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Classic 4x4s That Earn Their Keep

There’s just something special about real vintage 4x4s that do real work!

Christian Hazel
Mar 9, 2021

Eat your peas. Take your medicine. Clean your room. Chances are if you had to do any of these tasks as a small child, your parents turned it into some sort of game that made whatever distasteful task you had to complete more palatable. "Open up, here comes the airplane!" "Hold your nose, here comes the spoon!" "How many socks can you pick up before the buzzer goes off?" But as an adult it's not so easy to turn work into play. However, I've found that sometimes when I'm using one of my classic 4x4 trucks to do real work, it takes the sting out of whatever task I'm trying to complete.

Vintage 4x4 Tow Rig

Photo 2/14   |   02 Ford F 250 Tow Vehicle

Although it has a factory fuel-injected 460 engine and functional air conditioning, my old 1989 Ford F-250 barely qualifies as a classic truck. But given that it came with rear drum brakes, locking front hubs, and today would be 32 years old, I'd say it's close enough. I had a Banks exhaust and intake setup to help it breathe a bit better, I added a Gear Vendors overdrive to help the C6 transmission and 4.10 gears deal with highway speeds, and then used that truck to haul or tow almost every mile I put on it. I remember pulling Jeeps up to the Rubicon or to Moab several times with that truck, and every mile was an adventure.

Classic Farm & Ranch Truck

Photo 3/14   |   03 Classic 1972 Jeep J4000 Farm And Ranch Truck
Photo 4/14   |   04 Vintage 1972 Jeep J4000 Pickup Hauling Paver Tiles

When I bought my 1972 Jeep J4000 pickup, it already had home-built bedrails to keep stacked hay bails on board. I continued the farm and ranch theme of this truck by using it frequently to haul brush and debris from my avocado orchard and to help friends clear land. With a 360 engine, a TH400, Dana 20 T-case, and 4.10s spinning only 31-inch tires, it'd pull a house down and ate up any job I handed it.

Working Willys & Wranglers

Photo 5/14   |   05 Using A Vintage 1948 Willys CJ2A To Haul A Jeep Engine
Photo 6/14   |   06 Using A Classic Jeep Wrangler YJ To Pull A Trailer

Have you ever hauled an engine in a vintage Willys or Wrangler? I'm here to tell you that a Jeep 4.0L inline-six is a great fit in the cargo area of a 1948 CJ-2A. And I've strapped a small-block Chevy in the cargo area of my 1989 Wrangler to transport to the machine shop or dyno shop more than once. And the best part is the engine doesn't even exceed the quarter-ton cargo rating of an early CJ or Wrangler. And Jeep CJs and Wranglers are so short and nimble, they make perfect trailer tugs to move stored trailers and boats around your property or haul small utility trailers. I use my YJ Wrangler all the time to shuttle my 23-foot wakeboard boat around my property, move my car hauler with vehicles on it, or run tires to the shop or stuff to the dump with a little single-axle utility trailer.

Field Service Repair Bench

Photo 7/14   |   07 Using A Vintage Military Jeep M715 Bed As A Workbench

I used to have a 1968 Jeep M-715 military five-quarter-ton pickup with a 400-hp Chevy, SM465 transmission, Ranger Overdrive, and Atlas 3.0:1 T-case. With 5.87 axle gears and 38-inch Swampers, that truck could go anywhere and do almost anything. I used the onboard Premier Power Welder to fix gates and fences and run grinders on my or my neighbors' property. The bed in these trucks is massively thick and makes a perfect workbench. I've rebuilt transmissions on them, hauled engines, and even hammered in bearing races without damaging it. It's pulled tree stumps out of the ground and then hauled them to the dump as well as moved trailers with a front-mounted receiver hitch, all while putting a smile on my face.

Do you have a classic work truck you put to work for personal or professional use? If so, email me at christian_hazel@motortrend.com or hit my at my @hbombindustries or @christianhazelofficial Instagram and maybe we can share it with the Four Wheeler audience!

 

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