Hot Rod Willys-Jeep: The Ultimate Canyon Carver

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Hoonigan drives an insane turbocharged 1946 Willys-Jeep CJ2A with a Nissan 240SX motor swap through Angeles Crest Highway.

After the end of World War II, Willys-Overland brought their famed Jeep into the civilian world with the CJ2A. The new Jeep used the same 2.2-liter L134 “Go Devil” inline-four as the famed MB, but swapped in the sturdier T-90 three-speed manual in place of the MB’s T-84 unit. The CJ2A set the stage for all Jeep CJs and Wranglers that followed, earning the nickname “America’s workhorse.”

For one man, though, his 1946 CJ2A needed something more than what the “Go Devil” could give. The result is Joel Tan’s canyon-carving runabout with a flair that puts the fear of Nissan into the hearts of Hoonigan.

1946 Willys-Jeep CJ2A

“I bought this in the Philippines when I was 17,” Tan said to Hoonigan host Larry Chen. “And nobody can build a Jeep here, really. It’s a challenge for me.”

Chen adds that Tan’s CJ2A was one of his first cars, and the build itself is inspired by the Philippines’ hot-rodding and customization scene. Tan explains Jeep enthusiasts over there go so far as to drag race Willys-Jeep MBs and CJ2As.

1946 Willys-Jeep CJ2A

Under the hood of the slammed CJ2A is a Nissan SR20DET with a stock turbo from an S13-era 240SX. The power is fed to the rear Toyo Proxes R888 tires via the rear axle of a 1982 Toyota Corolla. The suspension is from a 1969 Mustang, there’s plumbing from Home Depot in the engine bay, and the whole affair weighs around 1,200 pounds, according to Tan.

1946 Willys-Jeep CJ2A

“I’m just afraid of it,” says Chen. “It’s too fast! When it hits boost in second gear, I immediately want to shift to third gear because of how fast this thing is.”

The CJ2A was built outside of Tan’s garage, as he didn’t have a shop to work on his project. He says the neighbors were happy to see this mad Jeep start up, coming outside to bear witness to Tan’s greatness.

1946 Willys-Jeep CJ2A

“The thing is so cool,” Chen said. “I didn’t even want to drive it fast. I just wanted to enjoy it and cruise, because, honestly, I’m  scared to drive it that way. But it’s a lot of fun.”

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Since launching her professional writing career nearly a decade ago as a fashion blogger, Cameron Aubernon has written for a handful of online and print publications on a wide variety of subjects, including expat issues, fashion, music, and, of course, the automotive industry. The automotive expert was even the editor-in-chief of a popular online lifestyle publication, where she reviewed luxury cars and interviewed fellow automotive enthusiasts.

A graduate of The Evergreen State College Class of 2005 with a bachelor's in liberal arts, Aubernon took a left turn from fashion writing into the automotive realm when she asked a fellow writer via Facebook if she could write for their site. Following an internship, stints with a couple of hyper-local online publications, and a move to Seattle, she made her then-biggest impact with The Truth About Cars, writing full-time for the publication from 2013 to 2015.

Currently, the highly-regarded automotive journalist is a frequent contributor to the high-traffic Internet Brands Auto Group websites Rennlist, Club Lexus, LS1Tech and Mustang Forums, among others.

Aubernon’s expert knowledge of all things Ford trucks has also made her a mainstay as one of the most prolific writers on Ford Truck Enthusiasts and F-150 Online.

Aubernon can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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