Before the Jeep Gladiator that we have today, there’s a Jeep truck that wasn’t as powerful as the popular pickup. The forefather, the Willys Jeep Truck, was only powered by a 2.2-liter flathead four-cylinder engine, capable of producing a measly output of 72 horsepower (54 kilowatts).
That’s why when Billy Holton restored and modified a Willys Jeep pickup, it had to shoehorn a huge V8 engine inside – but that isn’t the only thing that’s amazing with this build, featured on the episode of Barcroft Cars embedded atop this page.
Holton and his wife started a hot rod garage on Marcy’s family farm in Helix, Oregon 35 years ago. Since then, their garage has become an oasis to hot rod fanatics in the area despite being 20 miles away from the nearest town.
Holton turned this into a full-time career, but his favorite would be his yellow Willys Jeep pickup. He started working on the truck in 2003 and since then, has spent $150,000 of modifications to convert it into its current form.
The extent of the exterior modifications is aplenty but most notable of which would be the extended fender flares that made the truck visibly wider. Underneath the body, Holton employed a modified chassis, plus a modern suspension setup and a lowered stance.
The 3,250-pound (1,474-kilogram) modified truck is a bit of a Frankenstein project, though. The flame-decorated hood came from a ’68 Camaro, while the bucket seats are from a Wrangler. And of course, the Ford V8 underneath the metal sheet. The Ford 302 engine has been tuned to produce over 350 hp, enabling it to reach a top speed of 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). And yes, it has a line-lock, so burnouts are possible.
Beyond the aesthetics and the bulk of upgrades on the truck, Holton believes that its engine is its heart and soul.
“If the engine in this car was more tame, milder, it wouldn’t be as much fun!” he added.