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1997 Jeep Wrangler - Mayhem To Moab: Part 1

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 13, 2014
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Working for a magazine is a pretty weird gig. Every month you need to get your stories done to get the issue out the door. We have project trucks just like you that we’re constantly trying to get finished, but we also need to photograph and write about all those parts we’re adding so you can see what we did and why.

“We’re idiots and gluttons for punishment”

We intended this story to be the second installment of the 4L80 swap into the Alabama Army Truck we started in our June ’14 issue (“Over, Under Upgrades”). However, just like everyone, we got stuck waiting for parts. Much like you are probably worried about getting your truck done for the next trail ride, we are worried about getting our truck done for the next issue.

So we have pages to fill and no parts. Now what? This is where it gets crazy. We decided to just go get a different vehicle to build. Actually there is more to it than that. We are typing this just a month before the big Moab Easter Jeep Safari, which happens every year leading up to Easter Sunday in Moab, Utah. We’ll be there as usual, and you’ll see all our coverage in the September issue. And as many of you know, that last month leading up to Moab (or any big trail ride) is a mad dash to finish or fix your 4x4. We’re just going a step further and waiting to start our build a month before Moab.

This Jeep is a lot of fun to drive stock. It goes down the road without too much drama, and would be great for any kid fresh out of hig school or college looking for a first job and needing a little four-seat vehicle with a working heater. Ours even came with a practically new Bestop soft top and the coveted half-doors. But we are not looking for such a vehicle; we are going to transform this Wrangler in a month to make it ready for the red rocks of Utah. Jeeps are great because they are so well supported in the aftermarket that you can get anything for them and most of it bolts right on. Don’t expect too much custom fabrication in the next installment, as we will try to build this Jeep as capable as possible with mostly off-the-shelf parts. We’re sure some day in the future a Jeep restoration fanatic will cringe at the thought of us modifying a perfectly stock TJ, but that day hasn’t arrived. Next month we tear it apart.

You read that right. Rather than finish what we started, we went out and got more work to try and get done in a very short time. This doesn’t make sense in the normal space-time continuum, but magazine writers are not bound by such things as logical work solutions and days of the week. We constantly try and stuff a dozen 28-hour workdays into a seven-day week and still find time to play. We either really like 4x4s or we’re idiots and gluttons for punishment.

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