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Capable Custom Chassis

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2000
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p170610 large+1951 Jeep CJ 3A+Driver Side
Under the hood rests a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine out of a Ford Ranger. It is fed by an Electro Motive Tec II fuel injection system that can handle up to 14 pounds of boost supplied by the Garret turbocharger. Under the hood rests a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine out of a Ford Ranger. It is fed by an Electro Motive Tec II fuel injection system that can handle up to 14 pounds of boost supplied by the Garret turbocharger.
The interior is Spartan but functional. Auto Meter gauges monitor vital functions, while Corbeau seats keep the occupants comfy. The interior is Spartan but functional. Auto Meter gauges monitor vital functions, while Corbeau seats keep the occupants comfy.
A Dana 44 equipped with an ARB Air Locker and 5.38 gears handles front axle duties. A spring-over was performed using custom springs to net some extra lift and flex. A Dana 44 equipped with an ARB Air Locker and 5.38 gears handles front axle duties. A spring-over was performed using custom springs to net some extra lift and flex.
Quarter-elliptical springs were used out back to provide lots of flex. A four-link secures the axle in place, while Fox shocks handle damping duties. Quarter-elliptical springs were used out back to provide lots of flex. A four-link secures the axle in place, while Fox shocks handle damping duties.
Out back rests another Dana 44, equipped with 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker. Wilwood calipers and rotors stop the Jeep in a hurry. Out back rests another Dana 44, equipped with 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker. Wilwood calipers and rotors stop the Jeep in a hurry.
The flexible suspension just barely allows enough room for 33-inch Boggers mated to 15x10 M.R.T. bead locks. The flexible suspension just barely allows enough room for 33-inch Boggers mated to 15x10 M.R.T. bead locks.

Everyone in Arizona must grow up with a tube bender in one hand and a welder in the other. On all our trail trips to the land of the sun it seems as though we stumble across at least one super-trick, tube-frame creation. Maybe it is the heat that makes Arizonans toss out their frames, fire up the welders, and start fabricating.

During our last trek, we stumbled across Eddie Matthews of Gold Canyon, Arizona, and his frameless creation. Eddie started the buildup by making his own tubular chassis. After many hours of labor the skeleton of his trail rig was done. Eddie then went about stuffing it with the right equipment. First on the list were axles. The front Dana 44 was found residing in a junked ’80 Blazer. It was yanked from its resting place, stuffed with 5.38 gears and an ARB Air Locker, and then put in position up front. In the rear, a Dana 44 center section was used and equipped with 5.38 gears and a Detroit Locker. Eddie then made his own axletubes out of 0.375-inch-wall-thick DOM tubing, and used a Warn Full-Floater kit to complete the rear axle.

Next to get figured out was the suspension. Custom leaf springs were used up front and placed on top of the axle to net some extra lift. Two-inch-bodied Fox shocks were then used to handle dampening duties. Out back, custom-made quarter-elliptical springs attach to the axle, which is held in place with a four-link with rod ends. An identical set of Fox shocks was also used in the rear. This flexy arrangement supplies enough clearance for Eddie to run 33x14.50-15 Boggers mated to 15x10 M.R.T. bead lock wheels.

Things get even more interesting when it comes to the powerplant. Instead of doing the standard V-8 swap, Eddie grafted a 2.5L four-cylinder out of a Ford Ranger in between the framerails. Feeding fuel to the four-banger is an Electro Motive Tec II fuel injection system. Other unique features include the 14 pounds of boost supplied by a Garret turbocharger. This setup helps to keep the flatfender light and supplies plenty of power at the same time. A custom Ron Davis radiator was used to keep it running cool in the hot Arizona desert.

A Ford C4 automatic transmission was then mated to the four-cylinder motor. A full-manual, reverse-pattern valvebody and V-8 internals were used to add beef, while a B&M shifter takes it through the gears. The tranny mates to the venerable Spicer 18 transfer case that handles splitting the power.

Eddie then skinned the skeleton with metal from a ’51 CJ-3A. The hood was lengthened, the rear fenders were heavily cut, and aluminum floors were made for the tub. Corbeau seats were then bolted to the chassis to give occupants a place to sit, and four-point harnesses were used to keep them there. An Eagle GPS unit also found its way into the cockpit, and an Alpine stereo and six-disc CD changer keep the occupants entertained. With his rig complete, Eddie can enjoy the results of his labor and spend his time ’wheeling the hardcore trails of Arizona, instead of wrenching on the weekends. That is, until the next project comes along!

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