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Electric - 1970 Jeep Jeepster Commando

Front Close Up
Pete Trasborg
| Brand Manager, Jp
Posted October 1, 2010

Lime-Green CJ-101

Is it a CJ on a Jeepster body and frame? A Jeepster swapped to a CJ frame? We just weren't sure, and had to get a closer look to figure it out. Little things like the stock Jeepster frame and cool overflow bottle had us looking for more. Some kind of V-8 bolted to an SM420 and front and rear four-link suspension had us contacting the owner. A Jeepster is still a decent buy, and if you are going to build a Jeep up like this, then it makes a good platform. This one is completely home-built, and some well-selected components make it very capable, too.

The stock Jeepster frame, long-known to be weak and prone to cracking with hard off-road use, has been plated and has a couple of custom crossmembers welded in for strength. The cage ties back into the frame with bolt-through plates that allow easy body swapping when this body gets trashed.

Although a Jeepster rides nice in stock form, the factory leaf springs would never get Mike as far down the trail as his custom front and rear four-link setup. Mike used the same parts front and rear with 3/8-inch-wall lower control arms and 1/4-inch-wall uppers sporting 7/8 by 3/4-inch rod ends everywhere. Elevation comes from a 16-inch Sway-A-Way RaceRunner remote-reservoir coilover shocks. The custom suspension pushes the wheelbase out 14-inches past stock for a 115-inch total. Up front 4-inch Fox air bumps keep the tires out of the hood while out back the tires stop their upward movement only when they hit the sliders at full-flex.

A high-nickel GM V-8 block was bored 0.060-over and given a 3.750-inch crank to make 388ci before getting located in the frame with custom Mike-built mounts. The heart of this Jeep beats a little stronger thanks to an MSD distributor, coil, and 6A control box. An additional alternator provides the juice for the on-board welder and a Griffin aluminum radiator pairs with a Black Magic II fan to keep the engine cool. An SM420 hands power off to an Atlas II transfer case and the clutch action comes from a swapped-in hydraulic linkage.

Downstream, the rear GM 14-bolt was stuffed with 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker. Unlike many 14-bolt swaps, Mike didn't shave his and can still run a stock-shaped cover. Braking comes from some swapped-in disc brakes. Up front the Dana 60 was stuffed with matching 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker, but was upgraded with 35-spline chromoly shafts, Dedenbear inner and outer C's, and a Blue Torch Fab truss.

With so much flex on hand, Mike decided it would be easier to do away with the tie rod and drag link in favor of a full-hydraulic steering setup. A double-ended Howe ram was mounted high up on the axle and is fed by a Howe steering pump and reservoir. The steering pushes the big Super Swamper Iroks mounted on home-modified steel beadlock wheels with only 21/2 inches of backspacing.

Body and Interior
This is not the first body this Jeepster has had on its frame, and it won't be the last. Mike wheels with reckless abandon and often ends up places only buggies should be, which takes a toll on this full-bodied rig. Up front a Warn PowerPlant is hiding behind the license plate and in front of the modified Jeepster grille. The grille is topped with a regular CJ hood that bolts directly in place of the stock unit. The hood is protected by some simple and stout tube fenders. A battery cut-off switch is mounted in the passenger side and allows easy access in case of emergencies.


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