Project POStal was a miracle. It was a $500 Postal Jeep plagued with serious mechanical and structural problems, a nerdy dude and some friends working in a cold garage, and a very tight budget. The goal? To off-road the junkyard-grade automobile on the epic trails of Moab, Utah. But to get there, I’d first have to somehow limp a rotted cube carcass 1,700 miles on America’s back roads.
This is episode one of Project POStal, which is based on my 2019 road trip in a Postal Jeep that was literally in worse shape than most vehicles in an average junkyard. The footage you see, taken by my brother, was lost for months after COVID and other factors caused some turmoil in my company. But now it is found.
This first episode (which is also on YouTube — I’m doing a live Q&A RIGHT NOW) shows 0.000001 percent of the repairs my friends and I did to the Jeep — repairs that included patching up the 18-inch-long rust hole in the frame using a $100 Harbor Freight welder, replacing the cracked cylinder head, rebuilding the ignition system, fixing the holes in the floors and the body mounts, replacing much of the cooling system, mending the steering box, improving the terrifying suspension and on and on.
Even with these repairs, the Jeep was far too scary to drive, with the steering slop making it nearly impossible to keep the vehicle under control. To drive 1,700 miles to Utah desperately and constantly adjusting the steering angle just to keep the vehicle going straight just wouldn’t have been possible. So I gave up. After six months of wrenching and promising readers I was taking this pile of iron oxide to Moab, I sat in my living room at 2 a.m. covered in oil and surrounded by friends. With tired eyes, I looked up to see everyone facing my direction waiting for me to make a call on what was happening next.
“Guys, I have no choice. I have to call it. The Jeep is just too scary to drive. Project POStal is dead.”
Then came a knock on the door. It was a Jalopnik reader named Charles. I showed him my problem, he hopped into the Jeep and began turning the wheel back and forth. The wheels weren’t moving. “Hey Dave, loosen that nut on top of the steering box, and then tighten the screw in the center.” I grabbed a screwdriver and wrench and followed Charles’ orders. I watched him as I tightened the screw. The steering wheel began turning less and less until, finally, he tried turning it, and it barely moved. When he did turn the wheel hard, the wheels moved with it.
WE WERE BACK IN BUSINESS.
That moment of hopelessness — that realization that I’d wasted hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars on something that would never see public roads — had made me more determined than ever to maximize this road trip. It was going to be awesome, and the Jeep was going to make it. I was sure of it.
Episode one concludes with me starting the trip. Expect to see dispatches from America’s back roads in next week’s episode.