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1988 GMC Jimmy: From Craigslist To A-List

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2012
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Aspontaneous decision to ride with a friend on the Rubicon Trail was the catalyst for the creation of this incredible ’88 GMC Jimmy. You see, Reno, Nevada, resident Dee Wade had never been on the Rubicon up to that point and what he experienced had a huge impact. “It changed my life,” he says of the two-day experience.

Building a fullsize rig for rocks and tight trails comes with its own set of challenges, especially if you wish to keep the body intact. Wade addressed these issues by narrowing the front clip 12 inches and boatsiding the body 9 inches. A custom Hardline front bumper offers a stout antidote to trail damage and it’s made from 2-inch-diameter, 0.188-inch-wall tubing and it has an integrated stinger, skidplate, and D-rings. Helping generate height and traction is a set of 37x12.50R15 Goodyear MT/R tires that are mounted to 10-inch-wide Cragar D Window wheels with ¼-inch-thick Copperhead Fabrication rim stiffeners. DuPont calls the color of the rig Buckskin, but Wade calls it “Hot Dog Bun Yellow.”

Wade, a heavy equipment mechanic, was hooked after running the Rubicon and he wanted to return with his own rig. Problem was, he didn’t have a rig that was Rubicon-ready. Now when most people think of a Rubicon-ready rig they think of something small and compact. Not Wade. This Chevy fan trolled Craigslist and found a fullsize ’88 Jimmy that was minimally modified with a 4-inch lift and a brand-new set of 35s. He liked what he saw, shelled out $2,800 for the rig, and took it home. “I wheeled it for about a week and decided that the 10-bolt rearend had to go. I swapped in a semi-floating 14-bolt, then came a locker, then some bumpers and sliders,” he says. With these mods he drove the Jimmy over the Rubicon for the first time. After that, things really took off. Wade, a competent fabricator as well as mechanic, began a full-on buildup of the Jimmy, using many parts he created at his part-time venture, Hardline Metal Works. This culminated with the Jimmy being driven over the Rubicon for a second time.

The front suspension is a simple, yet flexy setup that uses Chevy pickup rear-application 52-inch leaf springs. Wade rebuilt the spring packs and installed polyurethane bushings at the ends and strips of 1⁄8-inch-thick Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) polyethylene between each leaf to help eliminate binding and squeaking. He also moved the spring packs forward 2½ inches. He fabbed custom mounts and increased the bolt size at the upper shackle hanger from 7⁄16- to 9⁄16- inch. Other suspension components consist of 15-inch-travel Edelbrock piggyback-reservoir shocks and Pro Comp limiting straps.

Since then, the rig has seen a lot of trail time and undergone even more mods. We ran into Wade and his rig in Johnson Valley, California, where we had a chance to see the rig in action. Its capabilities put it on the A-list of off-highway vehicles.

PhotosView Slideshow

The Details
Owner/Hometown: Dee and Andrea Wade/Reno, Nevada
Vehicle/Model: ‘88 GMC Jimmy
Estimated value: $15,000
Type: GM 350ci V-8
Aspiration: TBI, custom 3-in-diameter exhaust, high-flow catalytic converter, Flowmaster muffler
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 14/15 (Wade’s words, not ours)
Transmission: SM465
Transfer Case(s): NP203/205, Offroad Design Doubler kit
Front: 52-inch Chevy leaf springs moved 2½-in outboard, 15-in-travel Edelbrock piggyback-reservoir shocks
Rear: Factory leaf springs moved 1½ inches outboard, flipped overload springs, ORD 1-in Zero Rate kit, 12-in-travel Fox 2.0 emulsion shocks
Front: GM Dana 60, Dynatrac cover, ORD high-steer arms, drag link, and tie rod, Wrangler YJ pitman arm, GM two-wheel-drive steering box /Detroit Locker
Rear: GM 14-bolt, shaved 1-in/Powertrax No-Slip
Ring and pinion: Yukon 5.13:1
Wheels: 15x12 Cragar D Window w/Copperhead Fabrication rim stiffeners
Tires: 37x12.50R15 Goodyear MT/R

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