Jeepspeed Cherokee Build

Some of you may recognize this build from the June 2011 issue of RC Driver magazine, page 28 to be exact. The guys over there did an article/interview with me about this build and how it came about. Now that the article is out and in circulation, we wanted to do a little update with more details here on our blog. If you want to read the article in RC Driver, this issue is now available at news stands.

If you haven’t seen the article, I built this SCX10 up to replicate a Jeepspeed Cherokee. I wanted to build a scale replica of the real thing using off the shelf parts that you could find at most hobby shops. Most people don’t associate the term “custom build” with the phrase “off the shelf parts.” But, with a little imagination you can build a one off custom truck with store bought goods. This build started life as an SCX10 Dingo, and the chassis/suspension is still relatively stock. Most of the customization went into the body on this particular build, since that is what most people see first. I started with a Pro-line Jeep Cherokee body, interior, scale accessories and their 1.9 Super Swamper SX tires. Since the 1:1 1700 class is limited to 33 inch tires, a smaller 1.9 tire looks the best for this style build.

For this particular article I am going to concentrate on a few of the scale details that went into this build. Aside from the Pro-line goodies, I also used an array of Axial parts on this build as well, like the narrowed Dingo roll cage, Dingo rear bumper, interior detail kit, exterior detail kit, Honcho bumper, Honcho spare tire mount, aluminum scale shocks, 4 link parts tree, light buckets, etc.

First thing we will cover is the scale interior, and what went into it. I decided to use black, orange and silver for my colors on this rig. So the interior was painted predominately black, with silver and orange highlights. Here you can see the narrowed Dingo roll cage sitting in place to sort out the mounting points. I measured the inside of the roof line on the Cherokee body to determine the width I needed first, then cut the center of the roll cage as needed.


To mount the cage I used Axial’s rubber shock bump stops at the base of the cage. Then, used long M3 screws to tie everything together once the placement was dialed in.


More interior detail.


Custom fuel filler. I made this using black fuel line and a Great Planes nitro fuel line plug (Part #GPMQ4166) for a cap. Reamed a hole in the body smaller then the outer diameter of the fuel line, then pressed the assembly into place.


Next, I started working on the body. First thing I wanted to add was Axial scale fender flares, as most of the Jeepspeed Cherokee’s run a wide fender kit front, and/or rear. I did trim the fender flares back a little to give them more of a high speed look. Body scissors work great for trimming the flares as needed.



Here’s a little closer shot of the trimmed fender flares. Notice I cut the Cherokee fender wells back until the fender flares were even with the hood.


Once I moved the fender flares up level with the hood, and trimmed the Cherokee Lexan bumpers off, the front of the fender flares end up fairly short. This left me with no holes to mount the very front of the flares to the body. So, I drilled a hole through one of the “dummy” fasteners molded into the flare, then trimmed the head of the fastener off with an X-acto. Now, I can screw the front of the flares down to the body as needed.




I had to cut the backside of the fender flares into small pieces in order for it to not distort the body lines when everything was bolted up.


After installing the fender flares, I installed the interior to see if there were any clearance issues. Notice I had to cut part of the interior away to clear the backside of the fender flares.


Here you can see the internal roll cage pretty much sits against the roof line of the body, which should help keep the cab rigid during any high speed rollovers.


Another Pro-line accessory that I added was their roof rack. I installed a few Axial light buckets to customize it a little too.




Next I needed some bumpers. The stock Dingo rear bumper was a perfect fit for the Cherokee body. But, the front bumper isn’t really a desert style bumper. So, I decided to see if I could use a Honcho bumper instead. In order to give our Honcho bumper a little more of a pre-runner look, I cut the bottom of the wings off. Then, cut the aluminum inserts that fit the wings into small pieces to look like reinforcing gussets. Also added our big round lights and amber lenses while I was at it.



Once again I mocked everything up to ensure a proper fit. It can be a pain to keep assembling everything, just to tear it down again. But, it’s the only way to get everything exactly where it needs to be. Patience is your friend during these steps.




Once the roof rack was mounted and everything fit properly, it was time to start working on the paint job. I laid out the design I wanted as true to scale as I could. Then, weaseled my way into Brandon’s office to see if he could cut me some paint mask for the body. Thanks Brandon!


I just used basic rattle can paint on this build. After masking the windows and paint job, I gave the body a very light coat of black paint. To ensure the paint wouldn’t bleed under my mask, I let this first coat completely dry before I applied anymore paint. A light first coat, that is allowed to dry, is the best insurance for a clean paint job. That first light coat basically seals the paint mask to the body, and doesn’t allow later coats to bleed under.


Paint is done! I applied the black first, then the silver outline on the scallops, then the orange last. After that I went back and laid down another coat of black. This did 2 things, one it gives the orange paint a “burnt” look so it isn’t so bright. And two, it’s a pet peeve of mine to look inside a Lexan body to see the same color on the inside as the outside. So, I always back my paint jobs in black.


With the fender flares installed.


Shot of the scallops on the hood.


Applied all the stickers and it was time for another mock up.




The ride height looked a little tall to me, so I made some functional limiting straps out of shoe laces to lower the ride height a bit.


Last thing I did was install the spare tire and add the other scale accessories from Pro-line.



The final product……