Friday, October 20, 2017

The Kalaber J1 - 20th Anniversary!

A dream, a vision, a desire and a crazy idea made reality: The Kalaber J1

By: Esteban Segura.

Tucson, AZ

With lots of imagination, common sense, vision and guts, Mark Tetreau started to build The Kalaber J1 in 1995.  The lack of tools, engineering education, resources and money, didn't stop him for starting this living project.  This master piece on four wheels hides many secrets and cool facts and features that will make you want start your own.  This year The Kalaber J1 and Mark celebrate the 20th anniversary of them both being featured at the SEMA show in 1997.


Mark Tetreau was born and raised on a small farm in Michigan, he learned at a very early age the magic behind trucks and off-road vehicles.  He became used to fixing everything with a “multi-tool” Leatherman.  Mark is a self-taught, with a degree in modifications from the University of Life.  Mark started to build The Kalaber J1 in 1995.  The name comes from his family; his daughters Kali and Amber makes the Kalaber, his wife Jill the J and the number 1, as she is one of a kind.

After moving to Prescott, Arizona Mark joined the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Jeep Posse as captain.  There, he experienced the need to have a reliable all-terrain vehicle , but that it needed to have four doors.  At the time, there were no four- door Jeeps in the US market.  However, as a car dealer, Mark owned about 13 Jeeps and had many junk/spare parts lying around.

Mark started the search of the perfect four -wheel, beat -up old Jeeps, to build the body.  He was, looking for the perfect chassis and engine.  With nothing but desire, his Leatherman and a vision, he started the process of cutting, slicing, stretching and welding.  His starting point was a used Dodge ¾ ton truck chassis of 7ft, 2in wide with a 131in wheelbase.  In his mind at the time, it was big enough and robust enough to handle everything he needed and to perform to his desire and demands.


After the chassis was ready, Mark found a Dodge 440 engine, combined with a Mopar 727 transmission with ARB lockers, front and rear. In addition, Mopar Dana differentials and an ATSCO steering box and pump to secure a full four-wheel drive capability on demand.  

To build the body he utilized a total of 4 different Jeep models. The hood uses two CJ7 hoods to fit the 14 straps on of the front grill; compared to the 7 that all Jeeps come with. The CJ7 half tub got CJ8 fenders well inserted. Only if you are a Jeep connoisseur, will you recognize it right away. A total of 4 front doors with roll up windows in the middle of the body give The Kalaber J1 that unique look. He needed two tailgates in order to fill the width of the vehicle.

In 1997, The Kalaber J1 makes it to the SEMA Show in Vegas.  At the time, Mark has had already invested about $10K of his own money and received more than $80K worth of equipment from sponsors.   The Kalaber J1 was the first ever, four -door Jeep at the SEMA Show and it has been featured more than a dozen of times since it first appearance in ’97.


This year, Mark is celebrating the Kalaber’s 20th anniversary by giving it a makeover.  He decided to pick up the original idea of having a hard top and replaced the soft one that has given the Kalaber J1 that military look all this years.  The original hard top was stored at his barn for 20 years; he got it out and modified it to fit the body.  For the rear side windows on the back, Mark used 2 CJ7 rear hatched windows and they were shrunken to fit the body.  On the back, he used a 1956 Willies Wagon rear lift gate, increased in size to fit the width of the Kalaber.  It has the iconic Overland Willies logo on the rear window.  This is a smooth transition in addition to the new color from an off-road vehicle to a more family friendly overlanding piece of art.

The Kalaber J1 at the Overland Expo West '17


·        Advance Adapter/Atlas Transfer Case
·        Allied WheelsRaceLine
·        Action Graphics
·        Auto Meter
·        Blizzard’s Top Shop
·        Beal’s Auto Body
·        CVT Cascadia
·        Contact Marketing
·        Mr. Scott Becker “The Go to Man”
·        Daystar
·        Factor 55
·        Goodyear
·        Grub Hub
·        Helwigs Products
·        Hi-Lift /Slide-N-Lock
·        K&N
·        Klein Automotive Accessories
·        Kodiak Steps
·        Mastercraft
·        MTX Audio
·        MSD Ignition
·        Odyseey Batteries
·        Pelican Products
·        Power tank
·        Premier Power Welders
·        Protofab 4x4
·        Pull Pal
·        Ruffstuff
·        Rubicon Express
·        Spin Tech
·        Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts
·        Tuffy Security
·        West Coast Differentials
·        WARN
·        S&S Custom Off Road

Do you want your product to be displayed in the Kalaber J1?  Contact us today!

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