What started off as a 1953 Willys wagon will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind off-road hot rod hybrid. (Image/Big Tire Garage)

Ian Johnson from Big Tire Garage likes turning Jeeps into serious off-road rigs. And he’s built a lot of them, from the venerable CJ all the way to modern Wranglers. One ride he’s never tackled though, is the classic Willys Jeep Station Wagon.

Until now, of course.

Updated January 25, 2021 with more episodes.

The goal of the Bad Ole Wagon build is to combine the ground-pounding capability of an aggressive off-roader with the cool custom vibe of a hot rod. With that in mind, Ian is spending more time on things like sheetmetal and visual accents.

But make no mistake, this Willys Wagon is going to have mega off-road street…errr…trail cred. It starts with a modified Jeep Wrangler JK frame and ends with an Earth-moving Cummins Diesel engine—with lots of impressive axle, drivetrain, and chassis tweaks in between.

Check out each video in the series using the links below and scroll to the bottom for a photo gallery of Ian’s progress.

You can also catch this build series on Amazon Prime Video.


Watch the Bad Ole Wagon Build on YouTube

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Body Mods
Part 3: Modern Updates
Part 4: Frame and Chassis
Part 5: Diesel Power
Part 6: Body Work
Part 7: Custom Touches
Part 8: JK Frame Mods
Part 9: Custom Axles


Bad Ole Wagon Photo Gallery

The shell Ian found already had its floor removed, so he welded a new one in. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
Ian installed modern door latches as a vital safety measure. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
In addition to a custom-fabricated dash, the Willys also gets a modern steering column and instrumentation. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
Ian poached a grille and hood from an old Jeep TJ, but had to trim it down to fit with the Willys cowl profile. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
After some trimming and grinding, the Willys received off-road bumpers fore and aft. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
The Willys body is lowered onto the Jeep Wrangler JK chassis to ensure proper clearance for the Cummins Diesel engine. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
Ian reinforced several areas of the Willys’ body to ensure it’ll take whatever abuse the trails dish out. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
The Willys’ new fabricated floor was welded in, sealed, and then hit with a strong undercoating to prevent corrosion. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
Power goes through a Tremec TR-4050 manual transmission on its way to custom 9″ axles. (Image/Big Tire Garage)
With a mechanical locker in back and an air locker up front, the Willys can handle some aggressive terrain. (Image/Big Tire Garage)

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