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!