Words: KRISTIE REAL | Photos: DALE MARTIN
One of the best things about the art of customizing is that there are absolutely no rules. The builder takes to a vehicle as a painter takes to canvas and creates art from a simple vision or idea that’s then showcased to the masses at shows both on the local and national levels. The four-wheeled masterpiece can be as tame, conventional or as wild and out there as the builder wishes, adding details that make it one of a kind.
While the idea to take a vintage Jeep Willys and make it tower like a giant might sound absurd to purists, it was exactly what builder
Charles Adkins fi rst envisioned for his fi rst one-off build. “Nostalgia is a great motivator and I wanted a Willys because my grandfather helped my uncle build one when I was a boy,” he explains. “I always said I’d have one and look at me know. It was always going to be an extreme build made to stand out and be diff erent from other Willys. I knew right from the start how I wanted it to turn out.” To put his creation into motion, Charles looked to HS Kreations for a rendering and the vision was set in stone. According to Charles, they took everything from his brain and dumped it out on paper exactly like what he first envisioned.
After an invitation from Chris Pate of Level 7 Network to showcase his vision for the Willys at SEMA, Charles’ wild and crazy project was set into motion. Instead of collaborating with a shop for the build, Charles decided to undertake his mission alone and fabricated the majority of the parts himself (with the occasional help from a few friends, he adds). “I made most of my own parts, while the store-bought ones were specifically chosen for this build given I wanted proven parts.” He’s most proud of the 4-link lift and suspension because it was 100% designed and fabricated by himself. To enhance his sky-high frame, he also added Big Shocks coilovers and PSC full hydraulic steering. To get the stance just right, Charles decided on Liberty Forged 28×16 wheels wrapped in massive 44” Interco Super Swamper Boggers.
Not interested in changing up the original look of the Jeep Willys, Charles kept things simple when it came to exterior enhancements. He simply added a DV8 front bumper, some BAMF LEDs and Hornblasters 6 trumpet kit in the bed for a bit of attitude, leaving the suspension as the main wow factor.
Since his first full-frame build was done mostly on his own, Charles confessed that a few challenges came up, but he made sure to take his time to figure everything out. “This Willys was built in a 30×40 garage behind my house,” he adds. To help out with some fabrication work he couldn’t do alone, he reached out to SS Chassis Works to bend the frame rails, while Nance Machine Shop of Siloam Springs cut most of the bracketry for the suspension. “Another honorable mention is a friend of mine, Brain Springer. When I was getting very low on time, I was afraid I might not make the deadline for SEMA. Brian traveled from Texas to northeast Oklahoma for six weekends straight to help me finish it all!”
Putting in countless hours to get it all right makes the outcome even that much more special for Charles, with the build taking a little less than five months to complete. “I was literally wrenching on it until the day it was loaded up on the trailer to leave for Vegas… I never took a day off.” But all that determination was worth it, given the build ended being nothing less than perfection.