If anyone ever tries to tell you that the world of LS1 swaps has gotten stale, then they’ve clearly never seen this. Justin Miller from St. Louis, Missouri has taken our favorite powerplant and transplanted it into one of the most iconic off-road vehicles of all time; a Willys Jeep. It’s truly a match made in heaven.
Miller’s history with this particular 1952 Willys is a long one. The Jeep had been sitting at a storage unit near Miller’s grandparents’ house for nearly 32 years, and he remembers seeing it parked there when he was a kid. He finally asked the owners to sell him the rusty Jeep just a few months ago, and he took it home to start the restoration process.
“When I started working on the Jeep I was living in a condo with a single car garage, and that’s where the majority of the work was done to the Jeep. I even lifted the body off the frame using ratcheting tie-downs hanging from the garage rafters.” Miller says. Unfortunately, the years had taken quite a toll on the Willys, and the original body was essentially unsalvageable, and Miller had to procure an entirely new body from Kaiser Willys.
Once the body was solid again, Miller moved on to the drivetrain. From the very beginning, the choice was clear. “When I told my friends that I wanted to put an LS1 in the Willys, they all told me I was crazy and that it would never fit.” Miller tells us. But never the less, he went for it anyway in true Hot-Rodder spirit. The engine is an LS1 with a pretty serious cam, and a set of Hooker block-hugger headers help fit everything inside the Jeep’s narrow frame rails. The LS1 rests on a set of weld in adapters and stands from Novak Conversions that are specifically for this swap.
The transmission is a beefy 4L80E with a 3,200 stall converter from Monster Transmission. According to Miller the trans tunnel only needed a few slight modifications to get the big RWD transmission to fit. Also, the transmission is so long and the wheel base of the Jeep so short, that the driveshaft ended up being just 13-inches long.
Miller tells us his LS1 Willys will do battle on the street, at car shows, and even on the drag strip – making it a certified triple threat. Yes, he plans to take the Jeep to the drag strip. Given the fact that it only weighs around 1,600 pounds with him in the drivers’ seat, you know it’s going to be quick. Miller is putting the finishing touches on the LS1 Willys and plans to have it tearing up the streets before the end of Spring, so keep your eye on LSXMag for updates.