I left Orange County this morning at 7am and Brubaker picked me up at the Detroit airport at about 5pm. We then took the long term Land Cruiser that Ken is driving back to LA anyway (via TTC), grabbed a trailer at U-Haul and picked up the Willys. Currently I am in a hotel room in Jackson, Michigan and dropping this blog before I go to bed.
It turns out I am the fourth owner of this Jeep. It was once owned by a family member tied to Rancho Suspension (from '59 - '96 as I know it), and then sold to a Jeep executive in October '96, which is who I bought it from. Back in 1997 some of the guys at Jeep , you may know some of the names: Dave Yegge (now at AEV), Jim Repp (still at Jeep), and Jim Frens (owner of Nth Degree) helped to restore it frame off, in two weeks. Since that time it has less than 500 miles on it, but fortunately has lived in a heated garage away from the elements. Knowing this cool little history behind it, I couldn't pass on the chance to own it and keep it in the four wheeling family and community.
After going over the details of the Jeep and the little bits of attention here and there that it will require, I took it on a several mile test drive and let me tell you - it is sweet. Not perfect, but REAL nice. The engine started right up and runs like a top, sounds like a sewing machine and honestly, power was decent. It has a little positive camber on the front axle, so I will need to align it, but didn't ride or handle too bad. Brakes are what you would expect for non-power drums of that vintage.
There are a couple of paint chips that need touching up, the p-brake works, but the ratchet doesn't always hold, the toolbox needs a new seal, and the parking light sockets need to be replaced. Other than that minor stuff, it is a runner and I can't wait to get started on it.
So far I am planning 1-inch lift, 30x9.5 tires, black steelies, winch, Saturn Overdrive, on board air, and a bunch of little things that will modernize the Jeep, make it more reliable, without taking away from the charm that is an old Flattie.
So just like with Project 'Con Artist, it is time to ask for your help in naming the new project. Post a comment to this blog or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post a new blog featuring the best names. If I choose yours, you?ll get a Four Wheeler hat and some stickers.
Hope to hear from you guys (comments on the name, on the project, questions, what you'd like to see, whatever), and I am sure I will post more blogs as our road trip to Top Truck Challenge with the Willys in tow continues!
Tech Editor - Four Wheeler Magazine