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1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ - Big Mini: Part 1

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 20, 2013
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The original idea was so simple it makes an anvil seem complicated. Where we ended up wasn’t quite as simple as we’d originally planned.

Trasborg had a ’94 four-cylinder-powered Wrangler with a blown up transmission and some other issues that he’d bought for a song back in 2002. He got back on the road and has driven it ever since. He crossed the country with it in 2005 to take a job at Jp, and he kept right on driving it. Over the years, it got a new engine, fresh transmission, rebuilt T-case, new axles, new seats, and essentially new everything else. It never did grow to be as big as the other Jeeps, running only 31-inch tires for most of its life. It was called “Mini” or “Mini-me.”

Except for the beat and rusted frame and body that survived a decade of northeast winters and around 350,000 miles, it was a solid Jeep. So when a wrecked YJ with a nice Southern California rust-free body and frame came around for nothing, Trasborg jumped on it, sold all the extra parts off it for a profit, and ended up with a clean (and free) body and frame for his tried-and-true Wrangler.

The wrecked Jeep that was eventually to become its own project: a four-cylinder, with bent parts, including the frame, hood, fenders, windshield frame, leaf springs, and more.

The swap should have taken a weekend, but there just wasn’t a free weekend to be had. And then, as so often happens, we started down the “What if?” road. “Is it possible to put a TJ top on a YJ?”, “Can we fit 40s on a Jeep with no lift?”, and the ever popular, “If we swap an LT-1 out of a cop car into our Jeep in the office parking lot, will the building management mind?”. There were other minor questions along the way, but these three ended up turning a “simple” body and frame swap into an almost-complete second Jeep.

It took us about two years to solve the big three, and after that we had a Jeep with no real plan in mind but knew our original plan wasn’t going to work anymore. We now had two Jeeps where there should have been one. One was running and driving still, and one had most of the major parts to be running and driving. What to do, what to do? Well, we had Mini, now on 30-inch tires, and after a weekend paint job, the other Jeep looked nearly identical but sitting on 40-inch tires. Big Mini was born.

And sat. And watched the world go by.

It was never an official project, so Trasborg tinkered on it here and there, but with no direction, no goal, and other running and driving Jeeps needing lovin’, it sat. Well, it’s sat for long enough. It’s time to put this beast out on the trail, whatever it takes. We are going to try to keep it simple, use as many parts as we already have, and still run with the big dogs. But before we go forward with our month-to-month build, let’s take a look back at where this thing has been over the years.

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