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1948 Jeep CJ-2A: Pete’s Jeep Revival

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2012
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If there is one project I’ve been working on longer than any other, it would have to be Pete’s Jeep. It’s an on-again, off-again, on-again project that just never seems to go away. Not that we would want it to, as it’s one of my favorites, but enough has been modified since the last redo that I figured it needed a good recap of recent mods.

Since the ’48 CJ-2A was purchased as a rolling, somewhat running wreck back in 1985, it has been through countless changes. It started out as a project for my father-in-law, Pete, and me, since he had wanted one since the War (that’s World War II for you young’ns). First, the pile was taken back to stock style with the exception of the Chevy II 153 four-cylinder engine. That’s basically half a small block, with plenty of torque as well as fuel economy. But after he wheeled a few good years this way, I swapped in a carbureted Chevy 4.3L Vortec V-6 with a TH350 auto to make it drive easier. But by the mid ’90s Pete stopped driving it, and it hibernated in the Arizona desert for 10 years.

Three through the years.

The Jeep’s new lease on life came about when Pete finally decide to give it to me, since he didn’t drive it, and I did a DED (Dirt Every Day) tour to California with Hot Rod Editor David Freiburger (“El D.E.D. del Diablo,” June ’04). That was even with the 20-year-old TruTrac tires, which worked phenomenally well for another five years.

Some years later I prepped it for a Moab trip starting with a Bestop Bikini and Bestop low back seats. Mechanically, the jicky ratchet shifter disappeared for a good functioning Lokar shifter, and Lock-Rites were installed in the stock Dana 41 and 25 axles for positive traction. With a Warn full-float axle kit in rear the Jeep performed solidly for another few trips, runs, and years, even during two mud tire tests (“Mini Mud Tire Shootout,” Oct. ’09, and “Mud Terrain Shootout, Part 2,” June ’10).

Alas, as time wore on more was needed for the old girl, so here are the most recent upgrades over the past few years.

Easy Does It
I figure that using Pete’s Jeep as my main little trail Jeep means I have to keep upgrading a bit at a time, without destroying the simple elegance and reliability of an old flattie. What do you think? What are the easiest and best bangs for the buck that you would recommend for Pete’s? Drop us a line at and you might see them used on the next installment of Pete’s Jeep!

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