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'69 Jeepster Commando

Front Driver Side
John Cappa | Writer
Posted July 1, 1999
Photographers: Cole Quinnell

Built to Storm the Southwest

Step By Step

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  • The front axle is also a 44. It houses an ARB Air Locker, Moser shafts, and 3.73 gears. Ford 1/2-ton hubs and rotors along with Chevy calipers complete the front axle. Articulation is provided by Alcan Spring 4-inch lift front and rear leaf-spring packs. The movement is controlled by Warn Black Diamond AT shocks.

  • The rear quarter-panel guard is made from diamond-plate aluminum. Holes were cut for the fuel filler and the exhaust, which exits through the lower part of the panel to avoid trail debris. The rear wheel openings were enlarged to accommodate Wrangler fender flares, and a 2-inch body lift was needed to fit the 35x14.50 Super Swamper SSR radials mounted on American Racing 15x10 chrome wheels. Also visible is the owner-built rear bumper.

  • On-board air is provided by a converted air conditioning compressor. The compressor, a Harrison radial type, is relatively compact compared to other units available. Air supply for the locker is provided by the compressor, and is engaged by an Eaton-Fuller range valve located on the transfer-case lever.

  • When the Commando can no longer attack the rocks, the Warn 8000i is just the reinforcement needed to keep pushing or pulling forward. In case of retreat, the winch can be moved to the rear receiver thanks to the owner-modified Warn multi-mount.

It may not have served in the military, but this 1969 Jeepster Commando was built to storm the southwest. Purchased in 1980, the Jeepster was stock and badly wrecked before owners Lyle and Leona Schrader began to arm it for trail service. The Schraders teach at an automotive technology school in Colorado, so they have a good idea about what kinds of modifications are needed for trail duty. The original components weren’t up for the four-wheeling missions the Schraders had planned. Lockers, a more compliant suspension, larger tires, and more power were some of the preparations needed for assaults on the heavily armed, rocky terrain. Lyle designed and built the rollcage, nerf bars, and rear bumper to protect the Jeepster and its occupants from surprise attacks from the rocks. The bobbed front fenders as well as the rest of the Jeepster are sprayed with 1988 Chevy-pickup medium red. Durabek is applied to the interior.

The Commando gives the Schraders more room in the back than a standard CJ, so toting extra trail gear isn’t a problem. And the extra wheelbase helps to make short work of inclines. Check out this Jeepster’s arsenal.