A Tale Of Two CJ-7's
Every May, my family migrates to Gulf Shores, Alabama for the Hangout Fest. We have a great time hanging out with our friends Brad & Jacky, who just so happens to own a pretty cool Jeep CJ-7. It's a weekend of low country boils, drinks, music and laughs.
I'm not much on the music scene that the Hangout offers, but I like fishing and Jeeps. Luckily for me, there is an abundance of both.
The "Gulf Jeep" CJ-7
My wife has been friends with Brad and Jacky since high school. I first met them a few years back when they had this amazingly cool CJ-7 in a light blue with the Gulf logo on the hood. It came complete with back seats pulled from a commercial jet.
It was featured in the music video Gulf Coast Girl, with country music singer Caroline Jones. Once again, not my music. In the Jeep, Brad is driving, I'm shotgun and our wives Karoline and Jacky are in the 737 seats.
Unfortunately, as with so many things on the gulf, the "Gulf Jeep" was destroyed by a hurricane. Not one to be denied, Brad was on the hunt for another Jeep.
The Second Coming Of The CJ-7
Brad found another Jeep in the form of a 1977 CJ-7. He started with the mechanical aspects including new gears, lift, steering, bushings and fluid swaps. He then finished it up with body work to get it in the shape it is now.
As with all Jeeps, including new Jeeps rolling off the showroom floor, it's a work in progress.
What It's Got-
Engine: (STOCK) It's got the standard 258 AMC inline six engine and an upgraded MSD ignition system. The six is good for 112 horsepower and 210 pounds of torque in the lower RPM range. This engine is extremely reliable and super easy to work on.
Transmission: (NOT STOCK) As for the transmission, the Jeep has a Tremec T-176 four speed that was probably pulled from a 1980-86 CJ-7. The T-176 will hold up to a decent V-6 and some V-8 applications.
Transfer case: (NOT STOCK) The Jeep has one of the greatest transfer cases to come in a Jeep, the Dana 300. With it's gear on gear drive, there's no concern for the chain stretch that some newer cases are plagued with. With the ability to use a twin stick, low gear set, and heavy duty output shaft, the Dana 300 can be built for extreme use.
Front Axle: (STOCK) The front axle is the stock Dana 30 with the pumpkin offset to the passenger's side. Brad has swapped out the gears to 4.56 to handle the larger 35" tires and keep the 258 in it's optimal RPM range.
Rear Axle: This Jeep has the AMC 20 axle with matching 4.56 gears in the rear. Normally I would recommend swapping out to a Dana 44 for larger tires, but this axle is perfectly suited for this Jeep's cruising lifestyle.
Brad has added a lot of aftermarket upgrades to make his Jeep his. Some of his notable upgrades are:
- SmittyBilt 10k Pound winch with synthetic rope.
- A steering box brace for the CJ. A must for lifted CJ's.
- A 4" Rough Country Lift kit with new springs and shocks.
- 35" BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3 Tires
- 4.56 ring and pinion gears.
- Riddler differential covers to protect the R & P gearsets.
- Soft half doors.
- New seats.
- Dancing hula girl for the dash board.
- Tarpon sticker.
Motobilt bumper with stinger and SmittyBilt winch.
Inside Brad's CJ-7 complete with tarpon sticker.
The Jeep CJ-7 is an excellent vehicle for off-roading or beach cruising. It has a wide variety of aftermarket support products that make it a perfect choice for a custom Jeep build as well.
Brad's Jeep is no different. It would be a great extreme build, but it's perfect for what it is, a really cool Jeep to run around in their island life with the occasional need to off-road.
We are lucky to have Brad & Jacky as friends and we look forward to next May for more fun and to see how the newest CJ is coming along.