Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Fiberglass
Whether your Jeep body is beaten by use and abuse or it just lost the fight with cancer, many of us have thought about buying a replacement body tub. It is a big purchase, and there are many factors to consider when weighing the options. Everyone is fairly familiar with the pros and cons of a stock Jeep steel body tub-but once you start talking aftermarket steel body tubs, things change. Start talking about rust-proof aluminum and fiberglass options and things change even more. Only you can decide which one is right for you. Here are some of the pros and cons of each body material type and some specifics from various manufacturers.
Used Jeep tubs are a known entity, but what about replica steel tubs? A little known fact about replacement tubs is that there is only one manufacturer and it is based in the Philippines. The quality control of the tub as it comes off of the boat leaves quite a lot to be desired, and the price you pay will typically reflect just how much work the reseller has put into it to make it right. As we all know, there are many differences over the 70 years of Jeep production, and unless you do your homework, you might end up with fitment issues. Once you get the tub installed, it will behave the way your stock Jeep tub always has.
• Easy to weld if damaged
• No electrical grounding problems
• No rollbar mounting worries
• Looks just like stock
• Can still get cancer and rust away
• Once bent and repaired it's more likely to rust
Willys Overland Motors
Every steel body is born in the same hospital in the Philippines. Willys Overland used original bodies and frames to get correct specifications and built jigs off of them. The company corrects the incoming mal-formed bodies to OE specs. The company adds brackets and moves holes so it will bolt in just like your stock body did. Willys Overland tells us that 11/2-inch variance on hole locations, body channels, and other items is expected of the incoming bodies. The company adds emergency brake brackets on late 5's, 7's, and 8's. The company is so particular that it has separate MB and GPW bodies, three different CJ-5 tubs, CJ-2A (with or without tool cutouts) and CJ-3A (different bodies), CJ-3B, '72-'75 CJ-6, and two different CJ-7 bodies. The tubs are made from 18-gauge steel which is the same gauge as original. The company also offers new and used fenders, grilles, hoods, tailgates with logos, and windshield frames. Information: Willys Overland Motors, 888/265-5337 willysoverland.com
Rugged Ridge also offers 18-gauge body tubs but they are sold under licensed agreement with Chrysler. There are minimal firewall openings in these tubs, depending on the model. Typically there are holes for the steering column and brakes but you will likely have to locate and drill holes once you get the tub. The cowl on the later models is stamped for the factory heater intake. The bodies are E-coated, which means they are electrically charged and dipped in huge vats of coating that is also charged. This dipping process results in better rust resistance than any stock CJ tub ever had. Rugged Ridge offers bodies for every short-wheelbase Jeep built from 1942-1986. The company also does body panels for YJ and TJ, hoods, fenders, logoed tailgates, grilles, windshield frames, and doors. Information: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101, ruggedridgeoffroad.com