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1973 Jeep J2000 - 2005 Top Truck Challenge

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2005 on November 1, 2005
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Contributors: Ken Brubaker
Photographers: Ken Brubaker

John's J-truck, a.k.a. The Hot Dog
For giggles, we slipped in Jp magazine's tyrant editor John Cappa's 1973 J-2000 on this year's TTC ballot (Apr. 2005). Oddly enough, it was voted in to the Top 10, no doubt helped by a readership assist by the Jp loyalists. John's J-truck is instantly recognizable by the 49-inch IROK tires, ravaged exterior, and chrome Jp stickers. We wonder if anyone ever told John the old 'wheeling adage, "Chrome won't get you home."

John's truck, first used as a cheap truck buildup in Jp, was originally bought for $1,000 and came complete with a U-shaped frame, likely caused by a severe rear-ending, hence the "Hot Dog" moniker. John says a version of his build can be replicated for under $5,000 and a lot of time on your hands (read: no life). The BJ's Off-Road prerunner front bumper is used to mount the Ramsey Patriot 15,000-pound winch.

In order to have the lowest truck possible while running the biggest tires possible, reliably, John yanked out the stock axles and suspension, swapping in 2.5-ton Rockwell axles with Detroit Lockers and USA 6x6 pinion brakes with Wilwood calipers in their place. The stock front springs were eschewed for a set of Skyjacker fullsize Jeep 4-inch lift springs. John completed the swap using a spring-over with M.O.R.E. spring brackets and shackles and a torque rod with Rubicon Express joints. The truck is set up for about 90-percent downtravel, controlled by Rancho 10-inch travel shocks.

Inside the crooked cab, John has retained what he calls "the nasty stock bench." A special ergonomic gearshift knob nearly adds a hint of flair to the T-18 transmission shifter, while a trick dash-mounted holder keeps a can of WD-40 at the ready. John notes some of the gauges even work, some of the time. To the right of the shifter are the twin sticks of the 3.8:1 Atlas II transfer case. John says he has never considered window tint because most of the windows are missing or broken, yet he says he has considered a Xena/goat mural on the roof.

Out back, the same axle setup as the front is used. However the spring-over in the rear utilizes the stock rear springs, which are now mounted directly under the frame.

The Hot Dog isn't the race truck you might expect, with its beat-down AMC 304ci V-8. However, there are some performance doodads bolted on, such as the Edelbrock intake manifold and Holley Pro-Jection 670-cfm fuel-injection system. The engine burps in to Hooker Competition headers, and stumbles on through a home-cobbled exhaust system with Flowmaster 40-series mufflers, which makes it sound way better than it should.


John Cappa/{{{Canyon}}} Country, California
Vehicle model:
1973 Jeep J-2000
What he does when not 'wheeling:
Full-time magazine tyrant editor, part-time ninja exterminator
AMC 304ci V-8/
Edelbrock manifold, Holley Pro-Jection, Hooker headers, D.U.I. coil and distributor, Flowmaster mufflers
Jeep T-18 with 6.32 1st, Advance Adapters main shaft
Transfer case:
Atlas II 3.8
Suspension (f/r):
4-inch Skyjacker spring-overs, M.O.R.E. shackles, torque rod with Rubicon Express joints/stock spring-overs, relocated spring hangers, traction bar
Axles (f/r):
2.5-ton Rockwell, Detroit Locker, USA 6x6 pinion brake with Wilwood caliper/
2.5-ton Rockwell, Detroit Locker, USA 6x6 pinion brake with Wilwood caliper
Axle ratio:
TrailReady 14x14-inch steel with bead locks
49x21-17 Interco IROKs

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