Do you remember those dreams you had, as a kid, when you wished you could drive around a lifted convertible Chevy Astro van?
Ok, I don't either, but forget BMW – this is the Ultimate Driving Machine.
(Full Disclosure: I'm a cinematographer, and I currently work in the firearms industry, which is a trip, to say the least. As a gearhead, I'm lucky enough to enjoy the full range of vehicles associated with the work – whether it's WWII deuces, jet boats, tanks, ORVs, fully kitted overland Jeeps and Tacomas, ExMOD Land Rover Defenders, or 8-wheeled Soviet troop carriers.)
I know very little about 1980s jeeps. Here is what I do know:
- While I was shopping around for a Tacoma, my wife left me unsupervised for a minute and I ended up behind the wheel of an '89 YJ with a 350 swap and a welded rear diff. Thought I was gonna die.
- That's all.
I read the Jalopnik article about Texas hunting trucks a few months ago but forgot about the phenomenon until I found myself in a sunflower field on a dove hunt about ten miles from the Mexican border.
This rad CJ7 conversion (if you can call it that) rolled up, and I immediately knew I had to write a piece on it. Driven by the farmer whose land we were hunting on, about all I got out of him was "mumble, mumble, 258 six cylinder, mumble..."
He later told me that he used to build much bigger ones when he lived in Florida – to drive through the swamps (screw boats!)
That was that, and we loaded up and drove out to shoot some doves with our suppressed shotguns.
I couldn't decide if I should give it a 1 or a 10 - it's beautiful in a way that only gearheads can understand. Custom bumpers, railings, platforms and steps – and seats and lights and controls and really everything.
Off-road Ability: 15/10
This thing could take you anywhere – though I might install a roll cage – or seatbelts.
It stopped when asked it to stop; what more do you need?
Ya know. Felt pretty torquey, though.
So cushy. I don't know what kind of van they ripped those seats out of – but they made a great choice.
It's no BRZ - but it can hold its own in a straight line.
Interior: 6/10 (Or is it actually the exterior?)
Definitely minimalist, though less Bauhaus and more Deliverance. Extra points for pvc pipe steering column and wood accelerator pedal!
Rusty machete included.
Want to climb in the back? You can do that. Want to sit in front of the driver? You can do that. Want to hang on the side carrying a shotgun and ride around like a maniac? You can do that.
I would absolutely buy one of these, even if the only place I could drive it was my half-acre back yard. I like to imagine throwing a cooler in the back and tackling Hell's Revenge in one of these.
There ya have it – for those of you looking for a solid alternative to that Unimog you found on Craigslist, I guarantee that this is the most helpful review you'll read all day.
Engine: 4.2L AMC I6
Power: 98 HP / 193 LB-FT
Transmission: 3 Speed Automatic
0-60 Time: Dude, who knows?
Top Speed: Don't know if I'd do much more than 5 or 10 mph.
Drivetrain: 4 wheel drive / Dana 300 Transfer Case
Curb Weight: 2,707 pounds (pre-modifications)
Seating: 2 up front + 4 up top + probably 4 more = 10ish, plus a hunting dog
MPG: Suck it!
You can find me on Instagram @maxdaines.