OT: Retro Wrangler/Willys Pickup (long)

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#1
OT... Some of you may recall about six months ago I posted my ideas for a retro-Willys pickup project based on a TJ Wrangler. I posted some design ideas and concept drawings and got a lot of great input from people on the board, so I thought I'd post an update for more input from you all.

The concept is to build a retro-looking stepside pickup using a TJ as a base and the bed of a 47-64 Willys pickup truck. I've always loved the look of the old Willys but I'd rather have something more modern and comfortable than that for a daily driver. Some of the inspirations for the design of this project include:



After doing some months of design and research, here's what I'm planning:

Base vehicle will be a 2006 LJ Wrangler Unlimited. I've traded my 2000 TJ on a 2006 LJ so I now have the vehicle to start with.

The LJ frame will be lengthened 24” to result in a 128” wheelbase. Originally I thought that might look too long, but it results in a vehicle with basically the same wheelbase as an extended cab Ranger or S-10 and an overall length just a few inches shorter than either of those, so it will be perfect. Also, at that length wheelbase I can use the full length of the Willys bed, and get the spare on the side of the bed just like on the old Willys.

Extending the frame: originally I thought I would use the AEV Brute frame extension kit, but I discovered that you can cut two LJ frames in different places and join them together with only one joint and get the right wheelbase for this project. I recently bought a used LJ frame that is bent in the front, so I've got the extra frame rear half I need for this. In a nice stroke of luck, when you cut and splice the frames like this, the resulting extra set of body mounts is perfectly positioned to be the front mount for the bed. Another nice side benefit of doing the frame this way is that the tub does not have to come off the frame. With the Brute frame extension kit, because of where the cuts and welds fall, the tub must come off. I have design drawings of the lengthened frame I could post if anyone's interested.

I was thinking of using a reproduction Willys bed because it will be impossible to find a used one in nice enough condition for what I want, but I have discovered that the 46 Chevy had an almost identical size bed and you can buy much higher quality 46 Chevy repros than you can for the Willys, plus there is afttermarket support like custom bed wood and parts for the Chevy. So I'll use a Chevy bed from www.mark-k.com and nobody but a true Willys aficionado will ever know it isn't a Willys bed. Also I'll be able to use nice custom bed wood instead of a steel bed floor.

The Mar-K bed comes with a “blank” tailgate; I'll cut the center “Jeep” stamping from the CJ8 tailgate left over from my Overlander project and weld it in for a factory-look logo tailgate.

The tub will be shortened using the AEV Brute cab closeout kit. They've done a really nice job on a new rear section for the tub, and they sell it as a separate unit, and I can't do any better than they've done. This also gives me the option of using the Brute hardtop (which I don't plan to do, but more on the hardtop below).

The initial build will have a soft top to save time because the hardtop will be somewhat complex to fabricate. I have figured out how with minimal effort to reconfigure the LJ soft top into a half-cab. A little rework of the bows and some cutting and sewing by a boat top place and I'll end up with a factory-looking soft top.

Rear fenders. Still a little bit of a challenge, but I've decided I'll need to fabricate my own. I've got a preliminary design done. They will be very similar to the Willys fenders, but will be shaped like the TJ flares to be be consistent with both the Willys inspiration and the TJ design. I won't use flares on the rear fenders because the Willys didn't have flares, but it will be possible to bolt on TJ flares to these fenders in the future should I ever have a reason to. I'll probably fabricate the fenders this winter before the main project starts

So here's the soft-top concept drawing:



The second phase of the build will be the removable hardtop. As I said before, I could use the Brute hardtop, but I'd rather have something in steel. I plan to build a custom top using parts from somewhat rare Jeep hardtops from the 80's – the rear panel of the top will be from a CJ-10a military tug, and the top panel will be from a CJ-7 World Cab. I originally thought I'd use the CJ-10a top panel but I really like the rake of the CJ-7 WC top panel, and it is one less seam to shorten that than it would be to lengthen the CJ-10a top panel. The CJ-10a rear panel sides will have to be lengthened because the tub resulting from using the Brute tub kit is longer than the CJ-10a cab, so the fabrication won't be trivial but it is very doable. I also have a method for attaching the front of the top to the TJ's windshield hardtop mount points and I plan to fab up brackets in the rear of the cab and use TJ hardtop latches so the top can be removable with only latches and no screws. Here's some photos of the source parts and a concept drawing with the top:



So now I've got most of the critical components – LJ Wrangler, extra frame, CJ-7 World Cab hardtop, CJ-10a hardtop, and I know where to source pretty much everything else, like the pickup bed.

