1971 Jeep DJ-5B
One of the most overlooked stories in the long line of Jeep vehicles is that of the DJ series. Starting in 1955 by the Willys-Overland Company, the DJ Jeeps were a two-wheel-drive version of the popular CJ, or civilian Jeep. Used primarily as postal vehicles, the DJ Jeeps enjoyed a lifespan of almost 30 years before they were discontinued in 1984.
We happened to find this DJ-5B sitting in a small-town car lot around Hospers Iowa. The latest owner had given it an increased stance to mimic that of its 4-wheel-drive cousin but without the extra wheels turning it wasn’t living up to its look. Being such a unique vehicle, we knew we had to do something special with it. But if this old Jeep was going to be turning heads, it had a heap of work to do. The old 232 cubic inch AMC straight six was gushing oil faster than it could use it, and the brakes were so soft we weren’t sure if there was butter or brake fluid in the lines. The body was beaten up from years of abuse, but surprisingly very little rust was showing through, making this Jeep a great candidate for a unique build.
Having his roots in the hot rod culture of the 1950’s and 60’s, Mortie has always had a passion for big power in little vehicles. That’s where the idea of turning this Jeep into a tire-roasting, low-slung, powerhouse type rat rod came from. Starting with the two-wheel-drive base meant we could bring it closer to the pavement without sacrificing the benefits usually associated with four-wheel-drive. To give it the stance we were looking for, while also giving us the traction needed for a high horsepower, lightweight vehicle, we opted to go with a custom built four-link suspension in the back and stock leaf springs up front. To keep the vehicle from twisting up like teenagers at a Chubby Checker concert, we scraped the stock C channel frame for a custom built 2x4 tube frame made from 7-gauge steel.
Currently, many aspects of this build are still up in the air. The engine, transmission, and driveline setup are yet to be decided, as are the exterior color and interior styling. The project has a long way to go, and being that it’s not a money maker (the plan is to slap a Mortie’s Speed logo on the side and cruise it around as a parts truck/rolling billboard), it unfortunately only sees shop time when there’s available hours. It will be a nice addition to the Mortie’s fleet when it’s done, but for now it’s like an aged bourbon, awaiting its time to be opened up and consumed properly.