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1952 Willys Wagon: Utility Camper

Front Passenger Side Shot
Pete Trasborg
| Brand Manager, Jp
Posted November 1, 2010

Practical Wagon

We see a lot of cool Jeeps over the course of a year and that is awesome. The problem is, most of the Jeeps we see and shoot are freshly put together, and never really lived-in for any length of time. This Willys Wagon is the exact opposite of that. Eric Frost put it together over the course of five years and thousands of hours to not only take wheeling, but also to take camping and tow his travel trailer and race car trailer.

When we heard the rumble of the V-8 cruise past and saw the cool body armor that didn't change the nostalgic look of the Jeep, our interest was piqued. When Eric told us that not only has he been wheeling all over with the Jeep, but drives it and tows with it, we wanted to know more.

The stock Willys frame was tossed and a '77 Wagoneer frame was swapped in its place for more strength. The frame was chopped behind the rear shackle mounts to better fit the Willys body. Then the body mounts on the frame were modified to work with the stock Willys mounts. The engine and transmission crossmember mounts are home-built units and the wheelbase worked out to 108-inches.

Total lift height comes in at right around 4 inches thanks to a pair of Skyjacker Softride lift springs in the front controlled by Rancho shocks. Out back some bastard leaf packs consisting of re-arched Wagoneer springs and a few Skyjacker Softride leafs are controlled by Monroe air shocks. The air shocks help level the Jeep out when towing loads with a heavy tongue weight.

It all starts off with a '71 351 Cleveland that was partially blueprinted and balanced to within 1/2-gram of tolerance. Inside, the connecting rods are stock, but the Keith Black hypereutectic pistons and Perfect Seal gapless rings certainly aren't. The main caps run studs rather than bolts and the rods were shot-peened. Comp Cams provided the cam with 0.554-inches of lift and a 221/221 @ 0.050 duration that pushes on aluminum rocker arms. The stainless steel valves (2.19-inch intake, 1.71-inch exhaust) were polished as were the combustion chambers, intake, and exhaust ports. An older Holley Pro-Jection two-barrel throttle-body sits atop an Edlebrock Performer intake manifold and breathes through a custom dual-intake cold-air setup. A capacitive discharge Crane ignition with a rev limiter lights things off. The combustion ratio comes in at 9.3:1 and the spent gasses are sent downstream via some owner-built headers, 21/2-inch exhaust, and Dynomax mufflers.

An NV4500 is bolted to a modified aluminum Ford bellhousing. Power is passed on to an NP208 taken from an '88 GMC Jimmy that was rotated up about 20-degrees for better ground clearance. From there, driveshafts sporting 1330 U-joints send the power out to the axles. The front axle is a Wagoneer Dana 44 with 4.56 gears and a Lock-Right with Alloy 4340 axleshafts. While the Ford 9-inch out back from a 60's-era pickup has a Detroit Locker hiding in the third member and between the 31-spline axleshafts. The front axle retained the Wagoneer discs but got larger calipers from a heavy-duty Chevy Suburban while the rear got the Wagoneer drums. The master cylinder was sourced from an '84 Jeep Cherokee.

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