It’s not every day that you get to help a real-life Indiana Jones.
Archeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli is one of the world’s leading authorities on the early Mayan civilization, which flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America from 2000 B.C. to 900 A.D. This past June, he and a team of archaeologists made an important find when they unearthed a well-preserved stone frieze dating back to 600 A.D. in the Mayan city of Holmul, located in northern Guatemala. And they did it behind the wheel of a 1985 Jeep Grand Wagoneer rebuilt with components from your favorite parts emporium.
Outfitted with gear like a Rough Country four inch lift kit, ARB air lockers front and rear, 37 inch Super Swamper tires, and a Warn 9.5 Series winch, Estrada-Belli’s Grand Wagoneer had been a faithful pack mule on previous expeditions. As you might guess, the jungle is not a very hospitable place for a motor vehicle, and the Wagoneer was in need of a refresh before Estrada-Belli went on this year’s dig.
“We didn’t treat the poor truck very well,” he explained. “Most places we travel don’t have roads, and more often than not we had to drive in very rainy, muddy conditions with heavy loads. The (360-cubic-inch) engine was very tired after years of abuse, so we needed to have it rebuilt before the 2013 expedition.”
Our intrepid archeologist turned to Summit Racing for the parts needed to bring the Jeep’s 360 back to life:
• Federal Mogul Engine Rebuild Kit
• Sealed Power intake and exhaust valves
• Edelbrock Performer Cam Kit and Valve Springs
• Milodon Oil Pan and External Oil System Kit
• Summit Racing Timing Chain Set
Summit also provided a TCI rebuild kit, valve body, and torque converter for the Wagoneer’s Torqueflite 727 transmission, Power Stop brake rotors, EBS brake pads, and a Vista Ready-Rad OEM replacement radiator.
And if you think your garage is small and crowded, check out the photo of the shop in Guatemala where the Jeep was overhauled. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the local mechanics got the 360 humming and the Torqueflite shifting just fine.
Thanks to Latin American mechanical talent and some good old American hardware, Professor Estrada-Belli has his trusty trail vehicle back in service, ready to find more fabulous Mayan secrets hidden in the jungle.
National Geographic Magazine will be doing a feature story on Estrada-Belli’s expedition in a future issue. In the meantime, you can read about his recent find in these Interweb posts: