Full­size Jeep Evo­lu­tion

Mak­ing a rig for all oc­ca­sions

Jp Magazine - - Table Of Contents - By Stu­art A. Bour­don jped­i­tor@jp­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Stu­art A. Bour­don

Troy Ter­tany and Tony Dur­bano are long­time friends and off-road en­thu­si­asts who

have turned a hobby into a busi­ness. Builders of cus­tom ve­hi­cles of all species, they do Jeeps es­pe­cially well, and through their com­pany (iamroamr.com) they’re do­ing even more. Their new­est cre­ation has been dubbed the Tom­a­hawk and is based on a 1974 Jeep J20 pickup. We caught up with Tom­a­hawk on the rocks above Moab, Utah, dur­ing Easter Jeep Sa­fari. The fin­ished prod­uct is like a wish list for those Jeep en­thu­si­asts look­ing for an over­land-style rig that has more than six cylin­ders un­der its hood.

Power to Ground

The ’74 Jeep J20 came with an AMC 401ci V-8, which was given a mild­per­for­mance re­build and gained all-new ac­ces­sories. The guys swapped a Holley Ter­mi­na­tor EFI sys­tem in for that ag­ing carb, and in­stalled a Be Cool ra­di­a­tor and fan to help keep the V-8 run­ning ex­tra cool. Also tucked in­side the en­gine com­part­ment and mounted to the driver­side in­ner fend­er­well are the con­trols and con­nec­tion to a Vi­air on­board air com­pres­sor sys­tem. A TH400 au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and a BorgWarner 1339 Quadra-Trac trans­fer case with a part­time con­ver­sion kit back up the 401. Cus­tom Tom Wood’s drive­shafts de­liver the power to the axles.

This was a frame-off resto­mod, and all the “bad spots,” as Troy put it, were made bet­ter than new. To be­gin with, the body and frame were short­ened 131⁄2 inches from the ends of each, but the wheel­base re­mained the stan­dard 132 inches. Cas­tle Fab­ri­ca­tion and Miller Col­li­sion were called in to help with frame and body­work where needed. A 6-inch Me­talCloak sus­pen­sion sys­tem meant for an LJ, Me­talCloak 6Pak shocks, and Ter­aFlex SpeedBumps were used to hang axles from the frame. The front axle is the fac­tory 44 that’s been trussed, fit­ted with a 4.88 Yukon Zip Locker, chro­moly shafts, and Reid knuck­les. The rear Dana 60 full-floater also car­ries a 4.88 Yukon Zip Locker.

Hy­dro-as­sist from PSC gives the Artec steer­ing sys­tem the ex­tra oomph it needs to turn and hold the 40x13.50R17LT Nitto Trail Grap­plers wrapped around 17-inch B.A.D. bead­lock wheels. A BJ’s Off-Road disc brake and hy­dro­boost con­ver­sion was also done on the J20.

Body and Soul

A Rugged Ridge front bumper offers a perch for the Warn Zeon 12-S 12,000-pound-ca­pac­ity winch with a Fac­tor 55 FlatLink, and a Rugged

Ridge rear bumper fits backup lights and pro­vides a 2-inch re­ceiver hitch.

The “rhino” grille holds J.W. Speaker JK head­lights, and a Wilco swing-out tail­gate and spare tire car­rier but­tons up the bed. Me­talCloak fend­ers were trimmed to fit all four cor­ners of the J20, and Rugged Ridge rock­ers pro­tect the span of sheet­metal be­tween the wheel­wells.

The cab in­te­rior offers an al­most lux­ury-level cus­tom re­fit that in­cludes a plaid head­liner that ge­o­met­ri­cally echoes the cus­tom di­a­mond-stitched cov­er­ing on the front seats. An Alpine au­dio head and Kicker speak­ers fill the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment with sound. Al­though the J20’s dash has re­mained in an al­most com­pletely stock con­di­tion and is very clean, it has been up­dated with a Dakota Digital gauge clus­ter, Switch-Pro aux­il­iary equip­ment switches, and the Holley EFI sys­tem and en­gine man­age­ment in­ter­face mod­ule.

Act­ing as both tool/gear car­rier and en­clo­sure, the bed-arch­ing tube struc­ture from Leit­ner Ac­tive Cargo Sys­tem makes or­ga­niz­ing and stor­ing tools, spare parts,

etc., easy with built-in lockable com­part­ments and ac­ces­sory racks on both sides. On the in­side, we found a Power Tank sys­tem racked to the cargo sys­tem in a con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion, and the J20’s bed (which has been coated in Rhino Liner) is made even more util­i­tar­ian with a Decked Drawer Sys­tem that fea­tures side-by-side full-length draw­ers.

What’s above the Leit­ner rack is of special in­ter­est. When the day’s travel is done and it’s time to camp for the night, the Tom­a­hawk de­liv­ers. The rooftop tent is one of the man­ual pop-up Ad­ven­ture Se­ries from Freespirit Re­cre­ation that sleeps two. In front of the tent is a Rhino-Rack cab-top rack for things you want off the ground and se­cure but not in­side the ve­hi­cle—it also car­ries six J.W. Speaker lights.

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