-RME Interview with Bart Jacobs-
RME- What's the story behind your rig?
Bart- I’ve had some amazing buggies and was lucky enough to compete for 8 years against the very best in the world in the early days of rock crawling, and as a result I was able to do the most extreme courses, runs, and trails available at the time. After quitting the comp scene I got into a pattern of bouncing from buggies to Jeeps, one after another for a long time, because I would get bored.
After bouncing between 3 Jeeps and 2 buggies in a 9 year span I arrived at the conclusion that there is no perfect rig and also had to come to grips that I couldn’t afford to have both. I decided that I had done plenty of extreme trails and competitions and could probably live without the adrenaline rush they provided. I still wanted a rig that could do 99% of the trails out there and would sacrifice doing the extreme buggy runs for a more comfortable ride. I still wanted to be able to do trails like the Hammers, Coyote Canyon, and Upper Helldorado, but would forgo runs like Black Flag and Britney Spears.
By providing more comfort I could also persuade my wife into joining me on runs like the Rubicon and Silverton/Ouray. Another goal was to be able to drive my Jeep around Moab and to and from each trail, making it possible to do an extended run like Pritchett, then exit through Hunter Canyon up to White Knuckle and out Behind the Rocks, and then drive 191 back to Moab.
RME- Why this Jeep?
Bart- This Jeep had come up for sale 5 years before I bought it and I almost traded a lightly built TJ for it at that time. It had some good parts and mods to it, but lacked a substantial amount of finish work and technology to make it reliable, comfortable, and capable. The big plus factor was that the tub and frame had already been stretched, and after stretching 2 TJs and knowing the work involved, having most of that being done was a bonus.
I passed on it then, but after building that TJ, then selling it and buying the Ranger buggy and running it a couple of years I decided I wanted to go in a new direction which I previously described. When I started looking again I noticed this Jeep was back up for sale again and the price had dropped substantially. At that price point I could afford to make some much needed improvements and turn this into something special.
RME- What was your goal and have you met it?
Bart- The overall goal was to have a stretched, full bodied, street legal(ish), dependable Jeep with the ability of driving down the freeway, yet capable of doing 99% of the trails out there, including the Hammers. I have done Coyote Canyon and run Pritchett/Hunter Canyon to White Knuckle and then drove pavement on 191 back to Moab several times. I still can’t do 70 mph yet, but that is mostly a balancing issue with 40” tires. My wife has also joined me on multiple runs so that is a win no matter what else happens.
RME- If you did it over again, would you do anything different?
Bart- It seems there is always something different and better I could have done, but there is still plenty of things to do on this Jeep that are in the plans.
RME- What is your favorite feature?
Bart- The CJ front clip and stretched body really accomplishes the look and vibe I was going for, and also confuses the crap out of people. They don’t know if it’s a Scrambler or what.
RME- Considering your rig, what's your favorite trail these days?
Bart- This is definitely a tossup between Coyote Canyon in Moab and the Maze in Sand Hollow.
RME- How has your rig influenced your lifestyle?
Bart- It made me grudgingly accept the limitations of not wheeling a buggy, but allowed me to own a capable, more diverse, family oriented rig that was comfortable to drive and met most of my needs. The Jeep has also given me a reliable platform to give back to the wheeling community, by leading and gunning trails at events like Easter Jeep Safari, Trail Hero, and Winter 4x4 Jamboree.
Engine– Chevy TBI 350, rebuilt in January 2018
Transmission– Chevy 700r4, rebuilt in January 2018
Transfer case– Atlas 3.8
Axles– Front Dodge passenger drop Dana 60 4.88 gears Detroit locker, alloy shafts and Spicer u-joints with Mile Marker hubs, Rear 14 bolt, ILean truss, 4.88 gears with Detroit. Disc brakes on all 4 corners.
Suspension– Front leaf springs with shackle reversal. Rear 4 link with FOA Coil Overs. I have a set of new 16” ORIs to install out back.
Tires/wheels– Raceline 17 x 9.5 bead locks surrounded by 40x12.50x17 DOT Maxxis Creepy Crawler's.
Steering– Stock YJ box drilled and ported with hydro assist and 2” x 8” Trail Gear ram with high steer
Protection– Full custom built roll cage with double B pillar, belly skid, rockers, crappy stock fuel tank skid, front tube fenders, and full rear 5/16s quarters that are too heavy
Bumpers– Front stubby bumper with integrated spring mounts. Rear Smitty Built with receiver. Too big and heavy but needed to pull my flat deck around.
Other interesting facts-
111’ wheelbase, Warn 9000i winch, ARB double pump compressor, rock lights, CB, recently painted Jeep Dune.
The Jeep unexpectedly made the cover of the September 2016 Petersen’s 4 Wheel and Off-Road that featured the 50th anniversary of Easter Jeep Safari and the 75th Anniversary of Jeep.
Build a hard half cab from a wrecked TJ hardtop for winter wheeling (this Fall).
Add quick release, matching rear seat for the grandkids (this Fall).
Front 3 link with 14” ORIs, with suck down winch, and drop the front end 1 to 2 inches.
Make comfortable to drive 70 MPH on pavement.
Larger gas tank moved up with better protection.
Maybe add air conditioning down the road.
I want this to eventually ride and drive like a well-built LJ so I can do the Relic Run without the need of a tow rig.
RME- Barts Jeep when purchased;
RME- As a work in progress;
RME- Tell us about the cover shot on Petersons 4Wheel & Off-Road!
Bart- That was an interesting morning when it happened. It was on the Wednesday of EJS 2016 and my first day of not having trails to lead or gun that week. I decided to stay back in town to work on the Jeep a bit and headed to Potato Salad Hill about noon to test the tweaks. It was fairly dead with a few rigs heading in and out as they do at that time of day. I climbed it a couple of times on different lines and everything seemed good. I then attempted a steep, far right line that I had done in the Willys buggy. I was almost up it when the front broke free and started to free fall to the left. I grabbed reverse and was able to save it. I backed up to the fence again to regroup and then decided I had better head back up just to calm the nerves. That time went as smooth as the first couple of climbs but I noticed a few people with cameras around. They were friendly and complimented me on the save and we shot the breeze for a bit and then I headed out.
3 months later I was talking with a guy (I forget who but an RME’er) about a TJ hood he had for sale and he asked if I had seen the new Peterson’s magazine. He is the one who sent the pic to me that I have used since then. I was totally blown away and had no idea about it. I posted it on Facebook and that was when Verne Simons replied, saying that he was the one taking pics and it was one of 1000s from EJS that week that he had submitted for the front page. I mean there was a pic of my Jeep, on Potato Salad Hill, on the cover of Petersons 4-Wheel and Off-Road, with headlines celebrating the 50th Easter Jeep Safari, along with the 75th anniversary of Jeep. It was crazy. I was blown away to say the least.
RME- After a lot of work and a fresh paint job, Barts Jeep is looking amazing these days!