Things I'm still working on:

I think the LJ springs are much softer than my old TJ's springs and I'm wondering if they're up to supporting the length of the longer wheelbase and loads a pickup might carry. I plan on installing an Air-Lift air bag kit inside the read springs, but I think I might need stiffer springs, at least for the rear. Any thoughts?

Might need to add an additional crossmember in the frame due to the length; probably will decide that as I'm building.

Need to find a nice tonneau cover that fits a 46 Chevy pickup bed. Haven't found one yet, any ideas?

I welcome your feedback on these questions and anything else about this project; as I said before your feedback from my last series of posts was very helpful in making some design decisions. Please don't post any feedback about me cutting up the CJ-7 World Cab top, we've had that discussion already :-)

Oh and please don't quote this entire post in your replies, I know this is probably too long but if everyone quotes the whole thing it will be too long for anyone to read.

Finally, when will I start cutting metal? Sometime in the first quarter of next year I expect to have an empty 3-car garage, so I won't start until then. Until then I'm acquiring the parts I need and locking down the design.

Thanks for your input.

Jeff
 
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ben8jamin

SOA Member & PROUD of it!
City
St. Simons Island
State
GA
#2
:bow: :bow: :bow:

Jeff, that's awesome. My buddy and I were just talking about your 8 last night and I was telling him your plans of making a pick-up style jeep similar to the brute. I can't wait to see that thing come into fruition. It sounds like you definitely lucked out with the LJ lengthening too. Good luck.
 

matnic

Scrambler-in-Progress
City
Rapid City
State
MI
#4
Can't wait for the build!! Looks like a wonderful idea.

Any thoughts on a rollbar? (sorry if you mentioned a rollbar, but I didn't read the whole thing word for word. :D )
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#5
matnic said:
Can't wait for the build!! Looks like a wonderful idea.

Any thoughts on a rollbar? (sorry if you mentioned a rollbar, but I didn't read the whole thing word for word. :D )
I will cut the stock rollbar in the same way as the Brute - which means removing the rear bars but leaving the main hoop and the bars that connect to the windshield intact. I figure it that's good enough for the Brute it is fine for me.
 

Randyzzz

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
SOA Member
City
Redmond
State
OR
#7
Wow...that is nothing short of awesome! I can't wait to see the buildup.

As far as Tonneau covers, I'll see what I can find. I go to alot of car shows during the summer, I'll ask when I see one.
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#8
Grantshire said:
Looks cool and will be a great project. :cheers: Check out this link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/e...STRK:MEWA:IT&viewitem=&item=230196709457&rd=1

May be a bed source for the project (re-sell the rest).:christmas

:) I'm starting with a 2006 Unlimited with 12,000 miles on it... the quality of all parts has to match a two-year old low mileage vehicle so I definitely need to put a new bed on this one, not something old I have to restore. But thanks for the link, now that one's a real project!
 
