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The Last Trail Rig! - Willys Flatfender

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2011
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Photographers: Fred Williams

Charlie Melchner has been four-wheeling in some sort of 4x4 for as long as he can remember. The longtime wheeler has owned a boatload of 4x4s over the years, but like some of us he has had a desire to build the ultimate rig, one that would last the rest of his lifetime. A 4x4 that would meet all his family's trail and adventure needs was always a burning thought. It came to fruition one day when he ran across a '40-ish Willys flatfender Jeep.

The Jeep of a lifetime for the Melchner family needed to go fast in the open yet crawl with ease over the toughest trails. The vehicle had to be built with the best parts to withstand the punishment it would find on the trail. Most importantly, the rig had to be versatile. It would be used for entertaining the family on mild trails but would also need horsepower and bulletproof suspension tough enough to compete in events like King of the Hammers.

Tech Specs
1940-ISH Willys Flatfender
Engine: 434ci V-8 Dart small-block
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case: Stak 3-speed 5.0
Axles: Spidertax 9, Detroit locker, 300m shafts, CTM U-joints, 5.13 gears

The fire-breathing powerplant under the crawler's hood is a 443ci small-block V-8, which had 643 hp on the dyno, more than enough ponies to push around in competition and on family outings.

Springs & Such: 3-link (aluminum arms), Radflo coilovers and hydraulic bumpstops, Ballistic Fab joints in front; same in the rear
Tires & Wheels: 40X13.50R17LT Maxxis M8060 Trepadors on 17x10 Race Line beadlocks
Other Stuff: Tom Wood's driveshafts, 1350 joints, PSC hydraulic steering front and rear, custom steering, Holley aluminum heads, Holley EFI, Willys aluminum tub stretched 10 inches and dovetailed, custom rock rails and bumpers, seats from PRP Seats, crow belts, Ramsey 9500 UT winch, Light Force lights and ORU, rock lights, custom full rollcage integrated into the body and frame, Grant steering wheel, satellite radio

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