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Remodeled Jeep Wrangler: The Landrunner

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 1999
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

At first glance, the new Landrunner resembles a cross between a Hummer and a vintage Jeepster. But in fact, the styling is refreshingly new and unique to many Jeep owners. A few die-hard purists may feel the Hummeresque facelift is out of place, but the functionality of the fiberglass front clip, running boards, and rear fenders make this Jeep truly one of a kind.

Designer Chris Duncan has been in the vehicle remodeling business for some time, creating specialty vehicles out of standard stock. The famous Hummbug, a VW bug chassis with a fiberglass Hummer-looking body, was a hit in many areas-so much so, that knock-off replicas are seen worldwide.

For the Landrunner, Chris envisioned a wider-stance Jeep with full flares to protect the body and with enough steel around to make it even safer than stock. Starting with a bone-stock Jeep Wrangler TJ, Chris developed bodywork that replaced the hood, grille, and fenders with a one-piece unit that was hinged on the front and incredibly strong. The inner fenderwells are retained to protect the engine, and a front brushguard keeps the new clip away from trees and debris. Even the rear flares are strong enough to stand on, and nerf bars on the frame protect the side running boards.

If all that wasn't enough, the top rack enclosure is mounted securely to the frame and windshield frame, increasing the strength and rigidity of the enclosure. While making a great place to pile all kinds of gear and being the perfect lightbar mount, the factory hardtop can still be installed and removed without any problems.

Though not for everybody, the Landrunner will undoubtedly be a hit and seen on more trails than not. We even had a chance to do some testing through the dunes, rocks, boulders, and beaches of our secret test facility in Mexico. Since the base vehicle for the Landrunner was a Wrangler, the running gear and suspension held up superbly. The modified areas seemed natural, with the big flares keeping the salt spray and sand off the body and out of our eyes.

Chris prefers to modify a new TJ but will consider older YJ Wranglers such as the one we tested on this go round. A complete list of prices and options can be obtained by contacting the company at Landrunner, Dept. Jp, 11724 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90025, 310/820-3447.

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