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Project Ground-Up: Part 7

Posted in Project Vehicles on November 4, 2012
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Ah, yes! It’s done—that is until we start working on it again or decide something we did is just not good enough. About two and a half years ago we saw and then bought what was little more than a pile of patina’d green Willys sheetmetal. It was parts of a classic ’56 CJ-5 with plenty of stress cracks in the tub, lots of missing parts, a little rust, a title, and some history. Sure, we did not work on the ’56 for all of that time. The project languished for more months than we care to count as everyday life passed us by. That makes reaching the end all the sweeter. Now we have a fully functional custom Jeep to cruise the back roads and maybe occasionally hit a trail or two. The Ground-Up build has been a blast, filled with fun, hard work, frustration, and finally a great sense of relief and accomplishment. The finished product looks retro, starts right up, and buzzes (or rattles) down the road like a dream.

We recently put the finishing touches on Ground-Up with a little more help from our friends at Quadratec. We also finally got the CJ-5 registered, plated, and insured, so now she is all legal-like! Then we hit the highway and drove it out to one of our local wheeling areas to get some dirt under the tires. The odd little Willys worked pretty well despite a couple of hiccups. Hey man, we are human too and we are certainly not perfect…no matter how awesome we think we are. We are pretty darn happy with the final product. It matches what we had envisioned those two and a half years ago. Are we done with the CJ-5? Not really. As we write this we are planning more adventures with this new retro ride, which will be covered in future pages of Jp.

On-road the old Jeep runs basically just as you might expect…like a 56-year-old Jeep with a multi-port four-cylinder, 33s, 4:10 axle gears, and a five-speed tranny. There are lots of rattles and creaks from the sheetmetal, but she goes. Toward the end of our shakedown run the little Jeep pitched a bit of fluid after a pretty steep highway grade with a 105-degree ambient air temp, but the gauge never spiked. We think the radiator cap was not on all the way or maybe the system was overfilled and the old Jeep was just finding its level. Time and driving in the Arizona deserts will tell. A little lower gearing would be nice one day.
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