Currie Enterprises Fire Ant TJ
"Whatcha Lookin' At" March
The Currie's Fire Ant TJ is one bad mofo. Where do we even begin to tell you about this thing? Start it up and you'll instantly fall in love with the smooth sweet sound of the 4.7L cammer motor that gives this ant its fire. Pop the Grand Cherokee five-speed automatic transmission into First, and shift the Atlas into low range and you're half way to the ARCA rockcrawling championship. Think you're going to bounce around in the seats? Nope. The coilover shock suspension makes this rock insect cling to stuff that spiders have a hard time gripping. The rear springs are stiffer on the passenger side (just like a drag car would be set up) to help launch the truck straighter on the tough climbs. Best of all, you can expect the Currie family to be experimenting with all kinds of trick Jeep components that might one day trickle down to your own TJ project.
Nate Sponsler's '85 Chevy 1-ton
"Rumble Bumble Big-Block" February
Here's what a 4x4 from the Midwest should look like. Drive over rocks? Yep. Tow your bass boat? No problem. Gun it across a muddy cornfield? You betcha. Seven inches of lift over 38-inch TSL Super Swampers, 4.56 gears inside a Dana 60 and a 14-bolt, and a 454 big-block add to the shouting. Heck it's even got a four-speed and a twin-sticked NP205! We're in love. We want you to look past the bumblebee paint job and see what these 1-ton trucks can be built to do. Who said your "tow rig" can't be your "trail rig" too?
Joe Sabatini's '68 Kaiser Jeep M715
"Chattanooga Choo Choo Terrain" March
Oh Hummer, you have so much to live up to! There is an illustrious off-road legacy of military vehicles in our country that has helped define what a "real" 4x4 should look like and be able to do. When you have to launch invasions into hostile territories, you've got to be mobile, and that's what this M715 of Joe Sabatini is all about. We bet wars would have been won a lot faster if all M715s were outfitted like this one! If you think fullsizes on the trail are cool, then you gotta know fullsize military rigs are ice hot. Dana 60 front, and 70 rear with 5.87 gears, a 4-inch National spring lift, and 44x18.5-16.5 Gumbo Mudders give us goose-bumps. Aren't those things on everybody's Christmas list this year? What other truck than the M715 could be as manly and beefy-even in the hands of a civilian trail commander? DaimlerChrysler, would you bring back this line of Jeeps for us?
Kevin Fox's '81 CJ-7
If the Mike Flores/Shannon Campbell CJ-5 was the Jeep of things to come, this is the Jeep of Christmas past. And it's classic: AMC 360 power, T-18, Dana 300, Dana 30 front, and a Model 20 rear. Not a single Chevy nothin' anywhere! And it still works. Pure, simple, and functional just how we like them. You could build a gem like this without even maxing out the credit card...OK, maybe just one credit card. "Hello, Visa? Do I have enough available balance to build a CJ-7? Thank you." You know we're suckers for anything that can blast through the snow on a set of Super Swampers. What was Santa driving this year anyway?
Mike Flores & Shannon Campbell's '76 CJ-5
"It's Still A Jeep" February
This is what Jeeps became in the new millennium. Tube frames, stretched bodies, fuel-injected crate motors, and quarter-elliptic springs for that ARCA-inspired look and performance. Sure, it's a bender-built Jeep with a Chevy engine, transmission, and axles, but it's done just right. Mike Flores took his old '5 and transformed it with Shannon Campbell's help into a fast, flexy rig that works as well as it looks. It's a total utilitarian rig that sports all the goodies you'd want on the trail but none of the fluff that adds weight and complexity. Translation: it works, doesn't break every 10 feet, and inspires other 4x4 owners to try new stuff on their own rigs.
Mike Williams' '79 K5 Blazer
See? Fullsizes can do trails. If you keep 'em low and cut the sheetmetal out for really big rubber (like Mike's 39.5 Swampers). This Blazer has been anointed with crossover steering hooked to a Dana 60 front axle filled with an ARB, and a rear Detroit-locked 14-bolt. The square-tube grille insert doesn't thrill us, but we bet it holds up better than the factory plastic stuff, so we'll let it slide. This rig is built "bad to the bone," and still looks good. Plus it's a convertible, kinda, and wheels great. Not overkill or showy (hey it's not a big-block truck...Yet!), it seems just right for this year of Chevydom.