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Unread 11-15-2009, 08:24 PM   #1
Marauder_Pilot
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CJ-3B to M38 front clip conversion-ever been done?

I want to build a replica of the M38 that both looks the part and is safe, efficient and reliable enough to take on long(ish) highway trips.

Anyways, to do this, I plan to start with a CJ-3B. Well, OK, I'll be starting with a mid-'90s Mitsubishi J-54, which, cosmetically, is the same thing:


However, they also come with a small, intercooled turbo diesel instead which, while the Go-Devil is one of the best engines ever, the diesel is just better, having the advantage of not being 60 years old. Plus, I can get them, rust-free, with only a few dozen thousand KM on the clock, for only a few grand more then a pile of rusting CJ or M-series in some farmer's field.

Anyways, essentially what I want to see if it's possible to fit the fenders, hood and grille from a M38 onto a J-54 to make a replica M38 that gets 40 MPG and is safe to drive as far as my lower spine will take.


I know the CJ-3B has the higher hood to accommodate the Hurricane engine, however I don't know if the J-54's diesel has the same dimensions. Off chance, does anybody have a J-54 they can measure to see how much space there is in there? In the meantime, does anybody know, engine height notwithstanding, if it would be possible to swap the fenders and hood?

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Unread 11-15-2009, 08:27 PM   #2
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Should be an interesting build. I don't think we can get the Mitsu jeeps here in the states, all the vehicle laws and such. Bad for us, good for you.

--could be wrong about the legality in the states, have never seen one--
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Unread 11-15-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
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You can import them at 25 years old, no problem. Canada's a bit better, we can get them at 15. But, because Japanese driving laws are awesome (For us, retarded for them), their used car market is a wet dream for us.

They're rare in the USA, and Canada too, because very few people know about them-and, in the import crowd, they're overshadowed in popularity by the old Jeep-style Toyota Land Cruisers, but they're fantastic little rigs-once you get past that annoying little logo on the front and the fact that the wheel's on the wrong side, they're about the purest form of Jeep ever made.
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Unread 11-15-2009, 10:49 PM   #4
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I don't think you can do it. If memory serves, the body is taller in the cowl area to accommodate the taller hood. This would mean the 38 hood wouldn't reach down to the fenders.
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Unread 11-16-2009, 09:27 AM   #5
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J54 to M38?

You are looking at a major project, If you were determined, I do believe it could be done. But I kind of doubt it would be worth the work, but who am I to say. When you are through, it still won't be an M38--

The hoods of the M38 and the J54 are the same width. The angles of the fenders against the grill and the widths are the same. The j54 hood is 5 inches taller. True-- the cowl is also 5" taller to match the hood. You can't see it in the picture above, but the j54 cowl top portion is the same size as the m38. They added a 5" spacer on the left and right sides to raise it up and the junction for that 5" piece is just behind the windshield arm and it does not show in the picture

There is apprx 8" of room between the top of the 4dr5 valve cover the bottom of the hood. -but-- the radiator is too tall, the pedals and master cylinders are up high on the firewall, the air cleaner is up high, etc.

Also- the later J54 (about 1976 and newer) has a few inches longer and wider body from behind the front seats to the rear of the vehicle. The earlier ones have the m38 dimensions.

How about taking the engine / transmission / transfer case from a J54 and putting it into an old flat fender. If the body was too rough or rusted, new bodies can be bought. The drive train would fit right in.
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Unread 11-16-2009, 09:56 AM   #6
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Yeah, I've thought about trying to find a J-54 with a crap body and getting one of the replica bodies from the new Willys Overland.
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Unread 11-16-2009, 10:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepdaddy2000 View Post
If memory serves, the body is taller in the cowl area to accommodate the taller hood. This would mean the 38 hood wouldn't reach down to the fenders.
Exactly. The cowl is much taller.
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Unread 11-16-2009, 11:37 AM   #8
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You could just paint the Mitsu olive drab and call it an M606: Military Jeep Questions on The CJ3B Page
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Unread 11-17-2009, 04:21 AM   #9
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Is the pic of the black J-54 the one you want to modify? If so, and I don't know about the others responding to this thread, but cutting into that particular J-54 would be a crime. That thing is gorgeous!
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Unread 11-17-2009, 10:16 AM   #10
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I agree- the only things sexier than a clean high hood is a tuxedo park CJ6, (and just about any Jeepster Commando)

I wouldn't change a thing, other than those lame front fenders, and the top middle of the grill.



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Unread 11-17-2009, 11:25 AM   #11
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I don't know. I'm not one to stand in the way of anyone's dream, but wouldn't it be easier starting off with an M38 and building it up? There are still plenty for sale. Willys M Jeeps Forums-For Sale
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Unread 11-24-2009, 01:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade86 View Post
Is the pic of the black J-54 the one you want to modify? If so, and I don't know about the others responding to this thread, but cutting into that particular J-54 would be a crime. That thing is gorgeous!
Oh hell no! That's just one I found on Google for an example, it'd be a crime to hack that one up!
If I DO do this, I won't do it unless I can find one with a body that's worth scrapping (And, even still, I'll try and sell as many of the parts as I can, selling good parts for scrap would be like kicking a puppy.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoonHoss View Post
I agree- the only things sexier than a clean high hood is a tuxedo park CJ6, (and just about any Jeepster Commando)

I wouldn't change a thing, other than those lame front fenders, and the top middle of the grill.



Hoss
I'm not saying the J-series Jeeps and CJ-3Bs are bad-looking rigs, not in the slightest. I'd happily drive one-it's just that the one thing I'd love even more is a replica Willys MB that's in good enough shape to drive coast-to-coast. While the old Jeeps were awesome vehicles, no doubt, there's only so much faith I can place in a vehicle that's as old as my grandparents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bren Gun View Post
I don't know. I'm not one to stand in the way of anyone's dream, but wouldn't it be easier starting off with an M38 and building it up? There are still plenty for sale. Willys M Jeeps Forums-For Sale
I have thought about trying to get an M38 and shoehorn more modern parts into it as well-I'll just have to see what the cost of a slightly beater J-54 and a Repli-Tub are versus that of an M38 and all the parts needed to modernize it.

Essentially, what I'm trying to do here is similar to what Ural Motorcycles has done and make a blend of old-school look and ability with modern(ish) parts.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 03:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marauder_Pilot View Post
Oh hell no! That's just one I found on Google for an example, it'd be a crime to hack that one up!
Whew! That's good to hear!
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Unread 11-25-2009, 03:19 AM   #14
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awesome pics....Is the pic of the black J-54 the one you want to modify?car ac compressor
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Unread 11-25-2009, 08:53 AM   #15
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I think your are going to end up with just as many problems adapting the J-54 chassie to the M38 body as building up a M38 from a GPW, MB, 2A, 3A, or M38 chassie. Still will need to change all the steering and brake system; and still figure out how to get the clearence for the engine. The high hoods may not be the most attractive, but they sure have a lot of advantages when you start modifying things.
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