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Episode Transcript

(Marc)>> You're watching Powernation.

(Marc)>> Today on Music City Trucks... We take some liberties with one performance beast to come up with our own ground pounding s-u-v. [engine revving] With what we've got in store, there's a lot to do to make this one bad ripper. [engine revving] [tires squealing] ♪ ♪ [engine revving] ♪ ♪ 707 horsepower. All-wheel drive. 0 to 60 in 3 seconds flat, on the street. This thing is a complete animal. I can not say enough good things about the Trackhawk. [engine revving] I had a lot of fun in many vehicles over the years but never had as much fun, on the street, in a stock production vehicle, as I have with this. And says a lot, considering it's a big heavy s-u-v. Now, we could pick one of these up for the shop, but I think this thing is perfect the way it is. We could do bolt ons, the 85 swap, make 900 at the tires, but people are already doing that to these. Instead of us getting our own Trackhawk, we want to use this, to inspire our newest build.

(Brandon)>> Ladies and Gentleman... introducing... the Trashhawk.

(Marc)>> This is a 1986 Jeep Wagoneer. Not a Grand Wagoneer. It's based on the x-j platform, just as the Cherokees were from 1983 to 2001. This one is just a little fancier.

(Brandon)>> This one came equipped with factory vinyl wrapped wood grain, 4 headlights, even came with a set of fog lights. That's where it all stops. Doesn't have 707 horsepower. Not all wheel drive. No a-b-s, no warranty, not reliable, list goes on and on. The only thing it does have is the 2,000 dollar price tag.

(Marc)>> Which I like! We could pick everything out of this or even one that's been rolled over and put into our jeep. But at what point do you just buy one of these? We really need to take what the essence of a Trackhawk is and inject that into our jeep. What do we need to do that Brandon?

(Brandon)>> Well it needs to be v-8. Needs to be supercharged.

(Marc)>> Got to have the whine.

(Brandon)>> Got to have that whine. And it needs to make at least 707 horsepower.

(Marc)>> Ok that's enough! If we can accomplish all of that, we got our hands full. Now before we dig into this thing and start taking it apart, let's look at what we're starting with. We said we picked this thing up for pretty cheap, 2 grand. Well, the reason is... because it's got the 2.8 liter v-6 under the hood, but not only that... the crankshaft is broken. This is basically a pretty nice roller. One thing I noticed right off the bat though, it's a small engine bay. That's a bit of a concern for me.

(Brandon)>> Well... the one good things is, they put the straight sixes in these trucks. So, you don't have length, but the width is going to be the problem. Might have to pull the zaw saw and grinder out. But we got to make sure that we put all the strength back, because it is a unibody. That's one of the big concerns.

(Marc)>> We can figure that out. Engine bay, we'll get there. Let's talk about my favorite part of this vehicle. I love this interior. Brandon, how about leather and corduroy.

(Brandon)>> It's the continuing wood grain for me.

(Marc)>> And it's in good shape too for 35 years old, you can tell this vehicle was really well cared for.

(Brandon)>> It's all original and nothing's been cut up.

(Marc)>> That's probably the best part. You think the front seats look good, wait until you see the back.

This thing looks like it's never even been sat in. Look at that leather.

(Brandon)>> Seating for 5 and check this out... all this room, you could start a family in here.

(Marc)>> Let's just get it in the air and see what's going on underneath. [lift humming]

(Brandon)>> XJ's are unibodies and this one has been taken care of, pretty good. Someone undercoated it before to stop a lot of corrosion.

(Marc)>> Yeah but... just because they took care of it, doesn't mean that it's going to handle on the power we're going to throw at it.

(Brandon)>> No! Especially the Dana 30.

(Marc)>> I mean... that thing is super puny. Look at this drive shaft. It is no thicker than my thumb.

(Brandon)>> Yeah! That's puny.

(Marc)>> We put steering shafts on trucks bigger than that. Transmission transfer case.

(Brandon)>> Junk!

(Marc)>> Same thing exactly. Moving on to the rear.

(Brandon)>> Fuel system. It's not going to handle 700 horsepower. Dana 35? Not going to handle it. We just need to start draining some fluids, getting some things out of here.

(Brandon)>> Let's tear it apart.

(Marc)>> Let's do it.

(Brandon)>> Up next...

(Marc)>> Send it, to the scrap bin. It's time to figure out just the right engine.

(Brandon)>> The unibody and the firewall, where they meet, that's the strongest point on that truck. And if you start cutting that up...

(Marc)>> I have an idea. Meet me at the truck.

