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Ultimate Adventure 2015 - Summer Camp Jeep Buildup

Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2015 on June 21, 2015
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Photographers: Jim Allen

Ultimate Adventure 2015 is right around the corner, and we are excited about this year’s official project vehicle. We had a plethora of project ideas in the works but realized we had to pick just one—and one that we could hopefully get done fast! We approached the guys at Synergy Manufacturing to see if they wanted to build this year’s rig, and they were happy to oblige. That left just one major question: What were we building?

In the 1940s there was a need for a military jeep that was larger than the normal flatfender MBs, so Willys developed the MLW2, which stood for Military Long Wheel version 2. The jeep was taller than stock and longer while clearing a 36-inch-tall tire. We love the looks of this and are planning something similar, which we’ll call our MLW3B for Militaryish-looking Longer Wheelbase version 3b.

The UA is our annual weeklong off road trip where we travel to a new part of the country and go wheeling at a variety of locations. We cover about 1,000 miles of dirt and asphalt. It’s like a mobile summer camp road trip, so we decided to build the Ultimate Summer Camp vehicle.

Over the years we have learned a few things we really like for the UA, things that work great and make the trip fun. One of those is the open top rule. It’s not really a rule, but we have found that an open top or convertible 4x4 is a lot of fun on a hot dirty trip like UA. You get dirty and wet, but you also get to live out in the elements and experience every noise and vibration your 4x4 makes. You also need enough room for two people and their gear. We’ve built small vehicles in the past, so we know that a lack of storage isn’t fun for camping gear, tools, and food (a giant cooler) on a weeklong adventure. And finally, you need all the capability as well as highway performance so you can cruise and wheel without too much worry.

Soon we had the drawing stretched out to 108-inch wheelbase with a larger door opening, larger B-pillar segment between the door and rear wheelwell, and a larger rear wheel opening that is more squared off, similar to the MLW2 design. Also, the front fenders are stretched up to use a standard flatfender-height hood, not the tall 3B hood, and then the rear fenders are brought up as well to give even more wheel travel. Basically we took a flattie design and smooshed and pulled it until it would fit a longer drivetrain, larger tires, and enough camping gear for two dirt-heads on the Ultimate Adventure for a week.

While searching for the next project we came back to a jeep, but we had already built a CJ-7 and at least two JKs. We really wanted to build a flatfender Willys, but they are so small. And then we came across a special military jeep that had big tires and a larger body. It was a prototype and never made production, but we decided to build our own, and that was the start of this year’s Ultimate Summer Camp Jeep.

What We Did in the Tub
-24-inch tub stretch from stock (dash to tailgate).
-8-inch longer door opening past the bend.
-6-inches behind the “factory” axle position.
-10 inches at the B-pillar.
-4-inch-longer hood.
-Regular CJ2a/3a height hood.
-Jeep MB grille and windshield.
-Rear floor step raised about 7 inches tall vs. approx. 4 inches stock.
-Wheel tubs raised to the top of the body line.
-Rear floor widened to 41 inches from stock 32 inches.

Aqualu builds the best replacement Jeep bodies in the world. These are all aluminum, built to spec, and tougher than any factory steel Jeep body. They are light but not light-duty since they are made of 4mm (0.156-inch) aluminum and are designed to bounce off trail obstacles—and we’ve seen them do just that. Our Summer Camp Jeep has rear fenders that are flush with the top of the tub for maximum rear tire travel, and the bed was opened to fit a 40-inch spare (or a giant cooler!) just in case we ever want to put fo-tees on it (the build plan is revolving around the new 38-inch Falken M/T tire).
PhotosView Slideshow


Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
Offroad Design
Eastwood Company
Pottstown, PA 19464
Hi-Lift Jack Company
Bloomfield, IN 47424
Spidertrax Off-Road
Longmont, CO 80503
Kelowna, AK
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
Synergy Manufacturing
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
BDS Suspension
VooDoo Off-Road
Power Products Unlimited Inc.

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