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1956 Jeep CJ-5: Project Ground-Up

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2012
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Praised be! The end is near! Maybe. As you Jeep nuts know, any Jeep project is never really “done.” Though it’s hard to believe, the initial retrotastic build-up of Project Ground-Up is nearing an end. We’re sure there will be a few more modifications and additions to this crazy old ’56 CJ-5 once we get some miles on the reborn rig. Yeah, it took us a while, especially for a magazine build, and successful completion was not always easy to see. It’s getting harder to remember the day we first saw the old Jeep’s body sitting in the dirt behind a welding shop. It wasn’t always peaches and cream. There were occasionally muffled threats of “You’ll Get Parted OUT!!!” or “I Will Kill You, You Mutha” coming from our hot Arizona-based two-car garage, but it seems like we are actually gonna get to drive it. We built it pretty much single-handedly with some much-needed help from our friends—thanks Trent, Doug, James, Erin, and Mike! It feels great! We spent lots of time, blood, sweat and maybe a tear or two on the old girl. We are still not really sure what we are going end up doing with Ground-Up.

For sure we’ll drive it and wheel it for a while. Maybe we can set it up as a backcountry expedition rig (if you can do that with a CJ-5). Maybe we’ll toss the four-cylinder and drop in a 500hp V-8, 40s, and one-ton axles. Maybe we’ll sell the old girl, passing it on once again to new owners who can enjoy its retro style, drivability, and reliability. Hmm…then we could use the sales funds to build a JK into a non-directional tire’d, fuel-injected, L-head-powered, retro version of a non-standardized jeep complete with a slat grille. Or build a Willys pickup-based Southern-style cab truck for the Arizona deserts. Or a Project Hack n’ Cut Liberty rockcrawler. Who knows? For now, follow along as we tighten the final screws on the green ’56 CJ-5 known as Ground-Up, and hopefully take her for a brief neighborhood test drive. Next time we’ll put her tires in the dirt and give you some wheeling and road driving impressions of this crazy build that started with an unwanted old body, some rectangular tube, and an idea.

The four-cylinder XJ high-pressure power steering line from our donor vehicle was a bit too short to reach our old XJ steering box in its new location in front of the grille. A quick trip to the local parts store yielded this four-cylinder TJ high-pressure line that was just long enough.
PhotosView Slideshow

A Few Odds and Ends
Here are some more odds and ends from Quadratec that we used for the build.

PN 55210.03: OEM headlamp dimmer switch for ’46-’71 CJ

PN 13004.02: Rugged Ridge hood latch set in black for ’42-’95 CJ/Wrangler

PN 14247.0201: Two rear metal push-button tow point non-retractable lap belts for ’76-’91 Jeep

PN 14247.06012: Two front metal push-button three-point retractable seatbelts for ’82-’91 Jeep


MagnaFlow Performance Exhaust
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
West Chester, PA 19380
Phoenix, AZ 85050

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