My 1969 Wagoneer, The Firetruck


My 69 Custom Wagoneer
with 3 inch lift

So I buy this Wagoneer from a buddy awhile back. Green in color - at the time I thought that it was probably the most ugly truck I had ever seen, but somehow pretty cool looking at the same time. Kind of a "guys guy truck". The truck had been parked under an oak tree for awhile, maybe 2 years, squirrels in the engine compartment, flat front tire, lots of leaves down the air intake at the front windshield, etc. So I says to myself "self, you need a good fishing truck, something to get high up into the sierra back country" so we do the deal to make this beauty mine. After picking the truck up at my buddies house I have my girlfriend follow me home ("ewww, this thing is ugly..") and I start on the 45 minute journey home. As I get around the first corner, I realize as I step on the gas that the thing has a hideous exhaust leak, sounds like ""NASCAR Truck", children playing on the street are running for cover under mama's apron, etc. I bomb the thing home, gas gauge inop, one burnt headlight, exhaust leak stinking the inside of the truck out - but we make it. I park it proudly out front of the house, much to the dismay of my neighbors.

The next day I pop the hood, blow out the squirrel and rat droppings that reside on the intake manifold, and sure enough, ol' Mr. Heat Riser is cracked into almost 2 pieces. I'm now indoctrinated into the wonderful game of "Part, Part, Who has a part for my truck?". 15 phone calls and 3 hours later I find a guy in Michigan who has an original jeep part still in the box tucked back in a dusty corner of his dealership. He sends it out to me (sure enough, old dusty box, pretty cool!) and I make aftppt to get it into the muffler shop so that they can goof with it and my hands stay clean. Drop the truck off and pick it up later that afternoon and drive it home, once again the green wagon is parked proudly out front of my humble abode.

Fast fwd a week or three to Valentines Day. For those non californians, the winter of 98 was abit of a wet one and Valentines day was no different - the rain was pouring down. I thought "wow, great weather to take a ride in the jeep!". Hadn't had the truck out but once or twice since I'd had it fixed. But the last time I had it out, it had abit of smoke coming out from under the hood as I parked it after driving for 1/2 hour or so. "Heck, jeeps are fireproof, must be some oil leaking on the exhaust pipes" rationalized our hero in a very caviler tone. By now my girlfriend has spotted the bench seats in the front and has pronounced the truck worthy based on this fact alone. So we set off, sitting cowboy/cowgirl style, for the store to gather Valentines cards for friends and family and then off to deliver them, rain pouring down. Muey Romantico, eh Pancho?

As we drive along, we pull up to a stop light. Rolling into the stop we notice a LARGE white cloud of smoke sort of going by the windows being carried along by the wind in the wake of the truck. I sez to myself "self, where the heck did that come from?", must be from the car behind us - hmmm, nobody behind us in the mirror..... The girlfriend looks down and screams "the truck is on fire, the truck is on fire! pull over and let me out, NOW!"

You know, I sometimes think as I drive along, "this would be a really bad place to have a problem with a car, there's no place to pull over" - this was one of those times. I try to remain calm 'cause sure enough, I look over and small flames are coming into the cab from under the passenger side firewall. First thought = "which side of the truck is the gas line on?!?", suddenly on the right a sidewalk appears. I pull the truck up onto it and kill the motor. Jumping out, I pop the hood and flames are coming out from under the heater core. In a unplanned stroke of brilliance I have managed to park the car over the gutter now swollen with rainwater. I start throwing water from the gutter in the general direction of the flames. The fire is out. Now we are standing in a monsoon of water pouring from the sky, the fire is out but girlfriend won't get back in the truck...

I manage to get the truck parked down the street in a parking lot, we get a ride home with friends. The "Fire Truck" is christened.

It turns out that the heat riser was not able to fully open since the weight hinge was stuck against the manifold. Large amounts of heat are produced in this area from the exhaust gas. This caused the RTV on the exhaust gasket to catch fire. The fellas at the exhaust shop laugh at the story, they grind the manifold abit to relieve the sticky spot. I buy a fire extinguisher.

thats my story, I'm sticking to it.

The wags final days, she will be fondly remembered...

more pictures of the ongoing battle to keep the jeep road worthy

Instructions for upgrading your lighting system for safer, brighter headlights

Click here for pictures of the new 66 j-2000