Ultimate Adventure 2019 Invited Reader Steven Messer - #UA2019

    Steven Messer likes to think a little bit outside the box when it comes to his vehicle builds. A lifelong car enthusiast in general and a 4x4 enthusiast in particular, his topless 1979 Cherokee Chief is the latest example of his unique approach to building vehicles. Steven is also a big Ultimate Adventure fan, and it has been a longtime goal of his to be one of the lucky few invited readers. It might have been the bright colors, or the classic sheetmetal, or the 42s with very little lift, but all of the stars aligned this year for Steven to get one of the few golden tickets for #UA2019.

    Hailing from Saint Johns, AZ, Steven's fullsize Jeep is a one-of-a-kind. After cutting off the roof and installing a custom rollcage, he installed a GM LD3 crate engine that's good for 525 horsepower right out of the box. A 6L80 transmission sends all of those ponies to an Atlas transfer case and then on to a ball-joint Dana 60 front axle and 14-bolt rear filled with Detroits and 5.38 gears. A set of 42-inch Goodyear MTRs are wrapped around Hutchinson beadlock wheels. But for all of the heavy-duty hardware, there's also quite a bit of simplicity with leaf spring suspension, stand-alone factory wiring for the powertrain, and a fairly basic no-frills interior.

    Steven says he has been 'wheeling since he was a teenager but hasn't done an extended off-road trip like Ultimate Adventure since his days in the Army. He has been gathering parts and planning his Cherokee build for 13 years, and though he has owned a lot of 4x4s, this rig is the most extreme one he has put together. Just barely completed upon submitting his application, he has put a fair amount of on- and off-road miles since making the Dirty Dozen, and there has been a flurry of preparation since making the final cut. Let's hope all of his preparation is rewarded with a trouble-free trip, but you never know what #UA2019 has in store for Steven and the other participants.