It’s more than a wave from the driver – It’s a way of life! Ask almost any of the Jeepers and they will tell you they have their own approach to their vehicles and the Jeep came along to fill that need! In its infancy, the off-road mode of military transportation helped win wars, but in modern day use from daily driver to off-road play toy, the Jeep has come to be one of the foremost, recognizable and certainly one of the most customizable vehicles on the road (road, trails, dirt, dunes, beaches, on and on!).
Just as Indianapolis houses the IRL industry, Charlotte houses NASCAR, Phoenix houses off road, including a cool lil refurb shop called The Jeep Farm, specifically for the Jeep enthusiast and refurb aficionados. Whether off road transformations, or remaining stock to the numbers, the Jeep Farm offers a variety of services from vintage restorations to modern-day custom builds.
As a former rock-crawler guy turned shop owner/operator, Drew Norman, claims, “I pretty much get hooked on anything with four tires and horsepower.” In his current projects, Norman has two vintage Baja Jeeps in the shop for restoration, and hopes to take a driver’s seat in the 2020 NORRA 1000, in his newly purchased vintage Baja Jeep. “This Jeep has won the 1000 ten times, among other accolades in it’s pedigree! I’m going to be a complete rookie, so I figured I would buy a 550hp classic that’s been raced by some of the biggest names out there. I’ll just jump right into the deep end!” jokes Norman.
The Jeep Farm is known for its restoration of 1986 and older, Jeeps, including the Grand Wagoneer up to final-year 1991 models. Drew claims he has 34 restoration projects currently on the books, 50+ Jeeps in the ‘yard,’ and currently booking projects into 2021. “We do pretty much whatever ya want,” says Drew. “We do complete nut-and-bolt back-to-stock restorations, we do resto-mods like our ‘88 Grand Wagoneer that will look all original exterior, but with a built 5.3 LS in it, 4-wheel disc brakes, full leather interior, heated seats, custom stereo and on and on. We just finished a 1970 Wagoneer resto-mod, with hidden stereo, 18” Detroit Steel wheels, etc. We do V8 conversions, local repairs, swaps, paint and bodywork, and pretty much anything that applies to a Jeep. Our customers are those that have a hard time finding qualified folks to work on their Jeep and they will ship theirs to me from around the globe.” The Jeep Farm currently has among others from around the USA, 2 Jeeps from Italy, and a Jeep from Germany.
“I love HOWELL EFI – Simple, works!”Drew Norman of The Jeep Farm
“My mom says I came out of the womb making a motor noise,” laughs Drew. “My family has always been into cars and that’s how I grew up. My grandfather was president of a AAA motor club, and my dad and his brothers were also into cars. My uncles into Porsche and Mercedes, and my dad and I into Jeeps.”
At the age of six, Drew’s Jeep fascination began when his father came home in a new 79 Jeep Renegade. “The Jeep coming home that day with the orange renegade strips had me hooked,” says Drew. “Then I was always in it, as my dad’s daily driver. When I would be standing in line at school, I’d see all the kids parents show up in their station wagons, then my dad would pull around with those bright colors, the KC lights across the top, and I was jumping into something cool!”
Drew not only relished cool in the school line but then formed a successful career based on his passion for the 4×4 sensation. With a love for stock vehicles and building to spec for his customers, Drew also loves to push the boundaries and be creative with customizations as well. “I don’t own anything stock,” he says. “Original rebuilds are incredible, they are fun and I enjoy it, but there is not a single vehicle of mine that hasn’t been upgraded in horsepower, or new wheels and tires, and we are now working on a lot of projects hiding stereos and electronics so that it all looks original, but performs with modern improvements. I love customizing, but I’m not a customizer on hot rods only. Our niche is Jeep restoration, repair and ‘mild’ customization’ as a focused business expertise.