Last edited:
City
Grand Rapids
State
MI
#9
jscherb said:
I think the LJ springs are much softer than my old TJ's springs and I'm wondering if they're up to supporting the length of the longer wheelbase and loads a pickup might carry. I plan on installing an Air-Lift air bag kit inside the read springs, but I think I might need stiffer springs, at least for the rear. Any thoughts?
Jeff - I believe the LJ springs are the higher spring-rate springs that are also used in Rubicons. You may have to go with custom-rate rear springs, or switch to rear leaves (which is what the prototype/military Jeep "trucks" have done in the rear). As usual...impressive work! :cool:

Craig
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#10
1x1_Speed_Craig said:
Jeff - I believe the LJ springs are the higher spring-rate springs that are also used in Rubicons. You may have to go with custom-rate rear springs, or switch to rear leaves (which is what the prototype/military Jeep "trucks" have done in the rear). As usual...impressive work! :cool:

Craig
Ugh, I really don't want to have to be doing custom suspensions on this project. I'm thinking some Air-Lift in-spring type air bags; they can be filled to low pressure for normal driving and higher pressure for loads in the bed. Unless I find a better solution, I'm thinking I'll do that and see how it turns out. Once the truck is done and I can see how that performs, I can decide if more customization is required.

But I'm really open to ideas on this one, I'm pretty sure just the stock LJ springs aren't going to cut it for the rear.
 

doslocos

Basic User
City
Dolores
State
co
#11
I have firestone air bag overloads on my duramax. They work great, really handle a load. Just air them up until it sits level.They handle a heavy load, alot more than your going to put your soon to be awesome jeep pickup. I think you could probably modify some of these to work in conjuntion with the coils and maybe skip the bags inside the coils. Just throwing out ideas.

Steve
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#12
doslocos said:
I have firestone air bag overloads on my duramax. They work great, really handle a load. Just air them up until it sits level.They handle a heavy load, alot more than your going to put your soon to be awesome jeep pickup. I think you could probably modify some of these to work in conjuntion with the coils and maybe skip the bags inside the coils. Just throwing out ideas.

Steve
Steve,
Thanks, I'll check out the Firestone products. I've been looking at Air-Lift ones, haven't checked the others yet. The Firestones sound great.
Jeff
 

shawnboy

Basic User
City
western
State
ma
#15
easy

cheaper, easier and simpler than most other helper systems that I have seen or used. Basically big soft squishy bumpstops that work great and add no weight

I've only used them on trucks with leafs springs inplace of add-a-leafs, as it doesn't add any height or change the ride of the truck, they just don't let it sag when the bed is loaded.

Haven't seen any applications for jeeps, but have never looked either.

Your concept sounds and so far looks awesome, best of luck.

Post pictures of it in progress
 
City
White Rock
State
NM
#16
I,too, can't wait for the build up. I buddy is doing a willys truck frame up on a scoutII frame and axles with a 4.3 v6. There is another in town that is semi well done but they extended to cab poorly, abou a foot with no windows and some wave and wrinkle.

One suggestion on the top, might find an old stel cj5 hard top and cut it down, they are dirt cheap and depending where you get it from may be rust free. You'll have to massage the metal to fit the windshield but that shouldn't be hard. Alternatively you could find an M38A1 arctic top, they have a similar shilouette as your drawings and are built in aluminum. you would need to massage them as well so that could be an issue if you don't weld alum

One other idea, you might want to use a rockhard or similar in cab cage vice cutting down the LJ bar. I think it's be much more protective and stiffen the tub more

keep us posted !!
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#18
doslocos said:
Check this one out on ebay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Jeep...oryZ6285QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

It's not nearly as thought out as your plan, but the bed is nice.
I was just looking at this when your message came in. It scares me, actually, I think it looks a bit awkward. Uh oh, this might give me second thoughts about doing mine!

The bed on this one is lower and wider than what I'm planning, and the full hardtop rear window/liftgate is a bit odd, so maybe that's what's putting me off.

I think I'll ask him for some of the dimensions to compare to my plan.

Jeff
 

jscherb

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Elmira
State
NY
#19
Ok, I did a rendering of what I think that one looks like next to my design. Do you think I got the look of the eBay one right?



EDIT: Adjusted drawing due to Craig's comments below.
 
Last edited:
City
Grand Rapids
State
MI
#20
Nice idea, but awkward execution. Jeff - The cab on your drawing looks just a little short compared to the one on eBay. Also, the eBay one has some serious a$$-drag with the low towing hitch setup in the rear. That hurts the aesthetics, also.

Craig


 
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