The following on the 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ rebuild is from the “Wild Rides” section of the October/November 2020 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Want to read the entire story? Grab a copy at

It’s a Jeep thing. That’s what I had always heard but never experienced. As my family spends significant time in the Wyoming mountains, I figured it was time to dive into Jeep culture.

Wyoming is a wild place. There is plenty to explore on foot, and miles and miles to travel with a capable off-road vehicle weaving through some of the most gorgeous mountains found in the western United States. Sheridan, Wyo., offers slow speed limits and a smooth traffic flow; it’s perfect for doors off and no top while cruising through the downtown in perfect weather.

In the summer, I set out to own a cheap Jeep Wrangler. Once I bought the first one, I sharpened my plans for a second. My plan was to build a fully capable Jeep Wrangler that looks as good on paved roads as it does off-road.

My 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ Project

I honed my search to a ’94 Jeep Wrangler in a salvage yard located a few hundred miles away. It sported low miles, full doors, hard top and seemingly—note I said seemingly—minor fixes needed. After purchasing it through an exhilarating online auction, I hitched a ride with a friend. He dropped me off hundreds of miles from home with my plans to drive the never seen or inspected vehicle home. I will never attempt the same process as recklessly again. Let’s just say I made it home, but barely.

Once arriving safely home with the 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ, I took a couple of days to decompress from the stressful highway shaking, bouncing and deep regret I experienced while driving it home from the adjacent state. I am very much the type of person who will review a situation, think on the problem, tinker with the problem and then generally find a solution. I quickly realized my perfect base of a Jeep Wrangler was just that. However, it needed some serious drivetrain changes, along with the planned cosmetic upgrades. 

Overall, 65 hours were devoted to this ’94 YJ, transforming it from a total loss to a Jeep I am proud to own and drive, both on the street and on the mountain. Spend time finding the right Jeep, do your research and be patient. Your hard work and vision can convert a salvaged wreck into a summer dream. 

Watch my complete build in the video above. Want to read the entire list of what I put into this build? Grab a copy of the October/November 2020 issue of Ballistic Magazine at

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