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Old 04-13-2018, 10:29 AM
nstevic01 nstevic01 is offline
230 Tornado
Join Date: May 11, 2017
Location: Lutz
Posts: 8
Twister Jeep Build

This project has been a long time in the making. Ever since I first saw Twister, I fell in love with full size jeeps, especially the J10. A couple of years back, I managed to pick up the Dorothy 2 from Universal Studios Florida -, since then I have been desperately trying to track down the actual J10 from the show at Universal. I went through ALOT of people connected to prop management and a handful of park employees. Nobody seems to know where this truck went. It has never been spotted on the back lot, which lead alot of people to believe it was scrapped. So, 2 years of searching and I came up empty handed for the Universal one.

While trying to find the Universal one, I constantly searched eBay, Craigslist, FB Marketplace, and FSJ forums to try and find the right one. Let me tell you, these trucks are so far and few between that you cannot get picky. You have to take the best example that you can afford and go from there. Since the Jeep truck has more or less had the same body for the entire 26 year run, it helped with the search. The only major change in the actual body was the brow, which can be found on the trucks up until '79 I believe. As far as I can tell, 3 trucks were used for filming, ranging from '78 - '84. One of them was used to hit the bridge and be dropped upside down, one of them was for the ditch run and to be dropped upside down, and possibly 2 hero trucks. Between the 4 of them, it covers most variations in design.

The two Hero trucks were an 80’s model Honcho. One ended up in the TN Star Cars Museum and one in private hands:

The ditch run truck is the model with the brow, the wraparound turn signals, and the larger wheels and tires, they dropped this one upside down first (in terms of seen in movie), this one was a pre 80s Honcho:

The Bridge truck, also with brow, which was also dropped upside down. This truck has the standard steel wheels and smaller tires, the non-wrapping turn signals in the front, and a manual transmission. This one was dropped second possibly. This one was a pre 80s standard truck.

You can see in this one, that 2 trucks were in fact dropped upside down. The wheels and even the level of dirt coverage is different.

When looking for the truck, I wanted to have as many original parts as possible. So, the criteria were as follows:
- Post 80’s build for the non-brow look. I’m aiming for a hero truck build.
- Needs to have the flatter, 2 piece front brush guard, the ones on the Golden Eagle models and earlier Honchos were more “V” shaped. They are incredibly hard to find in the used market.
- Needs to have the Roll/Light bar. Also hard to find, and very rarely comes up for sale.
- Needs to be an original Honcho. These had the “wide track” look and the Warn locking hubs like the hero truck. Not a deal breaker, but it will save me money on swapping axles and a lift.
- Manual or Auto doesn’t matter. The transmissions are interchangeable.
- Needs to have the split seat design, preferably the black Laredo interior like the hero.
- Needs to have a solid rear window, although this is easily interchangeable.
- Needs to have a rear cargo light in the bed. VERY hard to find….

During the search, I found that J10s seem to either be out west, or up north. Western trucks are more ideal due to little rust, but there seemed to be an abundance of them up north. I was able to find maybe 5 J10’s over 2 years that were for sale in Florida. They were either long beds, which are not screen accurate, or they were literally piles of parts. I had one promising lead out in Bell, but that one turned out to be more work than it was worth. Guy wanted $4200 for it and it didn’t even run. Out of state was literally the only way this was going to happen. One state, Texas, seems to have quite a few J10s in various conditions. Ranging from fully restored to project truck. I managed to find one right outside of Dallas, seemed to be the best combination of things that I needed to start. He sent me many HD pictures and a couple of HD videos of the truck running and driving around the neighborhood. It was a Honcho, had the brush guard, light bar, locking hubs and split seat. He also said the A/C worked, which was a plus. Finding a factory A/C is pretty hard for these trucks. It was right in my price range, so I made arrangements to fly out to Texas and drive it back.

I took connecting flights out to Dallas, and the owner picked me up. Gave the truck a once over, making sure all of the lighting worked on the exterior. Upon inspection of the interior, found that the wiper switch was broken. Not a huge deal, I was just hoping that it wouldn’t rain on the way home. Tried to turn on the A/C, but nothing happened. The guy at this point says that the switch can be finicky, I play with it for a good 5 mins, nothing. At least the external vents and windows work, so I won’t be totally dying on the way home. Everything else looked good, tires looked brand new, although the owner did mention it needed new ones do to the age. None of the gauges worked…fuel, oil pressure, coolant temp, nothing. Things were not really looking up, but I was 1200 miles from home and I was committed at this point. We did the paperwork, shook hands, and I took off….then disaster.

