Terry Estes wanted an M-715 ever since he went hunting with his father in one as a child. Terry must be way more patient than us, because he waited a number of years to find just the right truck. He eventually ended up finding the one he wanted sitting in a field outside his hometown of Kemper, Texas. Once taking possession of the 5/4-ton, Terry began performing unique modifications to bring his dream M-715 to fruition.
Chassis And Driveline
The engine is a swapped-in Chevy 6.2L diesel. This seems like a rather unconventional choice, but these motors are relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. Terry is a diesel fanatic and appreciates the simplicity, low-rpm torque, and fuel mileage offered by the 6.2L. A K&N 3-inch intake and custom 3 1/2-inch exhaust help the engine breathe more freely and make power when wheel speed is necessary.
Use of the 6.2L allows Terry to run a common two-wheel-drive GM SM465 manual transmission with an easy-to-find Chevy bellhousing. From there, power is routed to a swapped-in, divorce-mounted NP205 which is well protected and tucked up between the framerails. It splits torque to the steering Rockwell axles at each end of the Jeep. The 2 1/2-ton axles have the hubs flipped in for a narrower stance. They are fitted with the stock 6.72 gears, Detroit Lockers, shaved bottoms for more clearance, and Wilwood-calipered pinion brakes.
Steering for the front axle consists of a 2-inch bore, 8-inch stroke hydraulic ram assist from a forklift that turns the 1 1/2-inch, 3/8-wall DOM tie rod mounted behind the axle. The ram is plumbed into the stock Saginaw steering box, which is located downstream from a Borgeson steering shaft and Ididit tilt column. The rear steering uses the same ram- and tie-rod assembly as the front to keep things simple. However, it's controlled by a three-position toggle switch mounted on the dash. Simplicity continues with the suspension, which consists of the stock leaf springs in front and Superlift 6-inch-lift Chevy springs in the rear. Both are slung over the axles and used in conjunction with custom traction bars inspired by those used on Jp Magazine's very own Rockwell-shod Project Hot Dog.
The beauty of M-715s is they have huge wheelwells that can easily accommodate 38-inch-tall tires without any lift. The suspension Terry is running allows him to fit 44-inch Super Swamper TSLs on his Kaiser and still have the truck look proportional. The tires are mounted on 15x12 USA 6x6 double bead-lock wheels with custom centers to match the Rockwell bolt pattern. The use of pinion brakes accommodates the 15-inch rims and negates any issues with caliper or drum clearance.
Body And Interior
When Terry found his M-715, it had already passed through many hands.Multiple layers of military, forest-service, and fire-department paint jobs had done a good job of fending off rust. He chopped 20 inches off the back of the bed, bringing the rear of the frame even with the shackle hangers for an improved departure angle. He then returned the paint to its original drab-green splendor. There is still plenty of room in the bed for a fullsize NDT spare tire and a storage box full of tools and recovery gear.
Since he works as a welder for the Department of Defense, Terry had no problem fabricating a frame-mounted rollcage and other parts for his Kaiser. The cage was constructed from 2-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing and fits under the stock canvas top to retain the vintage look. This theme is continued throughout the interior and exterior, which was kept as original and basic as possible.
Up front, Terry added a winch mount and a Warn 8274 winch to the factory M-715 bumper. The sides received some frame-mounted tubular rocker guards that double as steps so he and the little lady can get inside easier.
A wiring harness from American Autowire replaced the factory wiring, and the fuse panel was mounted on the dash for easy troubleshooting. Dual Optima Red Top batteries were mounted in the original location between the seats along with a Gast 12-volt, twin-cylinder air compressor to air up the 44-inch Swampers with ease.
Good, Bad, & What's It For
There's something about drab-green paint, blackout lights, and huge tires that make any Jeep guy tingly inside. Using Rockwell top-loading axles allows for excellent driveshaft angles. However, the pinion brakes heat up quickly when used at high speeds over long distances. And because Terry already owns a heavily modified CJ-5, he plans to use his Kaiser for recreational wheeling with his family. The M-715 is much bigger and wider than the CJ, so it provides more stability on the trails. It might not fit in all of the same places and it weighs twice as much, but unlike with the CJ, Terry can convince his wife, Janet, to still ride in the M-715.
Why I Featured It
I like things that are different, and I like them even more when they work. The drivetrain combination in this Jeep is definitely unconventional, but it's strong, reliable, and functions well on the trail. Add drab-green paint and huge tires, and you have yourself a feature-worthy vehicle.-Harry Wagner
Vehicle:'67 Kaiser M715
Engine:6.2L, V-8 diesel
Transfer Case:Divorced NP205
Suspension:Spring-over leaf springs
Axles:Steering Rockwell 2 1/2-tons (front and rear)
Wheels:USA 6x6 15x12 double bead locks
Tires:18.5/44-15 Super Swamper TSL
Built For:Comfortable family wheeling