Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Project Money Burner Jeep

Bigger is better! When bad things happen to good people they have the option of giving up or making things better. Junkyard Life's own Keith Lively wrecked and rolled in his 1991 Jeep YJ one week before his wedding in 2012. The Jeep was destroyed. A loose tool bag knocked Lively upside his head inside the crashing Jeep, but otherwise he was unscathed. Luck or fate? He still had sense enough to marry a woman who shares his passion for all things with four wheels. When Lively walked down the aisle he had already hatched a plan to create a monster Jeep that could tackle any obstacle. Project Money Burner was born! 

What happened?
  "A steering knuckle broke going down the highway 
at 50 miles per hour and the Jeep turned sideways, hitting the side of a hill head on. The Jeep's momentum sent it rolling over and into a concrete storm drain," Lively said. "I was knocked out cold by a tool bag. I also had some yard equipment, axes, and saws inside the Jeep. They ended up stuck in my dash and the pick axe was embedded in my seat where I would have been if I had not leaned over and held onto the passenger harness." The crash no doubt could have been deadly. "The good Lord was definitely riding with me that day," said Lively.

  "Another C.A.O.S. (Central Alabama Off-road Society) club member saw the wreck and got me out. I woke up sitting on the back of a fire truck. The rest of the details? I have no idea."  

Before the wreck of the 1991 YJ. Notice the beefed up roll cage and seat belts.

The only thing that was not damaged in the Jeep Wranger wreck was the massive Off-Road Connection roll bar system.

 The only things not damaged in the wreck were the massive Off-Road Connection roll bar system, the tailgate and the radio. 


Damage assessment
  The force of the crash was hard enough to knock the front axle out, break the transmission in half, and shove the front drive shaft through the floor board. The 4.0 motor was locked up and the transfer case was also trashed. 
  "Most of the drivetrain was busted but when Jeep in is in your blood you got to rebuild," said Lively.

 The Jeep's frame was stretch 21 inches to make the 2-door YJ/TJ into a 4 door.

The plan: Building the Beast
Lively loves to share his outdoor adventures with all who are brave enough to ride along. The more the merrier, he says, so the plan morphed into a big boy 4-door Jeep. The middle of the Jeep frame and body was stretched by 21 inches for more legroom, and the rear seat was widened by 6 inches to allow more elbow room for two full-size adults. Sharp eyes will notice that rear doors were minimized in size to give it more of a Jeep Scrambler appearance.

  What started out as a wrecked 1991 YJ (YJ=1987-1995 Jeep Wrangler) ended up with a 2001 TJ (TJ=1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler) front clip that was donated from another member of C.A.O.S. who wanted to help Lively turn the YJ into a TJ project.   

 Money Burner is on its third engine in eight years.
Each more powerful than the last.

Nuts and bolts
  A decision was made to upgrade the powertrain to a 6.0 liter built LS engine with a 4L80-E transmission with NP-205 twin stick shifter. Power to the ground via a Dana 60 front axle
, a 14-bolt Dana 70 rear axle, with both axles receiving Detroit Lockers. The front axles received larger stub axles upgraded to 35 spline with Warn locking hubs. Toss in a set of military H1 Double Bead Lock rims with new centers (to improve the offset) and 43-inch tires and you can see where this trail of money leads. The name "Money Burner" was a no-brainer.

Party in the back
  A storage area behind the rear seat now folds out to a full-size bar with a 3500 watt inverter, built-in blender, lights, disco ball and everything you need to relax after a long day of wheeling with friends. Money Burner features front and rear Warn winches, rock lights and onboard welder and air pump.
  "The blender will make 4 gallons of crushed lemonade or possibly something stronger before the battery goes dead," said Lively. "If you crank the Jeep you can mix drinks all night or run power equipment in remote locations."

Seat of your pants thrill
  Take a ride with Keith Lively in his Money Burner Jeep and you will come back impressed or shaking in your boots. No middle ground here. The thing is a monster! Lively lives up to his name and is not afraid to drive those 
43-inch tires into deep water, tackle boulders, dams or a steep wall of earth. He will nail it headfirst into a mountain and drop the back bumper into the dirt. Lively never met a rev limiter he couldn't abuse. The Money Burner delivers! Wow!

Jody Potter — Junkyard Life

 A roll cage and half a wrecked Jeep were all Lively had to get started.

 Progress shot after Money Burner build takes shape.

 Money Burner roll cage is beefed-up to handle heavy impact of a Lively rollover. Oh! There will be rollovers.

Just added new rock lights for improved night recovery trips or just riding down to the creek at night.

 A tighter torque converter installed during the last motor swap helped improve the low-end power. The 6.0 LS motor runs a set of shaved, mild ported heads with a Stage 2 cam.  

 A custom hardtop was fabricated for cold weather months. Full doors spice up the color combo. Half doors are blue.  

Money Burner is setup to make it up to the big climbs in comfort and occasionally rescue a Junkyard Life lost car or truck left deep in the woods. The front winch will extend out 250 feet and the rear winch will extend out 175 feet allowing recovery of almost any car we come across.

Know a junkyard that we need to visit?
Got a wild Jeep, car or truck story?
Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

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