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Introducing Project Cross Trainer

ROCKCRAWLER.com
Introducing...Project Cross Trainer

By Cole Ford

Project 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!
Cole Ford
Photo Courtesy of Claudine Cauori

Project Cross Trainer :
Cole Made the Cover!
- Avalanche Rock Rings
- Tuffy Security Products
- Rhino Lining
- O-R Fab Sport Cage
- Dunlop Mud Rovers/Ultra Wheel
- Cross Trainer on the Cover!
- Custom Metal Manufacturing Front Bumper
- Superlift Rock Runner Suspension
- JB Conversions SYE Kit with Tom Wood Drive Shaft
- Four X Doctor Rocker Guards
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.

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.

Cole FordThe 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.

 

Cole FordFor 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 lots, etc..

Now, obviously, 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 your score.

The 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.

Cole Ford / Team PhatJust 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.

Cole

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