Hot Rod Willys-Jeep: The Ultimate Canyon Carver
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.”