Included in his mild customizations, Drew relies on HOWELL EFI, for all of his fuel injection needs. Much like the Jeep Farm focus on Jeeps, Drew recognizes the focused expertise, and one-and-only focus on electronic fuel injection, by his long time supplier. In the beginning of his carb-to-injection jobs, over 10 years ago, Drew learned early on that other products provided more problems than solutions, and that’s when he started with HOWELL. “Simple works!” claims Drew, “and that’s what we get with HOWELL.”
Drew learned that with the abilities provided in touch screen setups and modifications, customers will mess things up, then he would have to fix them again. With many issues in other systems vs. the mass R/D that went into the GM systems for fuel injection, and the owner of HOWELL as the project leader in the GM development, the HOWELL systems provide an ease and reliability second to no one. “You can install these (HOWELL) systems and then not have to worry about them,” says Drew. “And that’s what I love about them!”
“A large majority of my restorations leave Arizona,” says the Jeep Farmer. “They get shipped here, I restore them and they go back to the owners wherever it may be; overseas, they go back east, they go to Texas, etc. And once they leave me, I’m not close enough to solve any follow up issues. And with the HOWELL systems, I can still put the factory air cleaner on it, the engine looks largely stock, I can install the EFI, put a couple test miles on it, and I’m comfortable enough to ship the vehicle back across the country knowing it will be perfectly fine. Plus, on the rare occasion something does happen, my customer won’t be down for weeks at a time for me to get back to them. I can send them, or they can run to the local parts store for a sensor or whatever it is and replace it within an afternoon.”
Norman also notes that sometimes customers just want cheap; that there are always going to be those that just want the lowest price without concern (or value) in quality and reliability. Unfortunately in a time of priorities based on penny-pinching and finding the lowest price on the internet, many will unknowingly spend more overall expense because the cheap purchases often do not include all the parts required for the job, rarely come from a reliable and knowledgeable source, require more hours, money and attempts to get the job done right. And while the statement “you get what you pay for” may hold true in a variety of products and services available, when you don’t pay much, with an equal return in performance in the automotive industry, that often results in being stranded on the road, or in a 4×4, perhaps on the other side of a mountain, unable to reach civilization for an instant repair. Conversely, Norman also recognizes the customer that knows, respects and understands the value in quality work and reliability, and knows there is a cost to achieve the same results, and these customers will make sure they purchase the quality and reliability available, without any hesitations at all.
“Tried and true, eventually becomes the staple,” says Drew, “and we definitely live by that standard in our shop. HOWELL provides us two main appeals to support that. First, the HOWELL systems just work; without complication, complexity, or worries. Instead, they use parts and system design specific to each installation for an immeasurable success rate.”
$1,500.00 – $1,560.00
“Second,” claims Drew, “Their customer service is outstanding. I can actually call and talk to someone. It’s an easy conversation and they can solve the problem with an ease and understanding to help me, help my customers that much better. They can sit on the phone if we need clarity in the On-board diagnostics, bending the paper clip in half, running the codes, or any other specific design and parts discussions needed.” Drew notes in the past with a different system for example, quite the opposite. He recollects that the HOWELL systems are a nice change from previous experiences. “We actually had a Jeep dead for three months while we continually had to send parts back and forth, troubleshooting errors. We eventually had to send back every single part of this other system, and that was how I found HOWELL. We then installed the HOWELL system instead, and I asked for my money back from the other system. That was my first experience with HOWELL many years ago. What I was using failed, and when I used HOWELL it saved me. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since. I won’t use anything else.”
“My customers want to turn the key and go. And that’s what HOWELL EFI offers.”Drew Norman – The Jeep Farm
From playing in the yard motorizing his matchbox cars as a child and seeing his dad’s ’79 Jeep Renegade pull in the drive, to all the Jeeps currently in the shop, Drew Norman has always loved cars. For anyone that feels the same and looking for a great resource for your rebuild, feel free to hit him up and add yours to the list!
Photos from www.thejeepfarm.com and The Jeep Farm Facebook Page