Step By Step
Chassis Adam wanted to keep the truck as low as possible while still managing to fit 39.5-inch tires. He and his dad started with the original 52 Willys truck frame. They boxed it in the crucial areas and mounted pliant stock 1/2-ton Dodge front springs. The rear boingers are the original Willys parts. However, the mounts were moved inboard for axle clearance. A total of about 8 inches of lift was achieved with the Dodge front springs and spring-over in the rear. Its all directed by a full hydraulic steering system. The underside is made smooth and protected by a 1/2-inch-thick skidplate. The wheelbase remains the original 118 inches.
An 89 Chevy 350 with a roller cam and a 1000cfm First Tuned Port fuel injection system spin way into redline. Its backed by a TH350 and a 203/205 double transfer case that Adam and his dad designed and built. Up front sits a 78 Dodge Dana 60 axle. It sports a Lock-Right and 4.10 gears. Out back is a 14-Bolt axle from a 77 Chevy dualie. Its been fitted with 3/4-ton Chevy front discs, 4.10 gears like the front, and a welded diff.
Body & Interior
The not-on-purpose textured paint on Adams Willys is one of the most eye-catching features. Then you realize the bed is shorter than original. To make room for the front tires and monster Pierce winch on the front bumper Adam moved the cab of the truck back about 12 inches and cut that unneeded foot from the bed. The seasonal doors were removed during this run. A full in-cab cage and RCI seats make the interior livable. For a flat underside Adam had to raise the driveline into the cab. The floor was cut out and a new tranny tunnel was built to cover the assembly. In the bed rests a toolbox, a spare driveshaft, and the gas tank from a 78 Chevy truck.
Wheels & Tires
Rock and mud chucking duties are done by 39.5x15x15 Super Swamper TSLs on 15x10 MRT bead lock wheels with 4 inches of backspacing to keep the overall width somewhat narrow. When its wet out Adam slaps on a set of Goodyear 18.1x16.1 tractor tires in the rear. The implement tires are mounted on 16x10 chromies and held in place with bead screws.
Good, Bad, and What It's For
The trails around Adams hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, include damp slick creek beds with rocks that make 38s look small. You can pretty much forget about traction and crawling in the wet season, its all about the thin pedal and momentum. Interestingly, the only parts that stand out are the ones Adam wants to change. The bright-yellow plastic seats didnt turn out to be the hot ticket for bashing around in the rocks. Theyre hard. Adam was originally worried about the weight of the 1/2-inch-thick skidplate but hes found that the protection it offers was worth it. The smooth underside keeps the relatively low Willys from getting hung up on ledges and stumps.
We love clapped out old beaters just as much as super-spendy high-dollar Jeeps. But the best Jeeps are the real sleepers, the kind that look like theyve been at the bottom of a lake for the past 40 years but burn up any trail with amazing ease. Adam Woodlees 52 Willys truck is just one of those Jeeps. At first sight youd expect to find a tired factory driveline begging for mercy while trying to push 39.5-inch tires. Instead you find a rappy Tuned Portinjected and roller-camd Chevy 350 mated to a TH350, dual transfer cases, and 1-ton axles. The paint scheme resembles the barnacles you might find under a ship, and friends joke with Adam about clear-coating the Willys so it doesnt lose its, uh, luster. But as with any sleeper this one sports some sweet mods that you might not catch at first glance. Check out the drool-worthy stuff Adam and his dad Dwight did to the 52.
1952 Willys Truck
Dodge Dana 60 (front)
GM 14-bolt (rear)
39.5 x 15 x 15 Super Swamper TSL
18.1 x 16.1 Goodyear farm implement
Full throttle attacks on Tennessee mud, rocks and waterfalls
What We Think
We want to see more budget homebuilt rigs like this that issue a spankin' when we least expect it.