Most builds showcase a shop’s ability or depict a builder’s dream ride. But then there are those that not only make you stop and stare, but feel connected to the builder’s story. Tom Buchanan’s Project Hope is one such vehicle. As his first real project car, Tom stopped at nothing to finish this Jeep in honor of his late father, who recently passed away this past December fighting Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer.
Originally called “The Build For Buck,” Tom always knew that he’d one day build an off-roading vehicle, since it had always been a part of his life. “Growing up in the swampy areas of Texas, there was no shortage of large, lifted trucks and Jeeps,” he describes. “Motocross, Jeeps and trucks were all I knew back then, so it’s something that’s been instilled in me.”
The Jeep was initially going to be used by Tom and his dad, to showcase when they attended meets and to hit the local trails with, but that all changed after Tom and his family were notified that his dad’s cancer had come back after being in remission. The Jeep was the last thing on his mind until a few month’s into his dad’s treatments when he met someone going through the exact same thing as his father.
“Knowing the pain and constant poison being pumped into my father’s body, it amazed me that this little girl I met was always smiling and just the sight of her gave me hope,” Tom remembers. It was at that moment, he wanted to do something to help in some way and that’s when he realized that his simple, everyday Jeep was destined to become the “baddest Jeep around” and do some good at the same time.
But before he went to work on Project Hope, he organized his first event last year called Jeep Jingle, which was was focused on spreading some holiday cheer to the cancer patients at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Within a month he had more than 100 Jeep enthusiasts participating, a corporate sponsor and dozens of donation drop boxes all over Houston. Despite the chaotic weather (wind, rain, tornadoes and a wicked cold front), Tom and his fleet of lit up Jeeps were given a police escort through the medical center where children who were too sick to go outside lined the windows to get a glance of the parade of vehicles, while visitors and volunteers lined the makeshift parade route cheering and clapping.
“It was an awesome experience, I had my Jeep’s top off and had a real life Santa Claus standing out of my Jeep waving to the children. It was the best thing ever!” he vividly recalls. “We ended up donating two large moving vans of clothes and toys to the children in the hospital. It was the best feeling in the world.”
With operation Jingle Jeeps a success, it was time for Tom to turn his focus to building a Jeep that would not only honor his dying father, but also everyone else fighting against cancer. He spent eight months perfecting every detail to build the “strongest,” most eye-catching Jeep on the road. “I wanted this Jeep to be a symbol of strength and most of all hope,” he adds. He collaborated with KEG Media to turn his ideas into a blueprint of the project, transforming an ordinary Jeep into a vision of hope.
Eric Contreras of Power House Custom Cycles in Houston, TX created a bold blue and black masterpiece in paint, while Car Toys installed the DUB Audio system that incorporates three 12-inch subwoofers, three 1,000W amps, six 6-inch and six 4-inch component speakers with a Jensen head unit controlling it all. The Wild Boar Tanga Fastback gives it an aggressive edge, as well as a meaty set 37x13.50R22 Mark Ma Dakar M/T III tires wrapped around color-matched set of TIS 535 wheels. Power was added via Magnuson supercharger, Yukon gears and a roof rack by RackWorks to fit the Wild Boar top and was masterfully put together by the crew at All Out Offroad Performance in Houston, TX.
Although he experienced a few hiccups along the way (one being that Tom continued to use it as a daily driver), all that really mattered was that the entire project was finished in time for his father to see, and luckily it was. And it was also completed just in time for the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV back in November where it was unveiled in the DUB Garage booth.“The biggest compliments were from some of the bigger names in the off-roading community that came to check it out,” he details. “They congratulated me on a well-built Jeep, which meant a lot given it was my first real build.”
With Project Hope completely finished, it’s now on tour inspiring all who see it and bringing about awareness for those suffering with cancer by being co-branded with the non-profit agency, Cars4Cancer and widely publicized as a cancer tribute vehicle. It will also help raise money for cancer research when the Jeep goes up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds being donated in his father’s name to MD Anderson for brain cancer research. “My only wish was that was that I could have taken dad for a ride, but I settled for a smile and a, “Great job, son.’ I can only hope to be half the man that he was and will make sure he isn’t forgotten. He’ll live on through this Jeep and this story.”
This would not have been possible without the professionalism and expertise of All Out Offroad Performance. They are truly the heroes of this build and as it came down to the wire we all worked nonstop to get it finished! And if you’d like to join me in the battle against cancer, you can make a donation to MD Anderson Cancer Center in my father’s name: Thomas (Buck) Mackay Buchanan.”
2012 Jeep Wrangler JK
Wheels and Tires
TIS 535 wheels 22”x12”
Mark Ma Dakar M/TIII 37X13.50R22LT
Suspension and Performance
ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 1 adjustable 4.5” coilovers
Bespoke Rock Krawler Mid-Arm Kit Crawler joints
Rock Krawler pro series steering
Banks cold air intake and monster cat-back exhaust
DiabloSport Trinity tuner
Currie Enterprises RockJock 44 axle
RK Sport carbon fiber hood
Warn Industries ZEON winch
Factor 55 ProLink
GenRight Offroad front and rear fenders and swing out tire carrier
Poison Spyder Customs front and rear bumper and crusher corners, replacement lights and Winch Fairlead
RackWorks Rubicon roof rack
Wild Boar Targa Fastback
One-off interior by Roadwire Leather Interiors
Color-matched interior pieces from Drake Off Road
BedRug JK carpet kit
One-off, color-matched Carolina Metal Masters Grab handles
Vision X Vortec Headlight, 50” lightbar, 30” lightbar, 10” winch mount light and Optimus pillar lights
(3) DUB Audio 12” subwoofers
(3) DUB Audio 1,000W amps
(6) DUB Audio 6” component speakers
(6) DUB Audio 4” component speakers
Jensen head unit
ICON Vehicle Dynamics
Rock Krawler Suspension
Yukon Gear & Axle
Poison Spyder Customs
Wild Boar Products
Drake Off Road<
Carolina Metal Masters
Vision X Lighting
All Out Offroad Performance