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1,400 - Day Flattie - Custom 1949 Jeep Willy's CJ-3A Flatfender

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Christian Hazel
| Brand Manager, Four Wheeler
Posted July 27, 2006

O.D. Green and Build Real Clean

For starters, any green Jeep is cool. Well, not any Jeep. That is to say, not any green Jeep. Kelly green isn't really that cool. And we're usually not too crazy about electric-neon green. Also, we're sort of borderline on that bluish-green-metallic-puke color they used in the '90s. But we guess a Jeep that's painted one of those colors could technically be cool. OK, let's clarify. We're pretty much saying that any Jeep that is slathered in olive-drab-green paint is cool, unless it's got a bunch of nasty trinkets and bad engineering. Then it wouldn't be that cool. Just the color would be cool.

So before we get any more confused, what we're really saying is that David Learman's green Jeep is cool. Yeah, we're comfortable with that.

We spied David's flattie from across Dump Bump during the '05 Moab Easter Jeep Safari and instantly dug it. It sort of reminded us of our old boss Cole Quinnell's 14-Day Flattie. After briefly talking to David, we learned he made the trip to Moab from his home in North Tonawanda, New York. We didn't look at a map, but that sounds like a haul to us. He also told us he jokingly dubbed his '49, the 1,400-Day Flattie because it seems like it took that long to build.


While we're usually pretty sharp, it took us a few glances to realize that David had stretched his '49 a full 12 inches. David built his own frame that added 6-inches in the door opening and 6-inches in the rear wheelwell opening to stretch the wheelbase out to 94 inches. It's a really smart trick that keeps the stretch job from looking overly exaggerated. The result is a flattie that looks more stock than altered.

David began by hanging a pair of Tuff Country 2-inch lift rear YJ springs with a shackle reversal onto the front of his home-built frame. The 2-inch spring soaks up the weight of the V-8 and heavy drivetrain without giving the Jeep a nose-down attitude. Out back, a pair of stock five-leaf rear Wrangler springs was hung in a spring-over fashion. Like most spring-over suspensions using Wrangler springs, the rear suspension requires a traction bar to keep the pinion yoke from destroying itself from axlewrap -- David built his out of solid stock. A Rancho RS9000 shock at each corner keeps the suspension dialed to the terrain.

Hanging from those springs is a Dynatrac Dana 44 front axle sporting an ARB Air Locker, 4.56 gears, and alloy axleshafts. Apparently, David is a man of patience and finess because he's able to keep the front axle alive with 36s and a manual tranny. We'd just have a large pile of fragmented U-joint parts, so our hat is off to him.

Out back, a Currie 9-inch axlehousing plays host to a Currie High Pinion centersection full of 4.56 gears and a 35-spline spool. Out on the axle ends are a pair of parking-brake equipped Explorer disc brakes. Up front, stopping is via Wilwood aluminum calipers.


The entire drivetrain of the Jeep came out of a'71 Chevy 3/4-ton pickup. How's that for simple? Like Cole Quinnell's 14-Day Flattie, this drab Willys sports a hot Chevy 350 V-8. David built the 355ci engine himself, with 9:1 pistons, iron Vortec heads, and a Comp Cams Xtreme Energy cam with a split 200/208 degrees duration and a 0.472/0.480 lift on the intake and exhaust, respectively. Topping the small block is an Edelbrock Performance manifold with a Holley TBI Pro-Jection system. A pair of Advance Adapters fenderwell headers sends the fumes out the sides. The engine was slung in the frame using M.O.R.E. bomb-proof motor mounts and a bit of custom fabrication.

Backing the hot small block is the '71 SM465 transmission that was rebuilt by David's dad, Richard Learman. A Zoom clutch was added to the resurfaced flywheel for extra gription.

Finally, a massive NP205 T-case hangs from the factory Chevy adapter. The whole shabang is suspended from the framerails with a custom miter-cut crossmember built by David. It's ugly and hangs low, but it's only temporary. A pair of custom 1310 driveshafts by Denny's Driveshaft connects the T-case to the axles.


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