Zach Canadas spent $200 on a 1968 Jeep Wagoneer tub without any axles or transfer case. His pair of Ben Franklins scored him, however, a Buick 350, transmission, and a pre-smog title—just enough to get his project off to a start. We met Zach outside the 2020 King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California, where we were introduced to Sally Wag, his 1968 Jeep Wagoneer.
Zach brought the Buick 350 back to life but soon decided that the TBI Chevy 350 and 700R4 transmission in one of his donor trucks would better suit the Wagoneer, so he swapped them in. Also on the to-do list was a home-built NP203/205 doubler, which came together with help from Clayton at Cushman Customs. Zach wheeled for a while with a pair of Chevy one-ton axles, a three-link suspension setup, Rancho RS9000 shocks, 63-inch leaf springs, and 38-inch Toyo mud-terrains, but he found himself spending too much repairing damage to the Wagoneer’s frame. Solution? Zach boxed the frame and rebuilt the rear framerails with rectangular tubing.
Rollovers and Rebuilding
“Every year I picked something to upgrade,” Zach told us, which included changing his welded 4.10 gears to 5.13s with Yukon Zip and Grizzly lockers, adding Artec high-steer arms to his frontend, and porting a steering box to use with his RedNeck ram-assist. Just when Zach had Sally Wag working flawlessly, a trail ride turned sideways when he rolled the Wagoneer onto its passenger side. The cab and windshield sustained some damage with only scratches dealt to Zach’s ego. Using every piece of heavy machinery and power equipment he could wrangle, Zach managed to straighten out the damage to the cab. He then added storage and protection to Sally Wag with a rollcage/roof rack combo that tied into the rig’s frame, rock sliders, fenders, and bumpers. In exchange for help with an engine rebuild, Zach’s good friend offered to give Sally Wag some new paint and overdelivered on his promise. “Tim went over the top and made a rumpled Jeep into something beautiful,” said Zach about the Wagoneer’s new orange and black paintjob.
To get the ride tuned exactly how he wanted it, Zach installed ADS coilovers on the frontend and 9-inch ADS air shocks out back, allowing him some adjustability when Sally Wag is loaded down with gear for a longer off-road trip. Though we met Zach in the Mojave Desert, his wheeling expeditions have taken him everywhere from the slickrock trails of Moab to the boulder-littered Fordyce and Rubicon trails. Zach went on to tell us about the 31-Inch Tire Run, a gathering of hard-core off-roaders who pull the large meats from their rigs for a weekend and run a famous trail on nothing but 31-inch tires, some participants even electing to run dualies at each corner.
Zach’s Chevy TBI 350 V-8 is bored 0.10 over and is helped out by an RV cam, Edelbrock intake, injectors donated by a police cruiser, and Flowtech headers. An onboard welder is there for any trail repairs, and the compressor from a semi truck handles the compressed air supply for Sally Wag. Zach also runs a pair of Optima batteries. Power flows into a 700R4 transmission with low-stall and Alto Red internals.
Zach wheeled the 1968 Jeep Wagoneer with an NP203/205 setup until he needed more gear reduction. A combination of a NorthWest Fab BlackBox and twin-stick NP205 transfer case gave him 1:1, 2:1, 2.72:1, and 5.44:1 reduction ratios to choose from. High Angle driveline handles power output to the frontend while Zach’s custom-built rear driveshaft delivers power to the rear axle.
Wheels and Tires
Pit Bull Rockers in the 41.5-inch variety handle relations with the ground below while 17-inch Raceline beadlocks keep a hold on the rubber into single-digit pressures.
The Chevy Dana 60 up front is filled with 5.13:1 gears and a Yukon Zip locker and chromo shafts and 35-spline hubs. The three-link suspension is custom-fabbed with ADS 2.0 14-inch coilovers to handle the bumps. PSC is the name on the hydraulic ram setup, and Ballistic Fab keeps the differential’s internals safe.
The GMC 14-bolt out back is shaved for additional clearance, houses a Grizzly locker and 5.13 gears, and the Ballistic Fab differential cover shields the gears from damage. Leaf springs measuring 63 inches hold up Sally Wag’s rear while ADS 9-inch shocks handle the damping. The rear bumper is tied into the frame and fender flares and holds a swinging fullsize spare tire carrier and dual jerry cans.
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