After working with Rick Péwé and seeing his backyard full of old flatfender Jeeps (most in a state of disrepair) I swore I wouldn’t be like him. I love flatties and always wanted one. But I swore I would only have one. I eventually got one to build. I bought it a few years back, tried to fix one small thing, and ended up doing a frame-off rebuild because that’s how these things work. Most old Jeeps have years and years of issues that snowball from different owners until you rescue them, and then you either patch them back together enough to keep wheeling or tear them all the way down and hope you find the time to put it all back together. I have little time, so I still have my first flatfender, but it’s in pieces in that back corner of my shed.
But back to my rule: I don’t need more than one of any make or model 4x4. Even though I have had multiples in the past, I realized one of each is plenty. One Chevy pickup, one Toyota, one rock buggy, one flatfender. But somehow in the past 12 months I went from owning one Willys Jeep CJ to owning four! (I’m not counting the FC, Willys wagon, early ’70s CJ5, just Willys CJs) About eight months ago I bought a CJ3A for an episode of our YouTube video series Dirt Every Day where Péwé, Freiburger, and I got it running in his backyard. (Watch it online; it’s pretty cool how we found the engine half-full of water and yet were still able to get it back moving under its own power). So then I had two CJs, but I justified it because this one was the frame-off flatty and the other was the patched-together flatty.
Fast-forward to a month ago. I found an old flatty at a ranch that I drug home for next to nothing. This was a total fluke. I planned on parking it in my yard as yard art. You know, something old and ratty to grow flowers or watermelon in, put Christmas lights on, and tick off the neighbors with. But it backfired. My neighbors all dig it because they are all Jeepers as well. Compared to the rusty East Coast Jeeps I grew up wrenching on, this rusty CJ2A is pretty complete and could be running with a week’s work and some new tires. Plus it’s all original and a 2A, whereas the other two are 3As. So again I justified having it.
Starting next month I will show you the fourth Flatfender Jeep in the mix. This is a giant project, a super over-the-top summer camp (hint hint) flatty with gobs of power and a top-of-the-line, go-fast, flexy suspension as well as beefy gearing and lightweight axles. It’s a long way from a stock rusty ranch Jeep and a very different type of flatfender. Purists may hate it, but that’s why I have the other three—one to satisfy every Jeep style fanatic. And so I feel I can justify it as well. So basically I broke my rule of owning just one, but that’s because I have four flatfenders that are all very different. Of course they are all unfinished or in a state of disrepair, so apparently I am becoming like Péwé. I guess I broke two of my rules.