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Project Murderous Overkill Update - '48 Willys Pickup

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 24, 2008
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Yes, I Can Tell Time. And, Yes, I Realize The First Installment Of Jp Magazine's Project Murderous Overkill Appeared In The November

'05 issue. But what are you gonna do? I'm just one guy trying to balance a crazy workload, four or five project vehicles at any one time, parenthood, and the hectic soup that is life. It'd be a lot easier if I had just dropped my '48 Willys pickup off at a shop and came back a month later to pick it up. But like you, I feel the need to build my junk myself. So why the delay? What's the hold up? Have I just forgotten about this cool hot-rod-inspired vintage 4x4? Hardly. I trip over it every time I go in or out of my little two-car garage.

At first, the plan was to take parts and pieces I had lying around, throw them all into the '48 pickup I traded my wife's cousin a winch for, and pound the piss out of it on every hard-core trail I could manage to get it to. But then the Olds 455 I yanked from my '69 Cutlass needed to have the crank drilled for a pilot bearing so I could run the SM465 transmission I had. And since I was removing the crank, it made sense to go ahead and do a full rebuild. Then when I did the suspension, I ran into a bunch of frame problems, which led to a full rollcage. The full rollcage led to a rear cage. The rear cage morphed into a prerunner-type treatment. The prerunner treatment led to a desire to make it a prerunner. So now that's where I'm at. And now that it's destined to be a prerunner, I'm not going to run a manual tranny. The 12 or 14 inches of travel I'll be able to eke out of the leaf spring suspension I installed is woefully inadequate for a prerunner, so it's eventually gonna get junked in favor of a link suspension with coilovers and bypass shocks. Ugh. The SM465 is finding its way into my '68 M-715, as noted elsewhere in this issue, and the suspension-well, let's just say it'll hit the dunes a few times with the leaf springs before I rip it out for the long travel coilover setup.

So, for now, my '48 lies in wait for me to get a little more time. I recently had TCI Auto build a monster TH400 transmission to handle the nearly 1,000 lb-ft of torque the engine makes on nitrous. My new Stak 3-speed T-case just arrived, so as soon as I can afford to buy a spendy billet flexplate, I can assemble the drivetrain and swing it between the framerails. Once the drivetrain is in, I'll finish up the front of the cage, hang the fuel cell, remount the skinned bed sides and hood, and then get to doing all the little stuff like the brake, steering, and electrical systems. In short, there's still a long road ahead, but I'm pecking away at it as funds and time allow. And for those of you savvy enough to visit from time to time, you already know that I've been posting updates of any progress on our blogs section at

Check our site often, since a lot of what I'm working on at the moment doesn't warrant a full magazine installment article. And don't forget to look for articles overviewing the transmission, transfer case, and covering the drivetrain installation sometime later in 2008. And don't worry. eventually I'll finish my vintage "pre-rodder."

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