The Tin Man came to be as the result of a lifetime of off-road hard use and vehicular mistreatment. I co-founded TeraFlex with Mark Falkner and Jeff Mock back in 1996. The Jeep TJ Wrangler had just come out and new Jeep owners were bombarding our store MEPCO looking for a lift. Nobody made them so we thought we would do it ourselves “until the big manufacturers get their kits done.” In that process we discovered the value of a rotating or articulating control arm and the rest is TeraFlex history.
In 1997 I leased a 1998 Wrangler TJ. Immediately we began developing product from it. The TeraFlex CRD Axles and LCG Suspension are both major products developed on the Jeep. In fact, when we were cutting brackets off of the frame I realized I was supposed to turn the Jeep in shortly from the lease and decided since a quarter of its frame was gone I had better buy it.
In 99 I formed ARCA (later RCAA then UROC) as a sanctioning body for competitive rockcrawling.
The same Jeep was used to set up courses all over the country and recovered literally hundreds of vehicles that were victims of hard obstacles and bad decisions.
After all the product development, course building and recovery the TJ, while having only 40k miles on it, was in desperate need of some love. The logical part of me, the brainy side, thought about selling it. That would be the financially smart thing to do and would certainly be easier than a rebuild. The sentimental side of me, the heart, couldn’t do it. So, I threw on my “I’m with stupid” shirt and laid out the rebuild plan.
The Vision of The Tin Man
A friend of mine is Brendon Vetuskey. Brendon is the lead designer for Hot Wheels and himself an outstanding visionary and builder. He built an amazing Firebird. To protect the project after stripping it he clear coated it, loved it and left it. It is stunning and inspired the build of The Tin Man.
We all know the story of the Wizard of Oz. The witch, Dorothy, the dog and those damn scary flying monkeys. The Tin Man is a key character too. In the story, the Tin Man is a former woodsman who was turned into a living statue made of tin after a wicked witch cast a spell on him. For me, I begrudgingly went rockcrawling in Moab in 1988. We were in a Toyota following a baby blue CJ7 with lockers. I didn’t even know what lockers were but that Jeep and run, like the Tin Man in Wizard, cast a spell on me. I couldn’t think of anything else. I scrounged my pennies and bought a golf course maintenance Jeep CJ5. Put in a LockRight locker in the rear end and hit the Rim trail, Pritchett and Spike as my inaugural runs. It changed my life. How fitting it was then that my daughter pleaded with me to call the Jeep the Tin Man after it was stripped to bare metal. She won, and so it is... The Tin Man is born.
So welcome to the build of The Tin Man. Im going to step buy step the build. Mock it as you may or take and idea or two for your own rig. This Jeep, for me, has so much history and so many memories that the build is almost religious. Some of you will get that because for some of you a spell has been cast as well… it’s irresistible.