(Marc)>> Well, we're plugging away on our Jeep Wagoneer here, we've got everything underneath disconnected, that would be the drive shafts, exhaust, all the plumbing and linkage. And we even got the transfer case, sitting there on the cart.

(Brandon)>> Everything underneath the hood has been taken apart. Radiator's gone, all the hoses and wiring, even got the transmission on a jack right now. The only thing left, is the 2 bolts and this thing is coming out. [jack humming] We're not sure what we're going to use yet, but we know what we're not going to use. So, out it comes. [hose hissing]

(Marc)>> These engine mounts and brackets, obviously all that's going to have to go. But let's just take a measurement across the narrowest part and see what we're working with. You can do the back of the bracket. ♪ ♪

(Brandon)>> That's 23 and 3/4 on the back of my bracket.

(Marc)>> Hey Brandon! Catch!

(Brandon)>> Oh man! LS.

(Marc)>> Well yeah! What's wrong with that? Look at that.

(Brandon)>> I mean... it does fit. I hate to be those guys who put LS in everything, but there's a reason... it's a small package with a lot of potential.

(Marc)>> We've got our engine mounted in place and that is a big relief. We still need to figure out our transmission here but, there looks like there's a lot of room. What is going to be a concern, is where the shifter is going to land. This vehicle was an automatic and we removed the shifter and it was like this big shifter assembly. It left this big hole in the floor here. And that's where our shifter really needs to land, that's going to be the most comfortable for the driver. So, there's only one way to find out and get a measurement and figure out where it is. And the center of this hole is actually 23 and about a 1/4. So, let's see what it's like here. 27.

(Brandon)>> That's a little long, but these shifters are reversable. That might get us pretty close.

(Marc)>> If it flips around 180, that's going to be like within a quarter of an inch.

(Brandon)>> Let's try it. ♪ ♪

(Marc)>> That's the great thing about these aftermarket transmissions, there's different shifter configurations, which work in a wide range of applications. Oh! Look at that! ♪ ♪ 23 and 1 quarter. To the center of the hole.

(Brandon)>> You can't get any better than that. [drill popping] Might have to take that bracket off. Keep going. Right there! You're touching.

(Marc)>> It's hitting that bracket.

(Brandon)>> Even though the transmission fits in the tunnel, we want to make sure that there's enough clearance for when the drive train is under load.

(Marc)>> Looks good this time. Let me change the angle just a little bit. Can you swing the rear? Is that where the boot's hitting?

(Brandon)>> I think if we just cut that floor pan open just a little bit more.

(Marc)>> It's like right there.

(Brandon)>> Just like that? [saw cutting] ♪ ♪

(Marc)>> Alright! Right there. That's close. ♪ ♪

(Brandon)>> We're not hitting the floor any more.

(Marc)>> That's good.

(Brandon)>> Before I make my own, I want to see if this original cross member is going to work for us. [metal clicking] [drill popping] Dude! That cross member actually works pretty good.

(Marc)>> Yeah! You've got enough room here and what's nice, we'll be able to run our exhaust above it.

(Brandon)>> All we have to do is make a little pedestal for the trans mount.

(Marc)>> The factory one was similar but, we could either bolt it in or just weld it on there with an offset pedestal.

(Brandon)>> I think just weld off a new pedestal.

(Marc)>> For now, do you want to just, since this is where we want to set it, do you just want to set something in here for now? That way we can get the transmission jack out go back up top.

(Brandon)>> Yeah! I think a 2x4 will sit here.

(Marc)>> Go ahead!

(Brandon)>> Good? Special delivery.

(Marc)>> Oh look at that. That's going to make the power.

(Brandon)>> You want to throw it on?

(Marc)>> Yeah! Let's do it. ♪ ♪ Let me slide back a little bit. Right there. Wow!

(Brandon)>> I think the hood's going to close.

(Marc)>> Only one way to find out. Let's give this thing a try. I think it's going to close. [hood closing] Oh yeah! And with room to spare too. Brandon, how's the shifter location?

(Brandon)>> Vroom! Vroom!

(Marc)>> Brandon! Hey! How's the shifter?

(Brandon)>> It's awesome. It fits in the same hole, I think the whole interior is going to go back the same.

(Marc)>> Perfect! We're well on our way then.

(Brandon)>> This is too much fun though. Vroom! Vroom!

(Marc)>> Coming up... it's a whole new suspension for Trashhawk.

(Brandon)>> And the ride height gets dialed in.