I literally made it a block from his home before hearing a very loud metallic thud… I turn off the truck and get out, fully expecting to see that I dropped the muffler. Wrong. The freaking driveshaft fell off the rear differential. The retaining bracket for the universal joint was loose and the bolts worked themselves out. The caps on the u-joint had fallen off, and with it the needle bearings. There was no re-using it. I called the guy up and he pulled me back to his driveway. Needless to say, there was an awkward moment occurring… The truck drove perfectly fine in the videos that he made for me, answering specific questions while driving so I knew that it was not previously recorded.

The guy was totally nice about it, drove me to the parts store, paid for the parts, got me lunch, and then helped me to install the part. It took the better part of 6 hours using basic caveman tools, which aggravated me because I can swap a u-joint in my shop in about 15 mins using my press. But no, we had hammers and a bench vice. Once the new u-joint was in, I was on my way. Took some back roads to the local Walmart and stocked up on road trip supplies. Picked up a tool kit, some coolant, duct and electrical tape, a phone mount and charger, some snacks, and a gas can. Stopped in at the gas station, topped off the truck, filled the can and I was on my way.

Once on the highway, I managed to get the truck past 40mph for the first time…anything above 40 and the truck shook violently. Great. So, I proceed to drive 45-50mph for the next 3 hours. By this time, it’s dark, the freaking headlights are pointed at the ground. They turn on, but do not illuminate the road. I pull off to adjust them…the damn adjusters are broken. My wife convinces me to stop at a hotel since it was close to midnight at this point. Wake up early, eat, fill up with gas and Im back on the road doing 45. I get about an hour out, and finally decide to pull into a shop to get the wheels balanced. They proceed to tell me that it will be at least 2 hours… ugh. At this point I am already 24 hours behind schedule, what’s 2 more. I have them inspect the driveway fix of the u-joint and do a general once over to make sure nothing else will surprise me.
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:30 AM
nstevic01 nstevic01 is offline
230 Tornado
Join Date: May 11, 2017
Location: Lutz
Posts: 8
So they pull me back there and go over everything:
Tires – 9 years old….the belts are starting to separate. They will make it to Florida, but they need to be replaced. They balanced the hell out of them to make my ride a little more tolerable.
Rear Differential – Leaking oil out of the pinion seal… we can’t have this. Last thing I need is for the rear end to lock up due to non-lubrication. I have them fix this.
Rear Driveshaft – Driveway fix is good, but the second u-joint on the shaft is bad and shows a lot of play. I have them replace this as well.

All in, 3 hours later, about $560 for something that would have cost me $50, at best, in parts and a weekend of work. I’m pissed at this point. I get back on the road and everything is going well. I can get up to 70-75 without any issues.

I stop off in Louisiana, bridge and bayou area, just hole in the wall gas stations every 30 miles or so. I fill up with gas and notice a large black puddle under the motor…. . How long was I driving like this? When the hell did the leak start? It was about 100 miles from the garage I just had work done, Im wondering if the tech maybe loosened something and forgot to tighten it again. I wipe everything down and watch where it’s coming from. Rear main seal, front crank seal, oil pan, oil pump, oil pressure sender, oil drain plug. What in the hell??

I go inside the gas station, buy a can of stop leak and about 8 quarts of oil. I put the stop leak in, top off the oil, with the plan to stop in 50 miles to check the level. I get about 50 miles and pull in to a gas station. Only lost about ½ a quart. Top it off and go another 50 miles. This time the oil level was fine, but the damn thing was still leaking. At this point I stop every 50 miles to check the oil, and every 100 to fill up with gas. I manage to get about 150 miles from home before it starts losing oil again, but I have enough to keep me topped off to get home.

FINALLY, back in my driveway!!! This picture shows one of two things, how massive these trucks are, and how jealous my Ecto is getting knowing that she is going to be replaced.

