So This is going to hopefully be my first documented build. I have now built 5 jeeps, CJ's and YJ's and decided this one would be different. The end goal of this build is to have a unique daily driver capable, semi aggressive general purpose wheeler.
The base for the build (aka tub) came from a 1948 Willys CJ2a. The original plan was to use the original frame and plate it for reinforcement. That plan went down the toilet quick once I realized modding the stock 48 Frame (even though in great condition) was harder (potentially) than building it from stock. Also I felt like a bunch of the hardcore willys guys would probably flame me pretty hard for chopping up such a good original frame.
The drivetrain was originally planned to be a OM617. The length of that motor turned out to be longer than I wanted so plans changed and craigslist supplied a 2001 gmc 1500 5.3 for $225. I took a gamble, as the owner stated the motor was potentially bad. He was not wrong as the destruction was pretty complete. The harness, ECM, intake accessories etc are all useable so it still was very worth it. Next a trip to the junkyard yielded no 5.3’s but I did get a low mile wrecked 02 4.8.
So after disassembly, cleaning, and gaskets its all ready to go. Note to anyone thinking about building a LS, Gaskets are expensive. REALLY expensive. Oil pan gasket was $50 by itself. $250 for head gasket set (valve seals, intake, valve covers etc) and head bolts are TTY so those are another $100. Also on the head gaskets- there are 2 versions- a 3 piece sandwiched steel and a more standard looked exhaust looking gasket. Spend the money for the sandwiched one. The cheap one is what killed the 5.3. It appears the headgasket blew, overheated the motor and the overheating pressed the seats out of the head.
Disassembly was very satisfying though as the motor is very clean and still has factory cross hatching. The wiring will be the factory harness, I’ll just be modding it for standalone. The 5.3 ecm will be reflashed to 4.8 and tuned.
Transmission will be a 70’s Muncie sm465 simply due to my hatred for autos and my love of old 4 spds. It will most likely be mated to a twin stick dana 20 due to already having 4 or 5 of them on the shelf. Option number 2 will be a scout 300 as my brother has some. Also the 20/scout 300 is the shortest tcase I can get (counting the adapter).
Rear end will be a big bearing Ford 9”. Front end is the only piece I don’t have yet, but my neighbor has some 70’s blazer dana 44’s. Either that or a waggy or scout 44 for the front.
The suspension will be (most likely) a 3 link front and rear using stock TJ coils f/r. The Steering is a little tricky as the early cj’s used ross steering. I would like to use a astro van steering box as that will allow me to mount the box back of the axle allowing for a really short front end for best approach angle. Most likely 2” stretch front 3” rear but I’ll know better when I get to mockup Phase. The frame will be built out of 2x4” square tube. I’m hoping to get started on the frame over thanksgiving weekend… But we’ll see.
Currently I’m planning on leaving the pedals In the factory location (frame mounted) which creates some packaging issues. To circumvent some of that I’m thinking of running a astro hydroboost setup. Hopefully it’ll fit in the narrow frame rails next to the humongous tranny. The biggest issue will definatly be packaging. I’d like to be able to keep the factory length but It will be tight. Worst case scenario will be a 3” stretch and I’ll build my own hood. Once again it’ll have to be determined when I get to mockup.
The last step will be the body work. The floors are pretty much nonexistent which is actually fine as the trans tunnel would have to be way bigger anyway.
The plan for wheels is basic stockish steelies with some 34x9.5 super swampers. I really want the willys skinny tire look. Also a basic cage will be built with frame tie-ins.
That’s the basic start plan I have. I would love some input and suggestions though.