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French Tickler buggy


Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013

It’s been a while I’ve wanted to buy or build me a buggy. A project has been now ongoing for the past 6 months. Not really fresh news, but I didn’t really advertise it a lot. I wanted to have it in the garage (which is the case since last weekend) before posting a thread.

The first step for me was to buy an old built CJ, with a good parts list. Gave a good price for it. It wasn’t my dream buggy but I could quickly give it a makeover and enjoy it for a few years. Problem is, the more I looked into it, the more I realized it needed extensive work. And when I found out the chassis was starting to stress crack in the back, the decision to strip it and transfer all the parts into a new chassis was taken.

I spent a lot of time trying to define a list of features I wanted it to have, and in the end, 5 axis stood out :
- Capable (I like it when the vehicle isn’t the limiting factor)
- Comfortable (I hate being beat by a vehicle)
- Strong (I like to send it :smoke:)
- Reliable (I hate breakage)
- Easy to maintain/repair (I’m aware that Beatdowns and Reliable aren’t necessarily compatible, so when I need to work on it I don’t want to fight it like so many of the buggies I’ve seen where it seems maintenance was never taken into account)

In the end I wanted a buggy with a chassis and suspension made to soak up the big stuff, unbreakable axles and room to bring a bunch of stuff comfortably (tools, spares, cooler, heated seats, tunes, …). Basically, a hybrid between an Ultra4, Rockbouncer and Trail Rig.

The name is : French Tickler.

For the heavy lifting I called in Tim from Bent Fabrications. He’s a legend in my book and I’ve looked up to him for a long time now. Going all the way back to the bright years of the PBB and the Conquistador build. Being able to have him build me a roller was a dream and I can only recommend him if you want something done. He’s the man!

Tim also took care of setting up the suspension (links + shocks). The chassis is based of his production 2” Ultra4 & SCORE legal. Some custom touches were added at my request (leg room, hydroboost, rear tubes and trailing arms).

He also took care of installing the fuel cell, drivetrain, exhaust and helped me BIG TIME by setting up the front axle.

I try to use as many parts as possible from the Jeep (cause budget), but everything that is new comes from BustedKnuckle Offroad, ran by my friend Jake Burkey. Don’t hesitate to call him, he knows his stuff and will do you right.

Specs :

Chassis : Bent Fab Evo3R
Engine : stock 5.3 Vortec (about 600 internet hp)
Trans : PTC TH400 with RMVB and a 2000rpm converter. Bellhousing is cracked so I might weld it or install an Ultrabell soon.
Transfert : 3.0 Atlas2
Front axle : 14 bolt custom with Mark Williams spool, 4340 40sp shafts and RCV Big Bells. 05+ F250/350 outers.
Rear axle : 14 bolt, shaved, Detroit locker and 300M 35sp Black Mamba shafts
1410 rear driveshaft, 1410/1350 front shaft
Tires/wheels : TBD, 42” or more.
Suspension : Coilcarriers + Triple Bypass Radflo on Riot Trailing Arms + PAC Racing SwayBar
Steering : PSC with XR ram and 1 piece shaft
Misc : Heated seats, Hydroboost, Griffin FRONT Rad, GoatBuilt Fuel cell with stock Silverado pump, Winters shifter, Moroso Accusump, Autometer gauges, etc…

I set up an aggressive deadline to have it running in April 2019 for the U4 race @ AOP. Teardown and paint during winter 2019, so I can ride it in 2019 and do any modification without grinding through new color.

If everything goes according to plan (hahahahahahahahahahaha, right !) the goal is to go spectate at KOH 2020 with it.

Some pics :

IMG 3719

The original Jeep

IMG 6579

Chassis at Bent Fabrications

IMG 6171

SwayBar detail

IMG 5208

TIG welding of the Trailing Arms

IMG 7348

Big joints

IMG 7701

Building the front axle

IMG 7733

Lots of turning angle

IMG 7746

First time out

IMG 7917

Home after a painful unloading process

There we go, all caught up.

No big shop, everything is done in my single car garage with basic tools. I’m far from being a master fabricator and looking at my MIG welds next to Tim’s is painful but I’m here to learn and improve myself. The goal is to be functional, not pretty. So don’t expect a fancy dash or crazy tin work, this is not happening. Just trying to keep it clean and simple. I’ll try to update often.


Don't get #labroned
Dec 1, 2010
Looks good so far. Does this mean since you drove mine I can drive yours?

The Luke

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2010
Next week it goes to Mcutler's for tin work, right?

Looks great man. love the lines on it. Can't wait to see it in action.


Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013
The Luke said:
Next week it goes to Mcutler's for tin work, right?

Looks great man. love the lines on it. Can't wait to see it in action.

I wish, but not in the cards. I'll screw up the tin work myself like a big boy ;D

I'd love to see it in action too :rolf:.


Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013

onepieceatatime said:
Are you gonna race the U4 at AOP?

Not a Racecar. At all.

I would just like Phil Liccardi to tune it since he's gonna be at this race.


Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2011
I see quite a bit of tube length showing in the passenger side of the front 14 bolt. How are you solving the driveshaft to engine clearance issues that the 14 bolt pinion offset causes when used as a passenger drop?

Everything looks great BTW.


Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013
Thank you for the kind words !

Here is the diagram for the axle :


We ended up not pressing the C's all the way in and left 1/4 inch on each side to weld them to the tubes from the inside, which widened the axle .5"
If you add the rotors (which are .4" thick), the axle is now 72" WMS.

Driveshaft will be tight but not impossible. I wanted to re-use the one from my Jeep (see pics), but I think I'll switch to 1410 joints instead so I'll have to build/have built a small diameter/thick wall shaft.

See pics :





Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013
Sawzall said:
The 72" width definitely helps. Looks like it will clear just fine.

I'm going to use 4.5 or 5" backspace wheels.

Will keep the buggy "normal" width and reduce scrub but at the same time gave us way more room for brackets etc...


Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2013
Got a few things done... Mostly little things but everything takes forever so that's normal I guess...

- Mounted the trans cooler, battery and cutoff switch (I'll drill speed holes and remove the battery handle at some point)


- Traded my Atlas from a 4.3 to a 3.0 (had to change input shaft)


- Mounted and plumbed the accusump


- Swapped the fuel rail to a returnless version (no pic)

- Installed a LS1 dipstick and gauge to fit my Mast Motorsports pan (no pic)

- Slotted the fancy adapter because it's not made for pass drop and a hole wasn't lining up. I will change it at some point and already have some ideas on how to gain weight on the crossmember/seat mounts


Started on the harness mounts (T-Case side is super tight, you have to clock the eyelet flat to remove it) :



- found some creative wiring for the trans gage


- Plumbed the trans cooler (lines are upside down in the pic, has been corrected since)


Installed some speakers and high lift (I know, very important !)


Started brainstorming on the winch mount :


- Dropped the trans to cut the bellhousing (cracked) and I'm waiting for an ultrabell to show up



Had a few **** ups too, especially that time when I made a bracket for the power steering reservoir but I welded it as a mirror image of what I wanted so it wouldn't fit the correct side of the buggy laughing1

As an industrial engineer in the automotive world, I can appreciate how well a vehicle goes together on a production line especially seeing how inefficient this buggy building process is.

That's all for now...