4WDrive

PROJECT CHILLY: A WRAN­GLER LJ RE-BUILD

For­mer Jeep prod­uct plan­ner Tony Car­vallo adds his long-time ex­per­tise and style to his per­sonal off-road ride.

- Words by JD Keat­ing Pho­tos by Brad Mor­ris @Camp.Crawl.Of­fi­cial Cars · Automotive Industry · Offroad · Industries · General Purpose · Wrangler · Jeep Wrangler · Fiat Chrysler Automobiles · Chrysler · Fiat · Chile · Jeep Wrangler (JL) · Jeep CJ · Canada

Jeeps are pop­u­lar for mod­i­fy­ing with after­mar­ket op­tions and have an in­cred­i­ble fol­low­ing. It could be ar­gued that the Wran­gler is one of the most cus­tom­iz­a­ble ve­hi­cles in the 4x4 mar­ket. Part of the over­all ap­peal is the abil­ity of mak­ing it uniquely your own.

But what if you could re­design the Wran­gler your­self? Just imag­ine the op­por­tu­nity of tak­ing on such an iconic off-road sta­ple. We re­cently had the chance to sit down with for­mer Jeep Wran­gler prod­uct plan­ner at Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles (FCA), Tony Car­vallo, who was part of the team that was tasked with re­design­ing the Jeep Wran­gler in all its beau­ti­ful, boxy glory.

Car­vallo’s re­sume reads like an off-road ad­dict’s web browser his­tory. His ac­com­plish­ments also in­clude be­ing the lead en­gi­neer at Dy­na­trac in ad­di­tion to the brand man­ager at Bestop, a man­u­fac­turer of soft tops and ac­ces­sories for Jeep. Need­less to say, he has been in the of­froad/au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries for quite some time.

As a na­tive of Chile, Car­vallo was not ac­cus­tomed to the cold Cana­dian cli­mate. His first win­ter spawned his nick-name ‘Chilly Willy’ in ref­er­ence to the 1950’s car­toon char­ac­ter. So, as a homage to his her­itage, project “Chilly” was born.

The news of his project build led us to our next ques­tion; what is the ul­ti­mate build for the guy who was part of a team re­spon­si­ble for con­vinc­ing FCA to keep a solid front axle un­der the Wran­gler and also pro­vide adapt­abil­ity, open air, and larger wheel wells? You might be as sur­prised as we were to learn it wasn’t the new Jeep Wran­gler JL, but rather a 2004 Jeep Un­lim­ited.

The Ul­ti­mate Metal Can­vas

When Car­vallo first ref­er­enced the Wran­gler as the ul­ti­mate metal can­vas, I thought he was be­ing a lit­tle ar­tis­ti­cally flam­boy­ant. But af­ter

wit­ness­ing his en­thu­si­asm for all things Jeep, I came to re­al­ize that he was right. The Wran­gler is the ul­ti­mate metal can­vas.

The Jeep LJ, or ‘long Jeep’ that it’s re­ferred to, is a late model 2-door Wran­gler that has 5 cm (2 in) more pas­sen­ger foot space and 33 cm (13 in) more trunk space than the TJ with al­most an iden­ti­cal wheel­base of 267 cm (103.4 in) as the CJ6 and CJ8 Scrambler. It was in 2004 when the Wran­gler Un­lim­ited first rolled off the pro­duc­tion line, and many still be­lieve this wheel­base is the most ideal to build on.

Car­vallo, how­ever, was more ob­sessed with the LJ’s clean lines and aes­thetic bal­ance when he chose to build his ul­ti­mate trail ma­chine. Hav­ing spent more time be­hind the wheel of a Wran­gler at The Easter Jeep Sa­fari than most en­thu­si­asts will ever dream of, he fully un­der­stands what it’s like to pi­lot such iconic ve­hi­cles as CODE1 (one of the first JL’s off the line), a Dy­na­trac-equipped, short-arm Rock Krawler Jeep on 42” tires and CODEX, a Hell­cat in­cor­po­rated into a 4-door turned 2-door be­he­moth of a rig.

Yet, Car­vallo chose the sta­ple LJ plat­form due to its sim­plic­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity, and iconic her­itage. He wanted some­thing he could eas­ily cruise down the road with, take his fam­ily on ad­ven­tures, and be very ag­gres­sive on the trails. He also wanted a rig that was vis­ually ap­peal­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Car­vallo, there are many con­sid­er­a­tions when de­sign­ing the lines of a ve­hi­cle. Wheel well open­ings and tire size ra­tio are im­por­tant for an ap­peal­ing pro­file while the lines that run along the body pan­els from the hood to the trunk are just as sig­nif­i­cant. Other con­sid­er­a­tions in­clude lift choice, tire size, wheel off­set, etc.

While Car­vallo was in­sis­tent that all of his added after­mar­ket parts func­tioned prop­erly, he wanted to en­sure that they look stock, as though they were in­stalled at the Jeep fac­tory. Sur­rounded by hype and buried in the quest for ‘big­ger and bet­ter’ through­out his ca­reer, he went with clas­sic, sub­tle mod­i­fi­ca­tions and rel­a­tively mod­est ac­ces­sories.

So, what is next for Car­vallo? It would seem his pur­suit for the next it­er­a­tion of per­fec­tion leads right back to the be­gin­ning. He has re­turned to Canada and is en­joy­ing ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment of stay­ing clas­sic, ap­pre­ci­at­ing what he has, and above all else, tak­ing great plea­sure in his 4x4 jour­ney.

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 ??  ?? Car­vallo (cen­tre) with JD Keat­ing and Brad Mor­ris.
Car­vallo (cen­tre) with JD Keat­ing and Brad Mor­ris.
 ??  ?? It also has sub­tle im­prove­ments like the Line-X Ul­tra Smooth fin­ish in gun metal gray.
It also has sub­tle im­prove­ments like the Line-X Ul­tra Smooth fin­ish in gun metal gray.

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