You know that old saying about pictures being worth 1,000 words? We tend to agree with that saying, especially when it comes to this particular 4×4. Edward Wallace has spent a lot of time, energy, blood, sweat and tears to create a pretty unique rig. Just check out some of the pictures, and you can tell that this is one build that people take notice of.
Everything about this Grand Cherokee is unique, including the interesting substitute for limiting straps – metal chain. Ed smiled as he explained that he initially installed the chains because he wasn’t sure of the specific length that he would need. He said, “If I need more length at any point then I can just add another link!” This kind of simplistic problem solving is a great example of how Ed approached his build.
The story behind Ed’s purchase of the Grand Cherokee is a doozy. As he stated, “I bought this Jeep bone stock for $350 with a broken front axle. We put a small lift and some small tires on it to take it off-road for a weekend. From there, when we broke things, we would upgrade, and after I put a second lift on it, dented some body panels, and broke some more things, I decided I would stop wheeling it and upgrade everything I saw as a weak point.”
At that point, a labor of love began. Ed admitted, “I really fell in love with it. Being known for doing a cool build and going places other people can’t is just cool to me.” So into the garage it went. Over the course of the next 14 months, the stock Grand Cherokee was transformed into the full-metal-caged monster you see here.
One-ton axles, long-arm suspension, a cage, and reinforced rocker panels were added. When we asked Ed why he chose a vehicle without a dedicated frame, he replied logically that, “I got it for $350, and that is what I had at the time.” The simplicity reminded us that sometimes, it’s just about what you have available; and that if you are willing to put in some blood, sweat, and tears, you can make just about anything work.
Ed estimates that the total build process took a year and two months. This included several nights out in the garage after work or missed hangouts with the guys. Much of the time was devoted to learning the ropes, taking measurements with a tape measure in his garage, and using the “Mk. I eyeball” for the extensive fabrication work. Ed commented, “I didn’t have any fancy computers or software that could do simulations or stuff like that before production.”
“I had to actually do the labor, then see if it works, and then maybe change something, which meant even more labor,” he continued. “Sometimes, I would even scrap a whole idea because it wasn’t going to work.” A lesser-motivated person may have taken those setbacks as a reason to throw in the towel, but Ed has a pretty contagious no quit mindset as well as a dedicated work ethic.
Ed admitted, “There were a lot of times when we would have family or friends over and they would all be hanging out and I would be under the Jeep welding or something. I calculated the amount of time that I have into it at one point and I figured that it’s about a thousand hours of labor.”
We see a lot of builds during the course of doing this job, and one thing we can tell you for sure is that a willingness to do hard work and put in time on a build will outperform fabrication talent any day of the week. Sometimes it’s just about being focused and willing to make a project a priority.
With that being said, though, we all have a lot of other things going on in our lives. Work, family, hobbies, finances, and friends are all priorities and managing all of those things at the same time can be a challenge for anyone. For Ed, his family will admit that they love the notoriety of having such a unique rig, but there are moments when the level of time and financial commitment to this build can be a bit much for them. As many of us are sure to relate, when the priority for time and even finances is a project vehicle and not some other family need, then there is inevitably going to occasionally be a bit of friction. Some people might even go on to say that you may have your priorities mixed up. We have had that discussion with the people in our lives before and we’re willing to bet that you have too.
Ed said, “Sometimes they’ll say something like ‘How much more time are you going to spend on that stupid Jeep?’ Then it’ll be on the cover of a magazine or win best of show during the 2018 Toledo Jeep Fest, and then I’ll just be like, ‘Is it a stupid Jeep now?’ There’s been some touch and go, but there are definitely times when they are really into it.” Like a lot of things in life, this hobby definitely has its ups and downs.
However, one thing we can all agree on is that probably one of the best things about off-roading is that you do it with great friends and your family. Ed joined his local Jeep club, the Glass City Crawlers, shortly after finishing the build and now spends a lot of his spare time exploring trails in the tristate areas surrounding northwest Ohio.
His family is along for the ride as they travel to places like Haspin Acres in Indiana, Bundy Hill Off Road in Michigan, and Wellsville Off Road in Ohio. Ed smiled and laughed, describing the looks he gets from people on the road as he trailers his rig from place to place. It’s clear that he enjoys the community aspect of having a vehicle like this just as much as he enjoys the ability to wheel in new areas of the country.
A project is almost never done. There’s always some additional item or change that you will want to make as you progress through your wheeling life. Sometimes you change the terrain you’re in and have to adjust. For others, the change is an increase in family size or a need for some creature comforts as the years go by.
Ed sees a new rear suspension with even more travel and fully hydraulic steering system as his next main tasks coming up. No matter what happens next, we have no doubt that Ed will be on the trails every chance he gets. This is one guy that epitomizes having a positive attitude and a willingness to put in hard work to accomplish his goals. Those are a couple of things that we always value and it’ll be fun to see what he comes up with in the future.