FAN FRIDAY FEATURED BUILD BY STUART GRAHAM
Come one come all and check out Stuart’s labor of love. He knew what he wanted, knew the obstacles he would encounter and he forged ahead and quite literally made what he needed at times and truly made this build his own. Caps off ladies and gentlemen to Stuart.
Wild Willy M38 Restomod
Build Comments from Stuart:
I’ve always liked the original Tamiya Wild Willy M38 that was released in the 80s. I wasn’t able to get one as a kid, but I do now have an original box-art shelf queen I purchased several years ago. After I got that one, I really wanted to run one of these older wheelie rigs and enjoy it. So I purchased several M38 wrecks off EBay with the goal of building a runner that I wouldn’t be scared to break.
Finding parts for these old M38s can be pretty tough. Tires are one of the hardest parts to get. The original wheels are an odd size and the tires were never re-released. The Blazing Blazer and Wild Willy used the same rubber – and original tires fetch a high price on auction sites. Often the tires you find are very dry and cracked. So, in FreeCAD I designed a 2-piece 1.9″ wheel to fit the vintage axles. I wanted something I could use to run modern tires. I printed them through Shapeways. My final tire choice for the build was the GMADE MT-1902. I really like the look – and the size is similar to the original tire size. I’ve tried a bunch of other tires on the new wheels with success – and the original sand tires even stretch to fit on them. I throw a set of RC4WD DUKW military tires on those when I run them.
While I worked on restoring/building the old M38, I ran it – and I broke numerous parts. Old brittle plastic suspension parts crack easily under strain. So, I designed hop-up parts for the chassis and 3D printed and replaced broken parts as needed with newer heavy-duty parts. I decided to relocate the winch under the grille so you could see more of the classic Jeep front-end. After a bit of run time, I also designed adapters to run some narrower rims I bought online. This gets the rig pretty close to the look of a Willy Jeep CJ2A I owned in college.
I also designed and printed a series of mods to slightly alter the look of the rig:
- new headlights with mounts for military style headlight guards
- a CJ2A-style square windshield and new hinges
- a new “basher” bumper
- a new chassis front bulkhead