There are millions of different ways to build a Jeep. When the end of the MJ Comanche came about for the 1992 model year, a hole was left in the Jeep market. FCA has teased us with Jeep trucks for years and we may finally have a Wrangler-based Jeep truck on the way in the next few years. What can you do if you just can’t wait and want a body-on-frame Jeep pickup truck now? You do what Clint Malburg did and build your own.
The 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep brought folks from all over North America, traveling long distances to experience the pre-event pilgrimage to Moab, Utah, for the Easter Jeep Safari. Clint didn’t have to travel far, as he is a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, the kick-off point for the year’s Jp Dirt ‘N Drive.
He brought along his highly customized 1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ with a homebuilt truck bed conversion. “I saw some Jeeps like this at SEMA and thought it would be cool to build,” Clint explained. We agree completely; it was cool. Clint knew exactly what he wanted to build before he bought the Jeep. While making his plans, he found an OE replacement quarter-panel on Craigslist that someone had purchased to repair their TJ and then realized it was over their head. The panels on a TJ Wrangler are mostly flat and the main piece of this patch-panel Clint needed was the belt-rail of the tub for the soft top to hook into. With the exiting corners of the donor Jeep and the new panel, he now had what he needed to cap the cab behind the front seats and build a factory-looking bed.
The frame was stretched and the final wheelbase ended up 18 inches longer than stock. With that, the emergency brake cables, brake and fuel lines, and rear driveshaft also had to stretched. The main hoop of the roll bar was retained and then added on to. Clint wanted to keep the factory hardtop as an option so he sectioned out the middle and ’glassed it back together. Because the Jeep doesn’t have air conditioning and lives in the southern Nevada desert, Clint redesigned the rear window attachment so it could be removed with two bolts for better airflow.
As if all those body modifications weren’t enough, Clint also custom-built high-clearance front fenders after trimming the hood sides up. The custom front and rear fenders make ample clearance for the 37-inch Goodyear MT/Rs on 17-inch Method wheels. Under the hood lives a reliable stock 4.0L straight-six backed by a rebuilt AX-15 manual transmission. Splitting power to the front and rear differentials is a flipped Dana 300 transfer case with a 4:1 low-range conversion. The front and rear driveshafts were rebuilt and modified with 1350 U-joints by Dan’s Driveline in Las Vegas.
The stock front axle was ditched in favor of a Wagoneer Dana 44 loaded with 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker. Clint built the new track bar and steering linkage with PSC power assist to allow the Waggy 44 to work properly. He also decided to use custom long-arm links and 3-inch Rusty’s Off-Road Products coils up front. To fine-tune the ride height, JKS Adjustable Coil Over Spacers (ACOS) were installed, and Fox 2.0 shocks with reservoirs provide just the right amount of control. Out back, a Dynatrac 60 with 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker was slung under the frame using custom long-arm links and is capped with a Currie Enterprises diff cover. Rear damping duty is handled by Rock Krawler coil springs, and the shocks and bump stops are FOA and Fox, respectively. The rear shocks were moved outboard of the frame to provide a little more stability.
Clint started his own shop after retiring from the police force. To protect the underbelly, Clint built all the skidplates in his own shop, Rust To Dust Fabrications in Las Vegas, except for the fuel tank skidplate, which is from MetalCloak. It’s there that he built most of the Jeep you see in these photos. Like most Jeep owners, the process is never really finished. Who knows, by the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive, Clint’s rig may sport a V-8, auto trans, and an Atlas T-case.
Hard FactsVehicle: 1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: AX-15 Manual
Transfer Case: Dana 300 with 4:1 low-range
Suspension: (front) 3-inch Rusty’s coils, ACOS bumps, custom long-arms, Fox reservoir shocks; (rear) 3-inch Rock Krawler coils, custom long-arms, FOA shocks, Fox bumps
Axles: (front) Wagoneer Dana 44, 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker; (rear) Dynatrac 60, 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker
Steering: Custom-built with PSC power assist
Wheels: 17-inch Method
Tires: 37x12.50x17 Goodyear MT/R