As of right now, I am in the process of collecting all of the parts I identified. I will not be posting anything related to items that are not yet acquired since they are INCREDIBLY rare, and once identified will start a feeding frenzy for available parts. So I will post stuff as I get it in my hands.

Interior bits:

What’s on that dash?!?

In shot number one, we see 2 compasses and a camcorder.

In shot number two, we see one of the compasses, a handheld radio, and the camcorder.

In shot number three, we see a Nikon SLR camera.

1. Is a vintage Airguide Scout Marine Compass

2. Is a vintage Airguide Scotsdale Automobile compass

3. Is a GE Images CG400 8mm camcorder. This was by far pretty hard to identify, let alone find one for sale. There was one on eBay with a broken body, literally a hole in it. I passed on it, but another one came up for sale recently that I ended up winning. It has some broken hinges and is missing the rubber part, so I ended up buying that first one from eBay as well for parts.

4. Is a Uniden GMR100 8 Channel radio. I managed to pick up a set of these, that still work!!

5. Is a Nikon F3. I don’t have one of these yet, but Im not too worried about finding one since they are all over the place on eBay.

What’s under that dash?!?

Here is a collage of shots from the interior. They are literally blink and you’ll miss it moments in the movie. There were 7 total unique items to identify on and under the dash.

There is also another CB used in Jo's truck. This one can be seen at the 29:19 mark when they are arguing. This CB is a hell of alot easier to find. It is a Cobra 25LTD Classic with the mic that connects on the side.

1. Vintage Cobra 4-pin Mic. Picked up one of these on eBay, they are fairly common.

2. CellularONE branded Motorola SCN2498A Bag Phone. This is the one with the black number pad and White function pad. Scored this on eBay pretty cheap.

3. This is a Uniden BearTracker BCT-2. Also picked up on eBay for the super cheap price of $37.55 shipped.

4. Cobra 19 LTD Classic CB Radio. This thing is impossible to find. There is one on eBay that is absolute junk. If anyone has one of these to sell, I will pay you a fair price for it.

5. Vintage KC rocker switches. Also impossible to find. Same deal, if you have a set, I will pay you a fair price.

6. Shaft style Panasonic AM/FM Cassette Deck. Model unknown, but it is very similar to the E330. The main difference is the face plate text.

7. OEM Jeep Quartz Clock. Picked it up on eBay.

8. OEM Vacuum operated 4WD lockout switch. These are damn near impossible to find…and I mean impossible. I managed to get very lucky and find a decent one on eBay. Had to pay a pretty penny for it too.
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:30 AM
nstevic01 nstevic01 is offline
230 Tornado
Join Date: May 11, 2017
Location: Lutz
Posts: 8
Sooo what about the rest of the interior?!?

Here is another collage of shots from the rest of the interior.

1. Unknown yellow rain jacket. Still looking for this one.

2. Back of the cellular antenna; I have a couple of leads on this one, will post the model once I confirm.

3. Vintage plastic hooks. Still looking for these.

4. OEM Cargo lamp switch. Picked one of these up on eBay, fairly common, but expensive. Not all of the J series pickups came with a cargo lamp.

5. Vintage protective glasses. Still trying to find these.

6. Custom Muskogee State College sticker. I will have to recreate these. There are 4 along the tailgate, and one in the back window.

Alright, alright, enough of the interior. What about those exterior bits?!?

We will start with the front of the truck and work our way back. You guys probably already know most of these.

1. OEM 2 piece brush guard.

2. OEM Chrome “Mustache” Muscle Grill. Very hard to find. I have a black “Letter” Muscle Grill, but still looking for the right one. If you have one for sale, let me know. I need the buckets, insert, and mustache surround.

3. KC 46 series 4x6 Daylighters. The truck in the Star Cars museum in TN shows that it is orange lights under the KC covers. Not sure if those are original. Impossible to find on the used market. The closest out there are the Pro Comp 9200. Picket up a set of these on Amazon, and found a vintage set of 4x6 Red letter KC covers.

4. 15x10, 10 hole, 4.25” hub bore, 6.5x5 wheels. Several manufacturers made these. Pacer 320c, Unique 96, and Cragar Quick Trick 1. All of which are no longer being manufactured. I did manage to find a nice set of 4 on Facebook Marketplace.

