Jeep Rigs Make Big Splash at 2024 Overland Expo West

We love truck campers here at Truck Camper Adventure. We also love Jeeps. Combine the Jeep and the camper and you get the best of both worlds. At the 2024 Overland Expo West, we were blessed to be able to photograph and talk to the builders of the several Jeep rigs. Jeeps of all ages were represented with classic Willy Trucks, CJ5s, and FC-170s as well as modern Gladiator pickups, and Wrangler JLUs. We counted dozens and dozens of Jeep rigs at the show, but there’s no way we could cover them all in this article. Of those we saw, these were the Jeep rigs that made the biggest splash at the 2024 Overland Expo West.

1. Michael Fuch’s Jeep Wrangler Custom Camper

The ultimate DIY camper build. Michael Fuch hit a home run with this epic Jeep-Camper design. Conceived after a 5-month trip to the Arctic in his Unimog, Michael’s goal was to keep as many of the creature comforts, which he and his wife enjoyed in the Unimog, yet could still be shipped internationally in a sea container. After being setback by the pandemic, the build got started in earnest in 2022 using a Jeep Wrangler JLU Sport with a 3.6L V6 and a manual transmission.

Focusing on simple, lightweight decisions, Michael scratch-built the pop-top, carbon fiber habitat with a pass through to the cab to replace the back half of the Wrangler. The camper/habitat has 7 feet 3 inches of standing height at the peak and has 6 feet x 7 feet 6 inches of living space inside the habitat. While lightweight, the finished camper has a 570 pound payload capacity and boasts 525 watts of solar, 300 amp hour lithium battery bank, and a 1,000 watt inverter. It’s also been outfitted with a 2,000 watt diesel heater, a 55L DC compressor refrigerator, 8 gallons of water with a sink, a 12 volt Travel Buddy oven, and a separating toilet. The camper can even be comfortably used with the top down for the ultimate stealth mode.

2. Pat’s Soffe’s 1956 Willys Truck

It’s hard to ignore a Jeep with a patina finish. It’s even harder when it’s a 1956 Willys truck. This amazing Jeep was displayed at the Milestar Tires booth and it got plenty eyeballs at the show. The Willys truck is owned by Pat Soffe, a native of St. George, Utah.  The reason for building an old Jeep rig came down to one thing—cost. As well all know, new Jeeps are ridiculously expensive. Pat took 18 months to build this beauty out. The restomods include a 2001 Gen III GM 5.3L engine V8 engine, a TH400 transmission from TCI Automotive, an NP203/2055 doubler transfer case system, and Dana 60 one-ton axles with 5.13 gear and Yukon Grizzley Detroit Locker. This amazing rig rides on 40 inch Milestar Patagonia Black Label tires with TR Beadlock HD17x9 wheels. If you like this rig, you really need to check out Pat’s Instagram account which has tons of photos and videos of the rig in action.

3. Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Kimbo Rig

This particular rig was displayed at the Geyser Water booth, and like the Willys truck, got plenty of attention at the show. The owners attended the 2024 Truck Camper Adventure Rally and recently upgraded from an SUV with a RTT to a Gladiator-Kimbo truck camper rig. It’s hard to find fault in their choices of truck and camper. It all starts with Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, which offers a decent 1,300-pound payload, Dana 44 wide axles, front and rear lockers, and a Pentstar 3.6L V6 engine. The Kimbo was made specifically for mid-size trucks including the Jeep Gladiator. The Kimbo camper’s construction consists of a patented, single wall, riveted aluminum, insulated with rigid R5 foam lined with suede on the inside. In spite of the camper’s diminutive size, the camper still boasts some pretty impressive numbers like 6 feet of floor space, 6.5 feet of headroom, and over 3 feet of clearance in the cabover. Fully loaded, Kimbo 6 weighs only 1,100 pounds, barely within Gladiator’s payload rating.

4. Patty Upton’s 1966 Kaiser Jeep CJ5

Another Jeep rig that made a big splash at the 2024 Overland Expo West. Patty Upton and her late husband, Loren, put 56,000 miles on this modified CJ5 that they affectionately called the Sand Ship SS Discovery. The couple also set a Guinness Book of world record in this Jeep by crossing the infamous Darien Gap in 1987, a feat that took over a year due to a breakdown and political instability. The couple traveled from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Patagonia then from South Africa to Norway, an epic trip that took five years to complete. For the most part, the venerable old Jeep is stock and features a Dauntless 225ci V6 engine though the 3-speed transmission was upgraded by Loren to a 4-speed. The roof was also raised 4 inches to accommodate Loren who stood a full 6 feet 4 inches. The Jeep features a two-door storage bay in the rear, a deployable sleeping platform, lockable propane tanks, a Hi-Lift Jack, and a Ramsey 9,000 pound winch.

5. Summit Expedition 1962 Jeep FC-170

Summit Expedition Trucks and 1st Gear Off-Road partnered up for two impressive FC-170 builds including this fire engine red one at the show.  The 1962 Jeep FC-170 features a stock frame and cab upgraded with a Chevy LS 5.3L engine with/Holley Terminator X fuel injection, a 6L80 transmission, a NP208 transfer case, and a custom flatbed outfitted with a large, midships garage. The forward control Jeep rides on Falken Wildpeak RT 38×13.5 tires, Raceline Ryno 17×9.5 wheels, and Dana 60 axles with Yukon 5.13 gears. Extras include an HIT Roof Top Tent, BAJA front lights, a custom overhead console, power brakes, a Rugged Ridge rear bumper outfitted with a Warn 10,000 pound winch, a Warn Elite Front Bumper, a HAM radio, sPOD switch controls, and a vintage air conditioner. The company’s YouTube channel provides lots more information on both builds, including the tear-down process.

Honorable Mentions

About Mello Mike 908 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.

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