Make a Good Deal Gooder?
Q I just bought a '98 Jeep TJ. I really wasn't in the market for another 4x4 but couldn't pass up this smoking deal. (I know everyone there at Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road has been here before.)
Here is my dilemma. It has the severely underpowered four-cylinder engine with 94,000 miles. Would it be worth the time and effort to complete an engine swap for this vehicle or just try to sell it and attempt to find another Jeep with the 4.0L as clean as this? I know that with an engine conversion come headaches and multiple other drivetrain component replacements, but the initial cost I paid for the vehicle is far lower than any other Jeep I've seen. I am planning on this being a moderate trail machine, but I still want to be able to drive it on the street and meet California emissions laws.
San Diego, CA
A Swapping out the four-cylinder for the 4.0L six sounds good on paper, but it's not really worth the trouble. I'd say either drive it as is and put some low gears in it to turn bigger rubber, or sell it and find the Jeep with the engine you want. The four-cylinder isn't terrible in the dirt; they chug along pretty well. I know guys who love the 4.0L straight-six, but their rule is "the 4.0 is great in whatever it came in, but shouldn't be swapped into anything else." You would think the 4.0L would fall right into the four-cylinder Jeep engine bay, but I'm sure it's not that easy. If you had a good-running 4.0 and the four-cylinder was dead, I'd consider it, but since it runs now I would leave it alone.
Body Con Torsion
Q I have a '96 Chevy K1500 with the 5.0 V-8 and manual tranny. I just put on 265/75/16 tires on Pro Comp 16x8 rockcrawler rims, a Lund sun visor, Lund hoodscoops, and a brushguard. I thought I had it the way I wanted it and was finished buying stuff for it, but as soon as I dropped the jack my first thought was it could use a 2-inch body lift. You guys have more experience with them then I do, and I was wondering if you could lead me in the direction to a good kit. The lift is mainly for looks because it's pretty much my daily driver and wood hauler in the fall.
A I think you should look into a torsion bar key leveling kit. While a body lift works well in many circumstances, the amount of lift is equal front and rear. With the leveling kit, you can raise your truck and level it out very easily, and one usually costs $100-150.
Right Jeep, Wrong Body
Q Hi. My son and I have purchased a '43 MB/GPW with a 1953 M38A1 body.
The frame and powertrain are all original to the '43. We do not want to use the L-134 engine, but are concerned about what will fit in the frame without modifying the length of the frame.
We have to use parts from the junkyard because our budget is nonexistent. What will fit, either with an adapter to the T-90 tranny or a complete engine, tranny, trans case from a vehicle we can find in a junkyard?
My son is a mechanic and welder, and I am pretty good with my hands.
We are not planning on any rockcrawling or mud bogging. It will be used for deer hunting on logging roads in Idaho, and I would like to drive it to town or to work when the weather is good.
A The M38A1 is very similar to a CJ-5. I think you would be better off either tracking down a CJ-5 frame and running gear or having your son build a new frame. The MB/GPW frames are fine in basic form and with stock engines. However, as you upgrade the engine you will find weak links in drivetrain and frame. If you decide to keep the MB frame I'd consider a GM V-6 like the 4.3L. It fits in the frame without too much work, offers good power for the Jeep, and is easy to find parts for. I suspect you can find a Jeep restorer who would be willing to trade a later CJ-5 frame for your MB/GPW frame with all the drivetrain intact.