4X4 PRODUCT VEHICLES
Rick Russell built his ultimate 4x4 -- ALL from aftermarket parts. The "AJ-8" (Aftermarket Jeep) is an aluminum bodied Bobbed-Scrambler for street and trail. It basically has the wheelbase of his CJ-6, but with late model doors and fenders. This AJ8 is set up for rugged trail riding, not extreme rock crawling. This is the type of vehicle that can be driven from Los Angeles to Moab for a trail ride through Pritchett Canyon Trail. The cab is air-conditioned and the suspension is set up to provide off road performance and a comfortable ride at highway speeds; thus making it a versatile vehicle for camping, fishing or exploring remote roads. This vehicle received its final assembly during the 2003 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab
When completed, this vehicle will be used under varying conditions. Therefore, the truck must perform well in all situations. First, it will be used as another family vehicle. That is, it will be driven by the wife and kids occasionally. A 4 door was too big for around town and the single seat (not extended) does not have enough room to carry people. So the extended cab seemed to be the right choice for a body style. Mileage is somewhat of a factor but not weighed heavily. Secondly, the truck must be able to carry our full size camper. With the camper loaded up the rear axle alone weights 5,900 lbs. The truck must handle this weight and still be able to tow the trailer with the CJ-6. To handle the additional weight I added dual wheels and upgraded the suspension. And any truck of mine must also be capable of 4 wheeling -- maybe not trail riding, but certainly capable of running dirt roads and able to maneuver in snow and mud. Can I build it for under $10,000? I think so.
In 1989 after 18 years of add-ons and modifications to Rick Russell's 1956 CJ-6 Willys Jeep, he reached the conclusion it was time to build another vehicle from the ground up. Using another CJ-6, he combined the body parts from both vehicles with an electric Jeep frame (already boxed and outboard rear springs). It took eighteen months for the Jeep to be running again and another year to "dial it in". The Jeep has been featured at many off road shows, sports shows and car exhibits since its debut in the 1990 SCORE Off Road Show. The Jeep has been seen in 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility, Auto Week, Off-Road, Petersen's 4 Wheel, Four Wheeler, The Los Angeles Times, Dirt Wheels, and several catalogs. Of course, it appears in Sidekick Off Road Maps, Calendars, and the Off Highway Adventure Video Series. If you're curious, the estimated cost of building this rugged vehicle exceeds $30,000.
In 1993 I decided my CJ-7 was not a “Street Jeep.” The air conditioning had no hope of cooling the passenger compartment. The heater and defroster were inadequate during the winter months and there was never enough space. So I sold the CJ-7 and bought a Cherokee. I built the Cherokee into what I consider a “Stage Three" 4x4: a vehicle that will perform well off the highway but could still be an everyday vehicle. By this I mean the Cherokee can consistently run the "Most Difficult" trails when needed but takes you there in comfort and with reasonable fuel economy. And believe me; I know how to push a vehicle to its limits.
Why a Cherokee? I like the body style, Fuel Injected motor (4.0L), and automatic transmission. I don't like the unibody, but I'll live with it to get the other features. Just as a side note: the 1997+ Cherokees have a much stiffer unibody which should hold up better to off road abuse.
Sidekick Off Road is now owned by:
All J Products - 909-866-4800
Heather and Quinn Thomas
41610 Brownie Lane
PO Box 1888
Big Bear Lake CA 92315