(Brandon)>> Well, here's the axle that we picked up from a junk yard, for a couple hundred bucks. It's out of a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 2-wheel drive. It's got all the mounting provisions exactly the same as ours, except, it's 2-wheel drive. So, it doesn't have any of the center section or axles, just a blank tube in here. Since it's a coil spring setup, and we are going to lower this truck. We figured... we'd just buy some lowering springs, but lo and behold. We couldn't find any. But as you can image, there's a ton of 4 wheel drive stuff available. So, that's where we turned. There's a couple of things that we needed, when we ordered a coil spring for the front of this vehicle. One... we need a static rate. And also we needed something that's going to be a high enough of a rate to handle the extra weight we're adding to our XJ here. Seeing that we're switching from a 6 cylinder to an 8 cylinder. And we can accomplish that with this set of coil springs that we got from Summit Racing. These are for a lifted vehicle. So, the only drawback is... they're actually taller and they're going to compress less than the factory springs would. But it's nothing that a little cutting won't fix. We'll just cut a couple of coils out of there. Notice we're using a cutoff wheel to cut our springs shorter. You never want to use a torch to either heat up and lower the spring, or to torch it off. Because, if you heat up the spring too much, it's going to sacrifice the integrity and that could cause a failure. With the control arms in place, I can go ahead and get my cut springs in here. We are going to have to order some shorter shocks later, but we'll get to that. I could go ahead and get this thing installed, but remember I mentioned that breakup grid earlier? I want to go ahead and show you how to do that now, while I've got this axle sitting here on the stand. Let's start with the rotor. This is an 11 inch. This is standard on all XJ's. We're going to switch to this 12-inch rotor. It has the same lug pattern, the 5 on 4 ½. But this is from a 2002 Explorer Sport Trac. As far as the caliper goes, the single piston calipers that come on all XJ's are pretty puny. You can see here, compared to this dual piston caliper, from a '90 to '04 Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a WJ jeep. This is quite a big upgrade. But in order to get that stuff to work, well, we need the spindles or the knuckles from that WJ. And that's what this is here. We got these from a junk yard, a couple hundred bucks. You can even but the whole axle for that cheap. But that's not just going to attach right to our XJ axle. We actually have to upgrade the ball joint a little bit, get those pressed out. Get the new ones in and we can get all this stuff bolted on. [drill popping] We're going to replace both the upper and lower ball joints. The uppers will get replace with factory XJ joints, while the lowers get replaced with longer WJ joint, to match the knuckle. Now it's time to assemble the hubs. We're using XJ hub assemblies with a 1/4 inch spacer that we had made by Jimmy down in Carcass. ♪ ♪ The purpose of the spacer is to make sure the rotor and caliper are aligned properly. [metal clicking] And then we're home free to install the bracket. ♪ ♪ Pads. ♪ ♪ And caliper. ♪ ♪ And we got us a d-i-y big brake kit. ♪ ♪ Very nice! ♪ ♪ Well, we've got our brake upgrade all done except for the hose, but that's easy enough. And we got our axle installed. It's hanging from the original shocks, which we'll need to order some shorter ones later. But we have to get it set at ride height and we can't do that until we get the engine and transmission in along with that rear end swap. And all that is coming up.

(Brandon)>> Alright! I'm pretty eager to get this Ford 8.8 under Trashhawk, but before we can do that, I got to take all the old suspension out. And that's going to start with these old shocks. [drill popping] By the looks of it, the underside has seen a lot more salt than we originally thought. Since we're swapping the axle, I'm just going to cut the u-bolts. [metal clanging] I'm going to go ahead and take off the old shocks and the original sway bar, to make room for our 8.8. ♪ ♪ Now the Ford 8.8 is the most common swap into any jeep and they make a bunch of kits. We got this one from Summit Racing. It comes with everything you need. It's got the perches, the u-bolt, the bagging plates, even has the shock mounts. Now, these kits are built with the off road in mind, and they bolt up on the bottom side of the leaf. Now, we're going to repurpose this kit for a flip kit and put it on the top of the leaf, like that. And that's going to give us the 6-icnh drop that we want. And it's going to have that mean look, with a strong axle. And we don't have to reinvent the wheel of doing it. [lift humming] [metal clicking]

(Marc)>> Well, it's off the dyno and in our hands.

(Brandon)>> Now since we're building a Trackhawk knockoff, we had to have at least 707 horsepower. And the guys at Engine Power... well, they blew it away with 785 horsepower. Which is massive.

(Marc)>> That's a huge number. And there's nothing wrong with a little extra horsepower right?

(Brandon)>> No!

(Marc)>> Now, all we need to do is get this thing in Trashhawk. ♪ ♪ You good?

(Brandon)>> Yep! [metal clanking]

(Marc)>> You know, when this project was just a sketch on a napkin, we didn't expect the bigger pieces to fall together quite so easily.

