Dream '69 Jeepster
Back in Moab '09, Hazel and I were talking about what cool Jeeps were where, and this Jeepster came up in conversation. Hazel didn't have time to shoot it before he left for home, so I said I'd keep my eye out for it. The next day, I decided to go on a trail ride on Fins and Things with some industry friends. Lo and behold, this awesome Jeepster pulls in. The exact Jeepster Hazel had told me about the day before. Turns out it was built by Off Road Evolution, and owned by Terra Hagel, the wife of a guy I ran into on the trail a few years ago. Sometimes things just come together.
Once I saw it, with its V-8, auto trans, and custom coil-over suspension, I knew it was something Jeepster aficionados would love to see. A lot of tech in this Jeepster can be applied to other Jeepsters, and I knew I was going to write a feature on it. It really was just too cool to pass up.
The stock frame is still there, but with a ton of tube and custom work done to it to stiffen it up and hang the linked suspension. A combination of custom brackets and off-the-shelf parts comprises the suspension. Fox coilovers get the nod for elevation and articulation up front; out back, a modified Off Road Evolution Evo-Lever allows for plenty of suspension travel and shorter coilovers that don't necessitate poking through the body of the Jeep. Fox air bumps were located at all four corners to keep the massive tires out of the fenders.
Out back is a custom three-link suspension with a wishbone-style upper that works with a Currie Anti-Rock sway bar; the front is a unique three-link with Panhard bar (think stock TJ-esque suspension without a passenger-side upper link) for better articulation and clearance. The front and rear suspension conspire together and the Jeep got a 7-inch bump in wheelbase up to 108 inches. A custom tubular skidplate with 1/8-inch-thick sheet steel protects the transfer case and transmission.
Out front, a PSC steering box is covered in a 3/16-inch-plate framerail stiffener/winch mount setup. The pan hard bar mount is also 3/16-inch steel and is braced back to the passenger side framerail through a 11/4-inch, 0.120-wall tube to keep from stressing the factory framerails.
The Chevy 6.0L V-8 engine from a '04 Silverado has plenty of oomph for this Jeep. It was fitted to the framerails via some custom brackets and rubber motor mounts. The engine internals were left alone for maximum reliability, but breathe in through a custom U-shaped intake with a K&N filter. It exhales through custom David Chappelle headers and a true-dual exhaust with 3-inch Dynomax mufflers that dump in front of the rear wheels. A PWR performance radiator keeps things cool and is located in custom mounts.
Power is then handed off to a 4L65E from the same '04 controlled by an Art Carr shifter. A 4.3:1 Atlas II sends power out to the front and rear Dynatrac Pro Rock 60's with 5.13 gears and ARB Air Lockers. Big stopping power comes from Dynatrac's Big Kit upgrade and is pressed on by a Vanco Brake vacuum booster and master cylinder assembly. The tires are 40x13.50R17 BFG MT KM2s mounted on 17x9 Spyderlock beadlock wheels.
Body and Interior
The front fenders are custom Off Road Evolution pieces from tube and 1/8-inch plate steel. The stock Jeepster grille was clearanced on the back side for the aluminum radiator and 6-inch PIAAs were swapped in to serve as headlights. The rockers were trimmed back and are protected by tubular rocker guards that are tied into the cage, which is in turn tied back into the frame.