Introducing...Project Cross Trainer
By Cole Ford
Cross Trainer is going to be an exercise in building a practical,
yet very capable Jeep TJ. Stay tuned over the following
months as we introduce you to Cole Ford and his Project
Cross Trainer. We'll be building up this totally stock TJ
into something that Cole can use on the street daily, but
can be at home on most any trail in the US.
A great Jeep is not unlike an artist's masterpiece!
I am sure that
when you look around your town, in magazines and on the web you have
seen every variation of Jeep imaginable. That's because there are
as many ways to build a Jeep as there are ways to paint a picture.
Each Jeep is a blank canvas on which to create your dream. One of
the things that makes Jeeps so darn cool is that everyone's dream
is different. I know a guy that would never own a Jeep any color but
bright yellow, while there are some of us out there that would never
own anything that color. OK, so I think you get the point.
Photo Courtesy of Claudine Cauori
Over the last
several years, I have noticed a trend among Jeepers on the trail.
I ask them about their Jeep and the modifications that they have
done to see if it is something I would like to do. Almost every
one of them has made a mistake in the building of their Jeep that
they wish they had not done. I have done the same thing in the many
Jeeps I have built. It is usually a case that someone convinced
them that to have better trail performance they had to live with
worse street performance. Now at the extreme ends of the Trail Performance
vs. Street Performance spectrum this would hold to be true. With
the latest generation of Jeep Wrangler at hand, I believe that it
is possible to build a creature that is capable of running some
hard core trails and commuting to work too.
Jeep is our canvas!
We have decided
to create a Jeep that is as hard core as possible while still maintaining
as much of the street characteristics as possible. In order to do
this we needed to select our canvas and imagine what we wanted
it to look like when the masterpiece was complete. The canvas we
chose is a 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sahara with all the bells and whistles;
air conditioning, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, hard top, etc..
The ultimate goal is to have a Jeep that meets several criteria
for street and trail use.
the street, it must maintain drivability and comfort for almost
anyone who gets in to drive it. This means that if you toss the
keys to your buddy's girlfriend you should not have to give her
any special directions on how to handle the Jeep. It should still
drive well in conditions like snow, mountain passes, freeway, parking
certain modifications will change the handling characteristics of
the Jeep and the ability to toss the keys to just anyone. We are
willing to make certain sacrifices to gain the trail use that we
desire. The goal is to make a Jeep that can be driven on just about
every trail out there, short of a Rockcrawling Championship. Remember,
this is not a competition rig. In the real world of the weekend
rockcrawler, you can back up and change your line without sacrificing
artist formerly know as
As the Jeep
has evolved, so has my taste for what a Jeep should be. Over the
years, I have owned too many Jeeps to count. Old ones, new ones,
even blue ones. I have had nearly every version of the two-door
convertible Jeep. On my last two Wranglers, I racked up over half
a million miles. I have bolted on, welded, cut off and darn near
rebuilt every part you can think of on a Jeep. I have made some
mistakes and learned some pretty cool tricks along the way.
like any Jeeper, my love for motor sports goes farther than just
Jeeps. I have taught performance driving for many years and remain
involved in auto and motorcycle racing whenever I am not playing
with the Jeep. Now, finally, I have found myself hanging with the
Geckos, one of the most competitive rockcrawling teams on the planet.
All of this
background should make for some interesting viewpoints in creating
the project "Cross Trainer". It is exactly that too, designed
to be able to do a bit of everything. Follow along as we build the
Jeep to its glory. You can look forward to real world building for
the modern Jeeper with facts that are relevant to what you really
want to know.