(Brandon)>> We thought we had to at least pull the dash and the carpet and modify the firewall.

(Marc)>> But hey! We'll take it. Oh yeah! Look at that.

(Brandon)>> Like a glove.

(Marc)>> Well, this project's getting real. We've got an almost 800 horsepower, supercharged LS under the hood now. A 6-speed manual gear box. We did a swap on the rear with a flip and we even put a 2-wheel drive front axle here, with bigger brakes.

(Brandon)>> We also lowered the truck about 4 inches after correcting the rear ride height.

(Marc)>> We've got some wheels and tires on order. So, it's even going to get lower, once we get those on there. Can't wait to show you it on the ground on those. ♪ ♪

(Brandon)>> Up next... it's hot laps. And hotter burnouts. [tires squealing]

(Brandon)>> Alright! We got Trashhawk all buttoned up and we're down here at Engine Power, on the dyno to see how much power it makes. Because this is a trashy version of a Trackhawk. One of our requirements was 707 at least horsepower.

(Pat)>> Well we did that on the dyno. Made 787 so we beat it by 80. These things will have about a 15 percent driveline loss with a manual transmission. So, it will be interesting to see what it does. This thing is spectacular. It's one of my favorite builds, you guys have done.

(Brandon)>> I appreciate you guys saying that, cause you guys are about the first people to see this. [engine starting] [engine revving]

(Pat)>> 652.

(Marc)>> 6-5-2?

(Frankie)>> 652 and 601 pound feet.

(Pat)>> 601.97 pound feet. That's meaner that I thought it was going to be through that exhaust. I expected it to be a little less, to be honest with you. Dude! I am almost speechless on this one because it's so cool.

(Frankie)>> This thing is so sweet.

(Pat)>> I want to see it run and now... you're going to go run it.

(Marc)>> As much as I'd love to sit here and just make pulls all day, we got to go drive this thing. Well, we are here at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green Kentucky and what better place to take Trashhawk out and see what it can do. [engine revving] Lots of power man. Steering is not as positive as I would want it to be, but this thing is straight up animal.

(Brandon)>> Dude! This thing feels stable.

(Marc)>> It is. [engine revving] But you know what? Overall, this thing is mind boggling fast.

(Brandon)>> Everything on this truck, even the lower straight axle, I never thought it was going to handle like this.

(Marc)>> Now that I've gotten the car shaken down quite a bit, I feel comfortable going out and making some hot laps. So, I'm going to get my brain bucket here.

(Brandon)>> I'm just going to go up in the crows' nest and watch.

(Marc)>> I'm going to see what she'll do. [engine revving]

(Brandon)>> What a ripper. ♪ ♪

(Marc)>> When I dreamed up this concept of using a XJ to build a Trackhawk knockoff, I never dreamed it would turn out to be such a cool and impressive truck. It's a counterfeit and a poor one at that. It's powered by a LS not a Hemi. It's a manual instead of a zippy modern auto and it's rear wheel drive. A huge difference from the all-wheel drive Trackhawk. But it just works. It handles like a sportscar. It's got a ton of grip. Plenty of braking and accelerates coming out of the turns like a banshee. It's a little sketchy but in a way, that makes it more fun to drive. Is it a Trackhawk? No! But it's better in so many ways. Plus, just looks cool. Ok! So now it's your turn.

(Brandon)>> I'm going to grab my helmet.

(Marc)>> Have fun.

(Brandon)>> This truck's awesome!

(Marc)>> Yes it is.

(Brandon)>> This is the first time driving this thing.

(Marc)>> Be safe out there. [engine revving] When he comes back, he is going to have a permanent smile on his face.

(Brandon)>> Finally, it's my turn to take the wheel of Trashhawk and see what she can do. Woo! Oh my god! This thing's a handful. This thing is awesome! Wow! This is like nothing I've ever driven. The way this handles is...

There's no explaining this. You have to drive this. The pedal?

(Marc)>> So, the one comment that I had, when I was driving it, was... if you blindfolded me and you out me in here, and then you cut a hole in the windshield and all I could see was what was in front of me, I would never in a million years guess... that I was driving a jeep.

(Brandon)>> No!

(Marc)>> Any jeep. It doesn't even matter. It's a jeep.

(Brandon)>> I would be able to tell that it's probably a little bit heavier than or a different shape than a car. This has probably been the best day at work ever.

(Marc)>> Mission accomplished! Alright dude! Onto the next one. Get this thing out of here, get it back to the shop. Put a for sale sign on it. Start building something else cool. But before we go... [tires squealing]
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