Novak Conversions - History

Our History

The story and roots of our company go back about as far as the Jeep itself.

Lloyd Novak, Machining
From the Novak photo archives... this photo is of Lloyd machining during what may have been the height of Chevy, Buick and Ford conversions to the Jeep T90 transmission. Lloyd built a reputation as not only a great production machinist, but a great designer, toolmaker and of course - Jeep guru.

The first Novak family Jeep was brought home in 1946 by Lloyd Novak's father, a Navy man. At the age of ten, Lloyd had learned to drive the Jeep in the California deserts and wilderness. He determined early that he'd eventually have his own Jeep. He later got his wish with a CJ2A, which received a full restoration. After the CJ was up and running, a trailer towing incident made it clear to Lloyd that the stock drive train would not be sufficient. In 1965, a Chevy 265 V8 found its way under the hood. Lloyd become a local engine swapping guru and a remarkably talented mechanic. This drew the attention of several of Lloyd's friends and associates.

Generation I, 1967 - 1999

During Mr. Novak's day job, he had become an expert lead machinist. After hours, he was soon making adapters and performing conversions in others' Jeeps - all this in the middle of the southern California hot-rod and performance culture. By 1967, Lloyd and his wife, Barbara Novak, had put out a shingle of their own. They first advertised modestly in Four Wheeler Magazine. Novak Enterprises (as it was called then) became a business. Mail order was the primary mode of their commerce for the first few years, instead of broad telephone correspondance. Lloyd's primary employment as a tool maker soon gave way to their own company.

Lloyd and Nephew, Lloyd Jr.
If Jeeps weren't cool enough as it is, Lloyd had a penchant for about anything mechanical - airplanes included. This is a photo of Lloyd and his nephew and namesake, Lloyd, Jr. The plane is Lloyd's Cessna 140. Coupled with the Novaks industry and ingenuity was a balancing dose of recreation. There's word that there were some Harleys in the mix, too!

Novak sold not only great conversion parts, but also a popular selection of detailed technical articles on engine conversions, transmission swaps and even brake & steering conversions for Jeeps.

For the next three decades, Novak developed an excellent reputation in aftermarket adapters and engine mounts for Jeeps, not to mention a wide body of knowledge and common sense that set a standard of expertise in the Jeep industry.

It was said that Lloyd preferred the race pits to the driver's seat. Sand racing was the rage for a decade or two and Lloyd was more often under the Jeeps than in them during such events.

Lloyd Novak passed in 1998. A great many collegues, friends and customers felt a significant loss.

Generation II, 2000+

In 1996, a Novak customer named Eric Forsberg called Novak Enterprises and met Lloyd Novak. They discussed a possible SM420 transmission conversion into Eric's restored 1969 CJ. Lloyd was informative and courteous. Eric was impressed with the man and the company and a transmission swapping plan was made. Three years after this, Eric was living the mild life under a corporate umbrella as a tech writer, engineering assistant and administrative adjunct. At this time, the T14 transmission in his CJ finally failed and an SM420 was procured. He placed a call to Novak and asked for Lloyd. Barbara's voice on the other end quietly responded that he was not there anymore. Eric purchased the kit.

Eric's 1969 Jeep CJ
Eric's 1969 Jeep CJ on Mt. St. Helens. A blown T14 transmission gave way to an SM420. The swap was enjoyable and an unexpected success.

The installation was completely enjoyable and a success. Eric's Jeep passion - already chronic - was deepened. Several weeks later, he read a discussion on a Jeep chat forum (written by C. Pedretti), mentioning that Lloyd had passed just a few months before. The company was for sale.

Eric and his machinist father flew to Los Angeles, met Barbara Novak and purchased the company. A Logan, Utah facility was found, machine tools were gathered and inventory began to build again. On January 1, 2000, we switched on the phone. A publisher's clerical error had caused a prematurely released advertisement in the 4wd magazines and the phone was ringing immediately. The plunge had been taken, headlong. We've been running ever since.

This company has grown at a strong, yet responsible pace. Since 2000, we have increased the number of customers we are able to serve by several factors. This has been done with a talented, driving staff and aggressive technological advancements.

We, too, had a history of our own, doing swaps on our own Jeeps. Like the Novaks, our first conversions took place in the 1960's a Willys Truck, then a Wagoneer (Chevy 454!) and then a CJ. With years of manufacturing experience behind us, we've taken to it with great care and enjoyment.


From 1,500 to 20,000 square feet of space, and from 3 to 30+ employees, Novak became an industrial, organizational and service powerhouse. We are absolutely relentless about improvement. More important than our business stats, we want customers to see this in our products and interactions with them.