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 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!"
I posted his photos here soon after that,with the question, "Anybody recognize this Jeep?" And after having the photos posted for nearly 20 years, we've found out the background on this Jeep.
Kurt Lauer of Elyria, Ohio, says he and his father built the Jeep and used it to push race cars in Sandusky and at other tracks around Ohio.
It was not originally a high hood. Kurt says, "The body was either a 2A or 3A, and we extended it up to be a B. The frame and running gear is a '74 CJ-5. The original 304 has long since been replaced. My dad extended the cowl sides and made the hood by hand to make everything fit."
When the Lauers sold the Jeep, it was painted in a copper color. They lost track of it, so we still don't know who did the purple and yellow paint job. At one point it was for sale in Florida, which is where this picture came from.
As of 2019, Kurt is trying to find the Jeep again. Any leads would be welcome.
Kurt says, "We removed the tailgate and filled it in, to make a custom upholstered seat and speaker box below." This photo reveals artwork on that purple rear panel, suggesting that new owners may still have been using the Jeep at racetracks.
Thanks to Bruce and Kurt for the photos, and to Tom Edwards. -- Derek Redmond
Return to the Index of Unusual Photos on CJ3B.info.
Visit CJ3B.info on Facebook.
CJ3B Home | Contents | Search | Links | 3A and 3B Community