Brandon Howell is currently stationed in Yakota, Japan, and his ’05 Jeep TJ has been in government storage for three years, but it’s not forgotten. When he gets back this spring, the plans include taking the Jeep to Colorado and taking another trip to Moab where the TJ has already completed Hell’s Revenge and other trails running just Fabtech rocker guards. Now the Jeep is equipped with HighRock 4x4 bumpers front and rear, a Rokmen gas tank skid plate, and a Fabworks UCF Deep-Cover transfer case skidplate system. The TJ has a 4.0L six-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual and 4.10 gears. The Jeep gets extra clearance from a 2-inch body lift over 33x10.50R15 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires along with a 1-inch engine lift.
Ever since the day Steve De Simone bought his ’75 CJ-5, took it home and dialed-in the carburetor, it has never failed him. Even on its maiden voyage 40 miles east of San Diego beyond cell phone coverage, with no jack, no gas can, or winch, the Jeep never hesitated. The CJ-5 has an AMC 304ci V-8 engine with an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold, Holley 670 cfm Truck Avenger carburetor, and an upgraded DUI ignition. The engine is backed by the original T15 three-speed transmission along with a Dana 20 T-case, a Dana 30 front axle, and a Dana 44 rear axle. A 4-inch Rancho suspension front and rear makes room for some 33-inch-tall Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires that are used on everything from moderate trail runs to cruises on the beaches of Southern California.
Steve Santa Cruz of Frederick, Colorado, got the motivation for this ’87 XJ when he read an article in Jp about building a capable Cherokee without breaking the bank, and we couldn’t be more proud. He says this is his first attempt at making a crawler and that he’s “done 99.9 percent of the work in a two-car garage.” The XJ has a ’92 4.0L HO engine swap with a big-bore throttle body, AFE cold-air intake, an aluminum radiator with dual fans, and a Pro Comp transmission cooler with a fan. Power is sent through an AW4 automatic transmission, NP231 transfer case, Dana 30 high-pinion front axle, Dana 44 rear axle, 4.88 gears, and Powertrax Lock-Right lockers front and rear. Protection comes from a 1.5-inch DOM cage, custom 2x6-inch rock sliders, recovery points front and rear, frame stiffeners, and a custom front bumper with an XRC8 winch with synthetic rope. A 4.5-inch BDS long-arm kit and trimmed fenders made more than enough room for the 33x12.50R15 BFG KM2s.
Valentina Miller of Farmington, Minnesota, sent us this photo of what her ’90 YJ used to look like before it was totaled on New Year’s Eve. It was rebuilt and the engine is a recent swap that replaced a 5.2L with a 5.9L V-8 from a ’97 Dodge Ram, and the rear axle is an 8.8 from a Ford Explorer. To aid in recovery, the YJ rides on 31x10.50R15 Goodyear Wrangler tires, has an 8,000-pound winch, and auxiliary lamps that came from a mine in Minnesota. It sounds like recovery equipment is important in this family since the flame paint job was a result of Valentina’s father totaling the Jeep. He managed to revive the YJ and passed it down to Val when she turned 16 years old, so we have a pretty good feeling this YJ may rise from the ashes again.
The Recession Jeep
Tony Rarey of Winlock, Washington, calls his ’79 CJ-5 Renegade “The Recession Jeep” because he started this project in 2008 and has been making progress $200 at a time. He’s owned the Jeep since 1988, and now it has a 350ci V-8 Chevy engine with “just enough cam to make it sound mean,” an Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake manifold, Hedman block-hugger headers, and a Novak radiator. The TH350 transmission is connected to a Novak adapter, a Dana 20 transfer case, a Dana 30 front axle, and a Dana 44 rear axle. Inside the CJ-5, you’ll find AutoMeter gauges, a Flaming River steering column, and Corbeau seats. Tony says just about every other part is new or has been restored, and the Jeep is used for hunting, driving on the beach, and “for showing off.”
Mean and Green
Bryan McDonald is a Marine at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and he’s been building this ’98 TJ since he was 16 years old. The suspension is lifted with 4-inch Old Man Emu coils all around with 3⁄4-inch leveling spacers up front, Rancho RS9000XL adjustable shocks, TeraFlex bumpstops, Rough Country X-Flex control arms, and JKS adjustable track bars. In the rear is a Ford 8.8 axle with 31-spline shafts, and in front is a high-pinion Dana 30 axle with trussing and gussets by Artec and Nitro chromoly shafts. Both are equipped with Detroit Truetrac differentials. A Currie Currectlync steering system with Rancho RS7000MT damper and a Durango steering box keep things straight. The NP231 transfer case has a Tom Woods HD 32-spline output shaft and a CV driveshaft. The TJ rides on 15-inch Pro Comp 7069 Series black alloy wheels with 35x12.50R15 Pro Comp MT2 tires. The 4.0L engine has an AEM Dryflow filter inside a K&N cold-air intake kit, a throttle body spacer, Banks Torque Tubes headers, and a 3-inch full exhaust with a Flowmaster catalytic converter and a Pacesetter cat-back exhaust. Bryan says he has no trouble locking up the 35-inch tires thanks to a Vanco 15-inch Big Brake Kit with dual-piston calipers, a Wagner master cylinder, and Black Magic brake pads.
Look At Me Now
Dray Katanic of Jacksonville, Florida, says he got divorced at 12:30 pm and by 4:00 pm the same day he bought the Jeep his ex-wife never wanted in the driveway. He didn’t plan for it to happen that way, but he says there are no words to describe the look on her face when she saw his ’94 YJ. The Jeep has the 2.5L four-cylinder engine, AX5 transmission, NP231 transfer case, Dana 35 rear axle, and a Dana 30 front axle. It rides on 33x12.50R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires on 15x10-inch wheels and has a 2.5-inch lift. Other upgrades include Smittybilt bumpers with LED driving lamps, a Smittybilt XRC 8 winch up front, rock sliders, a Hi-Lift Jack mounted on the hood, LED spot lamps, and cargo packs on the spare tire.
Chris Wilson of Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, didn’t estimate the worth of his ’05 Rubicon project because, as he says, “It’s worth more to me than paper.” He built the Impact Orange Jeep for trail rides and crawling with a 4.5-inch suspension lift by Rubicon Express. The Jeep is powered by a 4.0L engine that’s backed by a six-speed NSG370 manual transmission along with the factory Rubicon 4:1 transfer case. It rides on 33x12.50R16 tires with 16-inch wheels and has a narrow front bumper with a brush guard and a Warn winch.
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Jp Magazine, Jeep Shots
831 S. Douglas St.
El Segundo, CA 90245