Rick Prater is the Returning Reader for Ultimate Adventure 2019 - #UA2019Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2019 on August 17, 2019
There's nothing better than classic sheetmetal to get our attention, and when we first spied Rick Prater's application for the 2018 Ultimate Adventure, it immediately went to the top of the stack. His 1951 Willys wagon oozes cool, from the perfectly preserved patina to the anvil-simple and reliable Chevy drivetrain. Rick ended up making the cut and joined us on our New England tour for UA2018 along with a crop of other readers from all over the country. Rick brought along his father-in-law Todd Daines as co-driver, and the duo fit in with the group right from the start. They 'wheeled hard, had all the spares and the know-how to fix stuff when it broke, were quick to lend a helping hand, and were a lot of fun to be around. That's exactly the kind of stuff that gets you invited back on an Ultimate Adventure.
Rick has built several Jeeps in the past, including a stretched CJ-7 and a flatfender, and he applied a lot of what he learned from previous builds to the Willys. Powered by a TBI 350, the Willys uses an SM465 transmission and an NP205 to send power to a 14-bolt rear axle and 10-bolt front filled with 4.10 gears and lockers. The 37-inch Falkens proved to be a bit too much for the 10-bolt and Rick snapped an axleshaft on the first obstacle on the first day of last year's trip. He repaired it quickly with a spare 'shaft but we'd be willing to bet he has beefed the axle up further in anticipation for this year. Though the Wagon seems pretty finished we also know that no 4x4 is ever really done, so we look forward to seeing what else Rick has added to the Wagon the second time around for #UA2019.