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A hommage to all things ZJ | Woods Racing

True to the bone, my blood runs Ford blue, always has, always will…but I gotta give it to Jeeps. No enthusiast who has any mechanical talent whatsoever can disagree.

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The symbol, like Ronald McDonald and Harry Houdini, everyone knows it. Even little kids know what jeeps are. The military also defines Jeep in their dictionary since 1942. Check it out:
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Jeep: A four-wheel drive vehicle of one-half- to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the bantam-cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the ½-ton command vehicle. Also referred to as “any small plane, helicopter, or gadget.”
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Pretty cool, although it wasn’t till about ’43 that Willys-Overland trademarked it.
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They’ve been with us in almost every war and skirmish in any country, they take off-road fans up mountains and down through creeks, get daily drivers to work on time, and now even get soccer mom’s back and forth from the bank to the T-ball diamond.
It even acts as lawn ornaments in some parts of N. America.
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It’s name, is synonymous with tough, go anywhere, do anything, and has even become has household term such as…”it’s snowing? Oh, we’ll take the Jeep then.” It always starts, and always gets you home.
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They’re also quite the little tramp though, Ford made em, AMC took it over, Willys perfected em, Chrysler kicked ass with em…the list goes on, but despite it being the homewrecker that they are, they keep going. Parts are readily available, and generally, easy to fix. There are numerous clubs, groups, orginizations, trail meets, convoys, databases, restoration suppliers, you name it.
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So why am I writing about all this when you know as well as I do that we’re pretty much Ford folk around here. Well, I have a confession to make.
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I do, I love my ZJ. I bought my Jeep from a buddy a few years ago. I traded in my 04 Ranger (which was super cool) for the WR04 and I needed a winter vehicle. Eric was buying a heavier duty pickup to tow his trail jeep around, and the timing was right. I brought it home, and of course, my relentless addiction to making everything I own, “non stock”, I went ahead with a set of mags and tires, big brake kit, over head lights, and a complete interior swap.
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Here’s when I got it:
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And here it is now:
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I then proceeded to run the hell out of it. I mean, really beat it up. I off-roaded, jumped it, towed hard with it, yanked it, pushed stuff with it, the works. I converted it into somewhat of a camper and spent many nights off the side of some trail or at a campground with its indestructible battery cranking out Stevie Ray Vaughn throughout the wee hours. It carried all the parts to the track, and all the tools wherever I went with the WR04 strapped to a trailer on the back. It’s got about 280,000km’s on that 5.2 and I’ll tell ya, it’s earned its gold star and parking spot in the Woods Racing stable. I would often take my oldest Niece Cassidy off roading and she had a project for school in which she had to show the class things she wanted in the future. Along side a wedding dress and a house, was a picture of Uncle Bannon’s red jeep. It’s a mainstay not only at the shop, but on the personal side as well.
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I did all the regular maintenance on it, ball joints, tie-rods, exhaust…etc and ran it through my Amsoil program and it ran perfectly for the time. When I got it, the valve stem seals were leaking and I never did get around to changing them. I kinda always thought, “well, it won’t last too too long anyway, I’ll just rebuild the whole engine if it get’s too rough”.
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On and on it went, back up the mountain, sliding down the trails, deep deep in snow and it just wouldn’t quit. Well, until last spring anyhow. Or so I thought.
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I was on my way to a dyno appt and well, turned a corner and pretty much every kind of coloured smoke come out of the poor thing. I pretty much fumigated St.Lazare (which explains the lack of mosquitoes this year). It chugged, coughed, and quit. Right there in the middle of the road. I waited a second, started it back up and with my foot through the floor board I got it home and swapped it for the F-150.
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And it sat. There it sat for 3 months, 4 months, all through summer, and into fall. Now before it becomes a lawn ornament itself, or rotted away to nothing, I gave Martin a call over at BHP Motors and we worked out an engine package for it. A bored over 318 with a heavy cam and intake should set me just under the 400 hp range and will satisfy my hunger…for now anyway.
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So this morning, I had the day to myself so I thought I’d bring it in the shop and have a good look. After it tanked on me, I never really bothered looking, just figured head gasket failure, or even blown motor. I tried starting it a couple times and it wouldn’t go, so I just left it. So inside it goes. The starter had quit, so Fred over at Napa rushed me one and I winched it onto the lift.
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Got the starter changed, check the oil and coolant which were both surprisingly good, and started it up. It knocked for a second, then settled down and purred like a kitten. My dad was here and we looked at each other with puzzled faces and shrugged. Over the engine bay we gave the general “Well, it’s a jeep” look and I backed it out. I let it warm up to temp, and took it for a drive. The front end is pretty shaky, but I knew that since I’m pretty sure I destroyed my diff when I was picking up a 350CI block and running through Barrett’s ditch at his shop. The rotors are scorned to hell and looks like axles and hubs will be ordered this week.
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Other than that and a sticky passenger door handle, it runs fine. It’s not perfect by any means, but hell, it ain’t blown up. I’m still considering the engine package, and will most likely put it in, but I’m gonna see what happens through the winter first. I swear, this thing is tough. It can’t be destroyed.
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So that’s my story about my beloved ZJ. Stay tuned with updates since now that it’s running again, I’ll be playing with it a lot more.
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Nov 26th by Bannon



One Response

  1. sick article! we need to make a video of the jeep :p


    Bannon



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