5. Goodyear Wrangler AT, Size 33/12.5/15. These are no longer manufactured unfortunately. The closest that is out there are Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs. The Wrangler AT/S tires are not made in the right size.

6. OEM wraparound turn signal. Picked up a brand new set from

7. Vintage CIPA mirrors. These are hard to come by. The ones on eBay being sold as new are plastic and did not have the correct rivets on the back. If anyone has a set for sale, let me know.

8. KC 69 Series 6x9 Daylighters. Damn things are no longer manufactured and never come up for sale on the used market. I went through about 5 online sites that said they were available, only to find out they had not updated their website to reflect them being discontinued. There is a close copy of them made by Pro Comp. The Explorer 9002 6x9 lights. I picked up 3 of these on Amazon.

The back of the truck:

Here is a collage of shots for the items on the back of the truck. I have identified pretty much everything at this point.

1. Vintage Hustler HQ-27 55” antenna that has been cut down. The giveaway is the middle section. The antenna is mounted on a standard RP-311 3” spring.

2. OEM Cargo Light. These are INCREDIBLY rare. I managed to score one off of a FSJ group on FB.

3. Vintage bumble bee yard spinner? At first, I thought this was an antenna topper, but you can clearly see that it is on a stick that is taped to the antenna. The wings on either side spin freely, which led me to believe it was a lawn spinner. I have yet to find one anywhere on the internet. If anyone has a lead or one for sale, let me know. I will pay a fair price for it.

4. Unknown glass mount cellular antenna. This one is gonna be hard to nail down the exact model. The base is very distinctive, as is the tightness of the coils at the base. I have it narrowed down to 2 models. I may pick up both and see which is the closest.

Got the Goodyear Duratrac 33/12.5/15 tires put on today. The bed of the truck looks too high, the whole truck is raked forward.

Turns out, there is a 3” lift block in the rear. Possible on top of 3” lift leaf springs. When I get a chance, I’ll take the blocks out and see how it sits.

Also started playing with the coloring for the center light. It shows as an amber color in the movie, and KC did make amber lenses for the 69 series daylighters. However, trying to find one is not happening anytime soon. So I picked up some Krylon Stained Glass paint. Surprisingly effective after a few coats.

More to come.
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:53 AM
rang-a-stang's Avatar
rang-a-stang rang-a-stang is offline
350 Buick
Join Date: Oct 31, 2016
Location: Camarillo, CA
Posts: 1,453
Sweet! Great thread. GIANT pictures.
2011 Nissan Pathfinder Silver Edition 4x4
2009 Mazdaspeed3 Grand Touring
1979 Jeep Cherokee Chief Wide Track, 401, Full 3" Borla exhaust, Headers, Front Shackle Reversal
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Old 04-13-2018, 11:00 AM
nstevic01 nstevic01 is offline
230 Tornado
Join Date: May 11, 2017
Location: Lutz
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by rang-a-stang
Sweet! Great thread. GIANT pictures.

Yeah, Im not sure why they came out so large on this forum. The other ones I posted one came out normal sized.
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Old 04-13-2018, 05:15 PM
Full Size Jeeper's Avatar
Full Size Jeeper Full Size Jeeper is offline
350 Buick
Join Date: Jul 20, 2014
Location: Mandeville Louisiana
Posts: 1,092
If you look up a member on here called Charles Kline, he started a Twister truck, not sure if he ever finished it.
1978 Wagoneer

401/turbo 400 trans. Quadra-Trac BW1339 (with Low) 4" Rusty's lift with 31" Summit Mud Dawgs

Fuel Tank, Red Holley Fuel Pump, Razor Grill (profile pic out dated), Rebuilt steering box
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:23 PM
nstevic01 nstevic01 is offline
230 Tornado
Join Date: May 11, 2017
Location: Lutz
Posts: 8
I stumbled across his thread a while back. He did end up finishing it and goes to shows with the Colorado Movie Cars club.
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Old 04-16-2018, 03:58 PM
Crankyolman's Avatar
Crankyolman Crankyolman is offline
232 I6
Join Date: Sep 27, 2017
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 86
This is a cool thread

I was having a look around on the interweb to see if I could find a bumble bee whirligig and found these people.
Since they do custom whirligigs and it looks like they have made something similar in the past they may be able to help you.

Just a thought.
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