35-inch Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar sidewalls give provide needed traction. Vince used a Chassis Unlimited DIY beadlock kit to convert the ProComp 51 Series wheels.
Custom-built rocker guards and a military-style flip-down step flow with the minimalist theme. On the frame, just in front of the transfer case skid, KC HiLites Cyclone LEDs are used as rock lights.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: ’75 Jeep CJ-5
Engine: ’05 Chevy 5.3L Vortec V-8
Transmission: 4L60E four-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Dana 300 w/ 4:1 gear reduction
Axles: Dana 44 from 3/4-ton GM pickup, 4.88 gears, Eaton E-Locker (front); Dana 60 from ¾-ton Ford pickup, 4.88 gears, Dutchmen 30-spline chromoly shafts, Eaton Detroit Locker (rear)
Suspension: Rubicon Express six-leaf spring packs front and rear, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Wheels: 15-inch ProComp Series 51 w/ Chassis Unlimited beadlocks
Tires: Goodyear 35x12.50R15 MT/R with Kevlar

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