Jp Magazine - - Front Page - By Jay Kopy­cin­ski jped­i­tor@jp­ Pho­tog­ra­phy: Jay Kopy­cin­ski


Eric Askins pur­chased this 1973 Jeep CJ-5 as a project ve­hi­cle while still at­tend­ing

col­lege. At the time it had been mod­i­fied some­what, with a stretched tub and coil springs in the rear. It also had an AMC 360 V-8, TH400 au­to­matic, and an NP205 trans­fer case. It was not a shabby rig at all. Af­ter fix­ing it up and wheel­ing it for a while, he was forced to sell it to con­tinue his ed­u­ca­tion. Long af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he found it for sale in New Mex­ico and was soon the owner again. By this time, the old CJ-5 was pretty trashed and in need of a se­ri­ous re­build. Given a se­cond chance with this 45-year-old Jeep, Askins made it bet­ter than ever. Today it has an all-busi­ness in­te­rior, clas­sic ex­te­rior, beefy driv­e­train, and a pow­er­ful mod­ern pow­er­train than can turn big rub­ber on hard-core trails.


Askins knew he wanted to build the CJ-5 for south­west­ern rock­crawl­ing, which means claw­ing over large boul­ders and up water­fall ledges. Eric felt that while short and skinny rigs can snake their way through a lot of ob­sta­cles, a rig with a longer wheel­base would be bet­ter on ex­treme in­clines. The wheel­base now sits at 115 inches. A linked sus­pen­sion pro­vides ex­cel­lent ap­proach/de­par­ture an­gles.

All along, the Jeep had some type of front leaf springs, un­til Askins took it to RPM Fab­ri­ca­tion in Phoenix. Here, a new front half-frame with cus­tom bumper was built to sup­port the coilovers and linked sus­pen­sion. A cus­tom three­link setup in front is fit­ted with 2.5-inch, 16-inch-travel King coilovers with re­mote reser­voirs. Two-inch-di­am­e­ter Fox air bumps limit the front axle dur­ing com­pres­sion travel. Steve Ar­lia at Arizona

Pre­ci­sion Fab­ri­ca­tion built the dou­ble-tri­an­gu­lated rear four-link that uses match­ing King coilovers and Fox bumps like the front sus­pen­sion. The rear also uses a Cur­rie TJ/LJ An­tirock sway bar that has been mod­i­fied to fit.

A cus­tom six-point rollcage built from 13⁄4-inch DOM tub­ing pro­vides oc­cu­pant safety, is topped with a sheet-alu­minum roof, and con­tin­ues for­ward into the en­gine com­part­ment and ends with a spare tire car­rier tied into the rear of the ’cage. The cus­tom front bumper sup­ports a Warn 9.5cti winch with syn­thetic rope. A 17-gal­lon RCI fuel cell sits just in­side the rear of the stretched tub and is se­cured with Artec mounts.

The Sag­i­naw steer­ing box was ported for hy­draulic as­sist and fit­ted with a quick­ra­tio kit. A cus­tom pit­man arm now holds the drag link rod end in dou­ble shear and con­nects to the end of an 8-inch PSC hy­draulic ram. A Howe cooler helps keep fluid tem­per­a­ture in check.


While the CJ-5 had boasted V-8 power for some years, Askins wanted to step up to a mod­ern pow­er­plant with fuel in­jec­tion. He had Ar­lia fab­ri­cate new mo­tor mounts to ac­cept a GM LS en­gine. Askins slid a 2006 5.3L V-8 from a Sil­ver­ado be­tween the fram­erails and backed it with a 4L65E au­to­matic that’s con­trolled with an Art Carr gated shifter. A ca­ble-shifted At­las II trans­fer case

with 4.3:1 low-range gear­ing de­liv­ers the slow torque needed for crawl­ing in the desert. A Northern ra­di­a­tor cooled with a Spal 2200-cfm elec­tric fan works to keep en­gine tem­per­a­tures rea­son­able.

Last year, Askins got a bit rowdy at the dunes and jumped his Jeep higher than ex­pected. The land­ing re­sulted in two bro­ken rear axle­shafts and a Dana 44 hous­ing with a smi­ley curve. Hence, it seemed like a good time to up­grade driv­e­train hard­ware. A GM king­pin-style Dana 60 was built for the front. Up­grade parts in­clude Reid Rac­ing knuck­les and bronze bush­ings, Artec high-steer arms and truss, Yukon Griz­zly locker, 5.38 gears, 4340 chro­moly shafts, Su­per Joints, Hard­core Hubs, and a Dy­na­trac stub hub kit. A GM 14-bolt axle was cho­sen for the rear. It was clear­anced with a Bal­lis­tic shave kit and trussed with Artec com­po­nents. In­side the axle is an­other Griz­zly locker and 5.38 gear­ing. Ar­lia worked his TIG-weld­ing magic on all of the axle-strength­en­ing com­po­nents, so the Jeep should be far more dune-proof in the fu­ture.

The CJ-5 now has Chevy 3⁄4-ton disc brake calipers on all four cor­ners, with the rear mounted us­ing Ruf­fStuff Spe­cial­ties brack­ets. Both driveshafts use 0.25-inch­wall DOM tub­ing and 1350-series joints. Un­der­neath there’s a smooth, flat belly with a full skid­plate to pro­tect the en­gine and trans­mis­sion. Rolling stock on the Jeep con­sists of 40x13.50R17LT Nitto Mud Grap­plers mounted onto Race­line RT232 Mon­ster bead­lock wheels.

Body and In­te­rior

The body has been stretched some 34 inches and now the rig sits on a long 115-inch wheel­base. The rear of the tub was cut open, and the front fend­ers were cut and tubed flat for added tire clearance. With the longer tub, Askins now

has good legroom plus cargo space for gear in the back of the CJ-5.

Sus­pen­sion seats and full har­nesses from PRP are tied into the rollcage. A cus­tom con­sole now runs from the dash and in be­tween the seats, and holds a Lowrance HDS-9 Gen 3 GPS unit for back­coun­try nav­i­ga­tion up high. The cus­tom con­sole also sup­ports the gated shifter and con­trol switches. Stor­age in­side the ’cage and be­hind the seats pro­vides room for a cooler, twin ARB com­pres­sors, and bags for tools and spare parts.

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