I went off-roading in the craziest Jeep I've ever seen - Best of Sacramento
I'd be more afraid of the boulders beneath breaking rather than this Jeep
“Watch this,” he said. And with a skillful blip of the gas pedal, the lumbering behemoth of a Jeep turned into a backfiring, flame-spitting supercar. Fast forward a few minutes and we were now scaling boulders, gliding over gravel, and just generally giving the middle finger to Mother Nature.
Such is the life of Ali Hoff (@hoffoffroad) and his 1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ Sport Utility 2D, nicknamed BAJeep. If the pictures didn’t make it clear enough, this is no ordinary Jeep. This, my friends, is what Jeeps aspire to be once they roll off the factory floor.
In a true rags to riches story, this Jeep was saved from the crusher by Ali’s grandfather, Steve Hoff, a fellow all-terrain warrior. On top of being an off-road genius, Steve was a bodyman his entire life, having worked on everything from collision repairs to SEMA and Concours vehicles. For some time, he had been eyeing salvage auctions to try and find cheap Jeeps that had been rolled, crashed, or in other words “beat to shit.” All he needed was the frame and tub since everything was going to be replaced and upgraded, and that’s exactly what he got with this Jeep. At the time, it had been in a front-end collision which pushed the hood to within a few feet of the windshield. A perfect candidate for what was to become the BAJeep.
As Ali puts it, this Jeep went through several stages. The first build was on 31-inch tires, then 32, then 33, and now 35-inch tires. Each version upgrade brought other necessary changes as well to ensure that it all played nicely together. The only stock things are the tub, the dash, the hood (not the crushed one but a period-correct one), and the seats which were raised for better visibility. Now the way his grandpa acquired the upgraded parts is a story as entertaining as riding in the Jeep itself.
See back in the day, WARN Industries, a well-known manufacturer of off-road parts, had built a Jeep Grand Cherokee to take to SEMA. That didn’t go according to plan though and the thing ended up rolling on the way there. Even though the body was screwed, it still had all these good parts on it so instead of letting all of it go to waste, he bought it from them and swapped the engine, axles, and transmission into this Jeep.
Let me just run you through some of the parts on this beast. 5.2L Magnum V8 from a Cherokee ZJ, a Rock-It custom dual cone intake, JBA headers back to a Flowmaster with nothing between, a Solid axle co D44 with TeraFlex rear disc, and four-wheel TeraFlex disc brakes. If you’re interested in the full build list, check that out on the BAJeep’s official REVKIT page. I only understand some of the words on there.
“The goal of this is that when I go out, I don’t break. Many people in this hobby have ‘shitboxes’ and they’ll go out and break something every fucking time so they’re working on their rigs late at night and sometimes they have to go and get parts for them and that’s not fun to me. I’m all about going there, camping, having fun, and coming home. It’s a purpose-built rig but it’s to the point where if you go any farther, it won’t be a fun road vehicle anymore. That’s what my dad did to his Jeep and my grandma had a Jeep as well so we’re all a Jeep family. Once you’re up there, you fall in love with it.”
Prior to riding and driving Ali’s Jeep, I had never experienced off-roading. Now that I’ve had a taste of it though, I get what he means. Being able to go over anything without a care in the world is absolutely something I can get used to. Not just that but the roar of that V8 combined with the pops and crackles it makes basically makes it a supercar. Ripping it off-road is a very interesting feeling of freedom and the way he drives this thing on dirt is very uhhhhh, what’s the best way to put this?
“I beat the shit out of it.”
That’s it Ali, you got it. Thanks for letting me understand what true off-roading is and for trusting a beginner like me to actually drive your rig. It’s definitely a feeling I’ll never forget!