Building a Flattie From Scratch
Just because flatfenders were the first mass-produced four-wheel-drive vehicles does not mean that they are obsolete in todays world of automatic traction control and ABS systems. Just the opposite is true. Its hard to beat a built flattie no matter where you are driving. One reason that these little Jeeps are still popular is because of the huge amount of replacement parts available. The theory of building a complete flattie with all new parts is not a new idea, and we here at Jp have decided to put this idea into practiceat least for this article about a fictional ultimate flatfender.
If you are going to build an all-new flatfender youre going to need a lot of new stuff. The best place to start would be with a sturdy aftermarket frame. Many frame companies will build your frame to your specifications so you better know what you want. We plan on using the old trick of mounting Wrangler rear springs on all four corners, so we are going to need some spring-mounting points and four of the elusive six-leaf heavy-duty Wrangler springs. Six leaves should give us tons of flex with just about the correct spring rate. The extra spring should also keep us from developing too much axlewrap during acceleration. driveline
Why not start with Jeeps top-of-the-line engine: the 4.7L V-8. We have heard of a few brave souls that have used this motor in other Jeeps. We would pull the motor out of a wrecked ZJ or newer Dodge Dakota. The simplest trans to use would be the 45RFE automatic tranny, but it would probably cause length problems in a flatfender, so we would opt for the NP435 out of an older Dodge truck. According to Jeffs 4x4 (352/564-1266) and Advance Adapters, the bolt pattern is the same as a Jeep or Dodge truck 318, but the 4.7Ls flywheel must be machined to fit inside the bellhousing, so theoretically this swap should work. Between our NP435 and some Dana axles we would install an Atlas II 4.3 transfer case.
The 4.7L should be a fairly light engine, and we feel you could get away with running a Dana 44 up front. We would opt for 5.38 ring-and-pinions and some type of manual locker like an Ox Trax or ARB for the front. The rear would be a Dana 60 with a locker and 5.38:1 gears. We would also do what we could to keep everything tucked up as high as possible. It would be ideal if we could raise the floor to keep all of the Jeeps innards above the bottom of the framerails.
Body & Interior
Since there are a few companies that offer completely new body tubs with fenders, hoods, and tailgates you could have any flatfender style you want from a GPW to a CJ-3B. So which one would we choose? Well, any of them would be damn cool. The best part is this new body would be straight and clean with no rust in the floorboards or bondo mucking it up. Next, were gonna need some paint, and we want some tough paint that will protect the body from rust, rain, and the rocks. If we decided to go with a CJ flattie we would want an original color like the red or yellow that many civilian Jeeps came with from the factory. If we went with a military body we would shy away from olive drab, not because its not cool, but just to be a bit different. How about a flat navy blue, or a desert theme like the SAS Jeeps that fought WWII in North Africa. We will also need a canvas soft top, a full cage tied into the frame, some nice race seats, a Tuffy Security console for our stereo and some water-resistant speakers from our favorite marine supply store.
Tires & Wheels In keeping with the restomod theme of our 02 flatfender we would stick our 35x12.50x15 mud tires to a set of 15x8 original-style black wheels. And since we will probably need them we would also like to have a set of black bead locks attached to our simple wheels.
Good, Bad, & What It's For
This little Jeep is for wheelin. The motor and drivetrain should make it fun to drive just about anywhere you can imagine, but the best part would be how you could explain to other Jeep nuts how none of it is original.