In a world where slow and low are our chosen speed and gear, Matt Nappier and Justin Miller have taken their flatties on a different route. These two former military men are drag and Street Car Takeover event racers. Still lovers of old vintage Jeeps, they have also combined the desire and need for speed into these two truly one of a kind street machines.
You won’t see them crawling over the rocks or taking the Sunday drive down some scenic trail, but you will watch them smoke the tires and go screaming down the pavement at speeds you never imagined from something that once transported our soldiers through mud and muck on foreign soil.
Justin Miller of Cumming, Georgia, has a ’52 CJ-3A known as the “LSX Willys.” The initial build took about four months. "It began as a joke with a friend,” Justin said. He has tweaked it to perfection over the past four years. The LSX is a YouTube favorite, but we got the chance to see it in action live, and trust us, it did not disappoint.
Stuffing this 1,600hp 427ci LS3 Dart engine into such a small space was a bit of a challenge. Add to that the F1A Procharger supercharger and the hood needed some modification. Dart Pro 1 heads, Edelbrock Vic Jr intake manifold, DeatschWerks 1,500cc fuel injection, two-stage nitrous system from Nitrous Outlet, Be Cool Radiator, Powermaster Alternator and starter, and Stainless Works headers round it out, and nearly every cubic centimeter of available space in the engine compartment has been claimed. Internal engine mods include a Custom Cam Motion camshaft, K-1 Technologies crankshaft and connecting rods, and Wiseco Performance 9.7:1 pistons.
From the custom ammo can shifter cover that houses the B&M shifter for the GM 4L80E automatic transmission to the Jakes transbrake, custom shift kit, and R&R Racing torque converter, the interior is a mix of old, new, and unique. The list goes on with custom ammo can speaker boxes, Kicker audio system, Auto Meter gauges, Corbeau racing bucket seats, Pyrotech harness system, OEM steering wheel, and a dash mounted fire extinguisher.
The rear axle is a Moser Engineering custom 9-inch with 3.50 gears, OEM leaf springs, and Moser sway bar and wheelie bar. We didn’t witness the frontend leaving the pavement but can attest to the fact there is more than enough power to make it happen. Up front is a Moser straight axle—there are no gears or transfer case in this little two-wheel-drive Jeep. Omix-ADA front leaf springs support the additional weight of the powerplant, and Wilwood disc brakes and QA1 double adjustable shocks are on all four corners.
A reproduction CJ-3A body from Omix-ADA had a few modifications. The fuel filler has been plated off, and a 15-gallon fuel cell from Summit Racing was added to the rear of the Willys. The grille was cut out for the intercooler system. WWII OD Green paint and custom graphics give it that vintage appearance. Larry Jeffers Race Cars provided the custom cage. Weld Racing RTS s71 wheels are wrapped with Mickey Thompson Street R tires, and the big fat 31x16.5x15 tires leave a wide patch of rubber off the line.
HARD FACTS:Vehicle: ’52 Willys CJ-3A
Engine: Supercharged nitrous-injected 1,600hp 427ci LS3 Dart V-8
Transmission: GM 4L80E Automatic with Jakes transbrake
Axles & Suspension: Moser custom straight axle and Omix-ADA leaf springs (front); Moser custom 9-in with 3.50 gears, OEM leaf springs, Moser sway bar and wheelie bar (rear)
Wheels: Weld Racing RTS s71
Tires: Mickey Thompson Street R
Built For: To smoke the tires and run Street Car Takeover events nationwide.
ONE EYE WILLYS
Matt Nappier of House Springs, Missouri, is the proud owner of a ’48 CJ-2A known as “One Eye Willys.” Matt said he built One Eye to do “hood rat stuff with his race car buddies.” He is only a year into this build and there are a few additions and changes he plans to make. We like the old school appearance of this little Flattie.
Shoehorned under the hood is a turbocharged and nitrous-injected LS1 V-8. The 5.3L Chevy engine is, for the most part, stock, but there are a few items that ramp the horsepower up to the 1,000hp mark. The Turbonetics 82 mm mid-frame turbo paired with a Nitrous Express single-stage direct-port kit, DeatschWerks 1,500cc fuel injectors, and Vasko Speed and Performance Exhaust system forced the radiator to be rear-mounted, as there wasn’t any space remaining behind the grille.
The interior is more vintage than the engine compartment. The seats and steering wheel are replica Willys parts from Omix-ADA. The dash is little more “techy,” with a bit of that old fighter jet feel. Eight different Auto Meter gauges, and a Kicker audio system reside there. The TCI Outlaw shifter and the old ammo box shifter base is a unique feature, as is two nitrous bottles mounted on the rear fenders. Eventually Matt would like to add a rear seat so his two young children can ride along.
The rear axle is a GM 10-bolt from a ’02 Chevy Blazer. The 3.73 gears and factory rear disc brakes were retained, and an Eaton posi was installed. The front axle and disc brake setup is from a ’95 two-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee, and the axle was narrowed to fit. A Wilwood master brake cylinder, pedal, and proportioning valve were added to help slow this little hellion down. The front and rear leaf springs are original ’48 Willys. The frame was boxed 12 inches in front of and 12 inches behind the motor mounts to handle the extra torque from the motor. Rancho 9000 shocks are used on all four corners.
The body is a reproduction from Omix-ADA, and the auto body class at South Tech High School in Sunset Hills, Missouri, did an awesome job on the Desert Sand paint job. The flat black vinyl graphics by Get Exposed really stand out against the base color. Eventually Matt will add a custom rollcage to this Jeep. The front end is a standout feature and where “One Eye” gets its name. The turbo intake is in place of the passenger side headlight. So for additional illumination for those evening races an 18-inch LUMA LED lightbar was mounted under the front bumper. Cragar soft 8x15 inch wheels and a combination of BFG Radial A/T front and Mickey Thompson ET Street rear tires polish off the look.
HARD FACTS:Vehicle: 1948 Willys CJ 2A
Engine: Turbocharged nitrous-injected 1,000hp 5.3L LS1 Chevy V-8
Transmission: GM 4L80E Automatic
Axles & Suspension: narrowed two-wheel-drive ’95 Jeep Cherokee and original ’48 leaf springs (front); GM 10-bolt, 3.73 gears, original ’48 leaf springs (rear)
Wheels: Cragar Soft 8
Tires: (Front) BFG Radial T/A (Rear) Mickey Thompson Street R
Built For: To smoke the tires, Horsepower for Hope, and to run Street Car Takeover events nationwide.
We did convince the guys to take their Jeeps out in the dirt for a little fun. Seriously, even super-fast two-wheel-drive flatfenders look better in the dirt and red sandstone of Nevada.