Vin­tage Look and ModernPower

A full­size Jeep built right

Jp Magazine - - Table Of Contents -

When a buddy showed Ken Far­ley Jr. pho­tos of an old vehicle parked be­hind a shop

for sev­eral years, Ken was in­trigued.

The guy thought it was an In­ter­na­tional Scout, but Ken knew ex­actly what he was look­ing at, and he wanted it. The Far­leys left their home in Fowler, Michi­gan, and drove two hours to talk to the old fella that owned it, but it took three trips and a lot of talk­ing to come home with their prize—a 1979 Jeep Chero­kee Chief S. The Jeep had been out­fit­ted from the fac­tory with a snow­plow, and it had been sit­ting for 15 years after the trans­fer case went bad. It had rel­a­tively low mileage on it, but they were hard work miles.

Ken wanted to build a rig specif­i­cally for the trails in Moab—one of his bucket list places to wheel. He knew if he didn’t build it right, he would never make it out to tackle the slick­rock and ledges of the West. A me­chanic by trade, Ken knew how he wanted this Jeep to per­form on the trails as well as the pave­ment. He

knew the trans­fer case was toast when he bought it, so that was his num­ber-one pri­or­ity, as he had a tar­get to wheel it in Moab dur­ing Easter Jeep Sa­fari 2018. With some mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the orig­i­nal leaf-spring–style sus­pen­sion, a new up­graded trans­fer case, orig­i­nal pow­er­plant, and tired trans­mis­sion, the Far­leys left for Moab. After an ex­haust­ing week of park­ing lot wrench­ing into the wee hours of the morn­ing just to keep it go­ing for daily trail runs, Ken knew he needed to make some ma­jor changes.

Fast-for­ward six months, and he has his dream wheeler and fam­ily camp­ing rig. The ad­di­tion of the 6.0L Cadil­lac V-8 and 4L65-E au­to­matic trans­mis­sion give him the power to cruise the high­way and get de­cent fuel econ­omy for a vehicle this size. The cus­tom three-link front sus­pen­sion with Fox 2.5 DSC coilovers gives the Jeep plenty of front flex. The 40-inch Baja MTZ tires on the SOTA Of­froad SSD8 rims with the color-matched bead­lock ring help to tie the whole look to­gether. The nine round KC Day­lighters take us back in time and keep with the whole vin­tage feel of this Jeep.

We hap­pened upon this sweet Jeep at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It wasn’t glossed up with ten gal­lons of tire shine, and it wasn’t waxed to within an inch of its life; it was just sit­ting there, say­ing take me as I am. We had the op­por­tu­nity to hit the red rocks of Lo­gan­dale, Ne­vada, with Ken and his wife, Amanda, and can hon­estly say that this Jeep is ev­ery­thing he built it to be.

By Traci Clark jped­i­[email protected]­ Pho­tog­ra­phy: Traci Clark and Rick Péwé

The 40x13.50R17LT Mickey Thomp­son Baja MTZ tires are meaty off-road rub­ber with nice high­way manners. These are mounted on the SOTA Of­froad SSD8 wheels. Ken had the bead­lock ring pow­der­coated to match the body color of the Jeep, and he up­graded to the HD Yukon lock­out hubs.

Ken up­graded to the GM 4L65-E au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and an NP241C trans­fer case. The cus­tom-made drive­shafts were beefed up with 1350 and 1450 U-joints. Not pic­tured is the trans­mis­sion and trans­fer case skid­plate; it was re­moved for the SEMA Show to high­light this con­ver­sion.

Some ex­ter­nal body mods were made to clear the 40-inch Mickey Thomp­son Baja MTZs. Ken cut and folded the wheel­wells a lit­tle and shaved the rear quar­ter-pan­els. The paint is the orig­i­nal weath­ered and mossy-look­ing or­ange with black ac­cents. The rooftop tent is a Free Spirit Re­cre­ation 55-inch High Coun­try Tri-Layer multi-sea­son tent with enough room for the fam­ily of four.

The rear bumper is stock with the ad­di­tion of tow points to the frame, and some trim­ming was done for ad­di­tional clear­ance. All the orig­i­nal body trim, mold­ing, and badg­ing is still in­tact. There are a few mi­nor rust spots here and there—sub­tle beauty marks— but the Jeep has sur­vived the el­e­ments well.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with JcrOf­froad, Ken took a stubby front XJ bumper and added some tapered ex­ten­sions to make it a full-width bumper. A 12,000-pound syn­thetic-rope Quadratec winch tucks into the bumper nicely, and the ad­di­tion of sev­eral round KC Day­lighters keep that retro vibe go­ing strong.

Ken used a 2004 Chevy 2500 14-Bolt rear axle and disc brake setup. He up­graded to chro­moly ’shafts, 5.13 gears, and a Yukon Griz­zly Locker. The Chevy 1500 rear leaf springs are out­boarded, and Fox 2.0 shocks help with the ride. A Chevy S10 fuel tank re­placed the orig­i­nal.

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