Point And Shoot
We were looking for some friends in a campsite one night in Moab, and they weren't there. But in driving around the camp, we found this yellow Jeepster that was most definitely trail-rated.
One thing led to another, and pretty soon we were out on Pritchett Canyon shooting a feature of James Ray Kelley's '67 Jeepster Commando.
With a name like James Ray Kelley, you might think of famous assassins who always seem to have two first names in front of their last name, but rest assured, Kelley is one of the nicest guys you'd care to sit around the fire and trade stories with.
We aren't sure if it is the way he built his Jeep or his driving skill, but all we had to do was ask if he'd drive up something for a picture, and he'd look up and say: "No problem." Every time he'd go up with no problem, just as advertised-thus earning the title "Point and Shoot" because he just made it look easy.
|Vehicle: '67 Jeepster Commando||Axles:'80 Chevy Dana 60 (front); '73 Chevy 14-bolt (rear)|
|Engine: '94 Chevy 4.3L Vortec||Wheels:15x10 Chrome Modular|
|Transmission: '00 Chevy 4L60E four-speed auto||Tires:38x12.50-15LT Super Swamper TSL/SX|
|Transfer Case: Atlas II, 4.3:1||Built For: Built out of boredom and to see if it could be done|
|Suspension: 6-inch lift, front spring-over axle, rear custom four-link/coil||Estimated Cost to Build: $9,000|
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Chassis and Driveline
The frame is still Jeepster, but it's from a '73 Jeepster. Right up to the front of the rear wheelwell, that is. From there back, tube was grafted on to make it easier to set up the rear triangulated four-link. The front springs are Rubicon Express 1433s working with a quartet of Doetsch Tech shocks, while the rear springs came from Currie and were intended for a late-model Jeep added to a pair of Rancho RS 9000 shocks. Front and rear, Kelley built custom shock hoops to get as much travel as possible out of the space he had.
There are about 6 inches of suspension lift, coupled with 3/4 inch of body lift that was brought about by an owner-fabricated body lift using Daystar polyurethane bushings. A Saginaw steering box rides along up front to help turn the 38x12.50-15 Super Swamper TSL/SX tires on 15x10 chrome steel rims. With only a little bit of body trimming, the tires clear the body and the suspension with no rubbing.
Motivation comes from a '94 Chevy 4.3L V-6 that was shoved in the engine bay using some custom motor mounts, radiator, air intake, and Sanderson headers. An Accel distributor handles spark, and a custom 2 1/2-inch exhaust gets rid of the spent fumes. Thanks to Chevy's aversion to changing things, the SM420 out of a '63 Chevy was an easy bolt-on to the engine.
Power goes from there through a Dana 300 with a 4:1 low range and twin stick shifters to a front Dana 60 with 4.56 gears and Detroit Locker. The rear axle is a Corporate 14-bolt with matching 4.56 gears and Detroit Locker. It also has a 3/4-ton Chevy rotor and 1/2-ton caliper that is pushed by a '77 Jeep Cherokee master cylinder.
For underbody protection, the tube bender came out and a tubular transfer case/transmission skidplate was bent up. Since the Jeepster body is a bit longer than normal Jeeps, Kelley wanted more clearance under the doors and cut approximately 5 inches of rocker panel off. He then added stout DOM tube nerf bars protecting the cut-down rockers. The rear of the Jeep got the same treatment for protection of the quarter panels, and the nerfs were integrated into the rear tube bumper/tire carrier. Up front, the bumper is a part of the frame and doesn't extend past the framerails, for the best approach possible. The fuel tank is a custom Kelley-built unit for the maximum in clearance and beatability.