A 1953 CJ-3B built by Toby Lavender of Seaside, California was one of the finalists in Four Wheeler magazine's Top Truck Challenge 2002. Held in Hollister, California in early June, the competition brought together ten 4x4 vehicles selected by the magazine's readers.
There is usually a handful of Jeeps among the finalists in the TTC, and this year there were two flatfenders -- a CJ-3A and a 3B -- but they were basically just bodies sitting on top of custom rock crawlers. Lavender's Jeep had the engine compartment stretched forward by 3 inches to fit the Chevy 350 V8.
Photo by Craig Perronne, courtesy Four Wheeler.
In this photo Lavender airs down the 38.5-inch Super Swamper tires to improve the score a bit on the RTI ramp. He carries an onboard air tank.
Photo by TJpwr, courtesy Pirate4x4.com.
The Jeep's wheelbase is extended to 100 inches. The suspension is three-link with coilover shocks front and rear, and steering is hydraulically assisted.
This photo and the photos below are by Matt c104, courtesy Pirate 4x4.com.
The judges gave the flattie first place in appearance, frame flexibility, hill climbing, and the obstacle course.
On the other hand, Lavender scored at (or near) the bottom in acceleration, braking, towing, the mudpit, and the "mini-Rubicon."
The high hood was in the middle of the pack in engineering, ride, and the tank trap (160K JPEG). In the totals, Toby Lavender placed a very respectable fourth out of ten.
The complete results were scheduled to appear in Four Wheeler's November 2002 issue. Thanks to Tom McHugh for spotting this.
The owner of this high-hood boulevard cruiser painted it an eye-popping purple; it's a color that turns heads so it's perfect on a Jeep like this. Most people probably feel purple is too wild for a stock Jeep, so Chrysler didn't sell too many 1997 TJ's in the factory Magenta. (And needless to say, Willys didn't use any paint close to this, although they turned out a few in a pretty bright yellow.)
Bruce Harchuck sent these photos he grabbed out the driver's window near Sandusky, Ohio in the summer of 2000. Bruce says, "I barely had time to take a picture. I was going 65 MPH when he passed me!"
Anybody recognize this Jeep?
Thanks to Bruce for the photos, and to Tom Edwards. -- Derek Redmond
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