I’ll admit it. Sometimes I’m not that bright. Like back in the winter of 2007 when I sold my hard-working p.o.s. ’89 F-250 and bought a brand-new Cummins-powered Dodge Ram Megacab 4x4. It was my first new vehicle and I loved that damn diesel—too much, in fact. I drove it on countless road trips and put it to work hauling all sorts of heavy trailers throughout the country. But anytime I had to haul a greasy engine, take a load of brush or grove waste to the dump, or haul lumber or steel, I balked. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting the interior greasy, denting the bed floor, or putting the slightest scratch in the paint. In reality, my perfect truck was as imperfect as you could get. After all, what good is having a pickup if you’re afraid to use it as a pickup? I finally came to my senses, sold the diesel, and began the search for a replacement I wouldn’t be afraid to work hard and put away wet.
I scoured Craigslist, eBay, Auto Trader, and countless other online sources for months. I really wanted an FC-170, Willys pickup, or a mid-’70s J-truck that I could use to haul junk with impunity and tow the occasional Jeep project on a trailer. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, as soon as I had a lump of cash burning a hole in my pocket, all the good Jeep candidates dried up and blew away. I was getting disgruntled, and after weeks of fruitless searching I caved and widened my gaze to cover non-Jeep pickups. I was super-close to pulling the trigger on a 440-powered ’75 Dodge W200 4x4 when I stumbled across a ’72 J4000 pickup on Craigslist. The ad wasn’t very descriptive, but the two-tone white over Avocado Mist green paint caught my attention, and lack of rot and farm-spec bed bars sealed the deal. At $2,250, I wasn’t about to argue the price no matter what the drivetrain held or how much work it needed. There was just one problem. I couldn’t get the seller to reply to my emails for a couple weeks, and there was no phone listed in the ad. When he finally did get back to me, it was only to let me know that A) the truck was all stock, including the interior, 360 engine, and drum-braked 1⁄2-ton axles; B) it had been stored for about 7 or 8 years, but was still registered and could use a tune-up; and C) a guy was coming over that night to buy it. The Jeep had been in the seller’s family since it was new and was only used for hauling hay for the family’s horses and moving trailers around their property. I told the seller to let me know if the guy flaked and immediately chalked it up as a loss.
However, as you can see from the photos, I got an email the next day. Apparently the prospective buyer tried to low-ball the seller, who showed him the door. Before you could say “low-mile J4000,” I was on the road for the seller’s house. You know the rest. So here’s the start of what I’m calling Project FarmHaul. It’s not a Farmall tractor, but I’ll be treating it like one. It’s a workhorse tool that’s not going up on a pedestal. So far I’ve made countless trips to the dump with the bed full of refuse from my avocado grove, I’ve transported engines for my other Jeeps, and have even towed trailered projects to and from shops. In upcoming installments I’ll be focusing on making it handle a little better, pull a little stronger, and stop more safely. But I’m not gonna do anything that detracts from the vintage vibe of this old farm Jeep. It’s my vintage hauler, not a crazy off-roader or blingy show Jeep. It’s the FarmHaul.