THEN AND NOW: SCRAMBLER CJ8

4WDrive - - Contents - WORDS AND PHOTOS BY STEVE ROCK

JEEP CJ8 SCRAMBLER; THEN. Still reel­ing af­ter a sec­ond oil cri­sis in 1979, North Amer­i­can auto man­u­fac­tur­ers were hav­ing a hard time stay­ing in busi­ness. New gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments for safety and emis­sions stan­dards meant greater cost to the al­ready strug­gling com­pa­nies, with smaller out­fits like AMC Jeep find­ing it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to com­pete in the mar­ket­place.

The buy­ing pub­lic be­gan to look more se­ri­ously at the com­pact pick-up trucks be­ing of­fered by the Ja­panese, and do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers re­sponded with the likes of the Ford Ranger and Chevy S10, but Jeep were hav­ing a hard time keep­ing up.

Their low-cost quick-fix was to take an ex­ist­ing model, the CJ7, ex­tend the wheel­base by ten inches, the bed by two feet, and in­clude a re­mov­able soft or hard top cab. Fin­ished off with a sturdy roll-bar, spe­cial wheels and some fancy graph­ics, North Amer­ica saw its first fac­to­ryfresh con­vert­ible 4x4 pick-up truck, the Scrambler, which de­buted in March 1981.

AMC at­tempted to keep the Scrambler fresh and ap­peal­ing by of­fer­ing sev­eral trim pack­ages. The SR Sport and SL Sport vari­a­tions came with a host of ex­tras in­clud­ing larger tires, un­der-hood in­su­la­tion, spe­cial de­cals, three-spoke steer­ing wheel, un­der-hood light­ing, chrome trim, car­pets, and the seem­ingly oblig­a­tory-for-the-time, denim ver­sion.

At $8392 the denim model was the most ex­pen­sive Scrambler to grace the show­room floor but dur­ing 1982 the Scrambler’s price was re­duced to a mere $6765, and Jeep tele­vi­sion ads of the time were ask­ing the mo­tor­ing pub­lic “Why buy a car?” It wasn’t enough though, as sales

re­flected the price and were fall­ing fast. “Go­ing Top­less” was the 1985 ad-man’s an­gle, and Jeep of­fered a free soft top with the pur­chase of all new Scram­blers but it was too lit­tle too late; sales were barely a quar­ter of the first year’s at a lit­tle over two thou­sand units, and 1986 saw the fi­nal year of pro­duc­tion with one hun­dred and twenty eight units sold in North Amer­ica.

The po­ten­tial was there for the ve­hi­cle to suc­ceed, but sadly it never hap­pened, al­though if you hap­pen to have a right hand drive model, fit­ted with a hard top and rear barn door, con­sider your­self ex­tremely lucky; mar­keted as the ‘World Cab’, it’s an ex­tremely rare model in North Amer­ica as only two hun­dred and thirty were made for the Alaskan Postal Ser­vice. If you’re trav­el­ling to South Amer­ica or Aus­tralia your chances of find­ing one are much bet­ter as the same hard top, right­hand-drive Scrambler was sold there in much greater num­bers, and fit­ted with full length rear win­dows and was ap­pro­pri­ately called the Over­lan­der.

JEEP CJ8 SCRAMBLER; NOW.

Learn­ing to drive in a pur­pose-built Jeep CJ7 rock crawler rid­ing on 37" tires im­me­di­ately qual­i­fies you for the “Not

your av­er­age Soc­cer Mom” cat­e­gory. Yes I said Mom, and Jamie-Leah Papout­sis is just that, mom to three won­der­ful boys; Micah age nine, Gabriel age seven, and their much loved, eigh­teen month old brother, Paul Ju­nior. But with all this pre­cious cargo to haul around, the fam­ily needed some­thing a lit­tle big­ger than their cur­rent rock-crawl­ing CJ, so Mom de­cided that she wanted a Scrambler.

1982 was a pretty good year for some peo­ple, and the im­mac­u­late CJ8 Scrambler that you see here –pur­chased in Oc­to­ber 2016 af­ter a long search by the Papout­sis fam­ily- had just rolled off the pro­duc­tion line and was in the hands of its first Amer­i­can owner in Alabama. The South­ern cli­mate is gen­er­ally kind to ve­hi­cles, and even though the twenty-year old truck was to­tally rust-free, its sec­ond owner, a Texan, com­pleted a full body-off restora­tion in 2014.

Papout­sis is only the third owner of this beau­ti­fully re­stored Scrambler, and has a com­pre­hen­sive binder that doc­u­ments the en­tire process. Need­less to say that the truck didn’t re­quire any work to qual­ify for an On­tario safety, and as it’s only ever sum­mer driven should, with lit­tle more than sched­uled main­te­nance, last long enough for all the Papout­sis’ boys to learn how to drive in it. Even at such a young age, the boys told me –quite diplo­mat­i­cally- that they don’t have a favourite fam­ily Jeep; se­cretly though I think they do.

With the rock crawler on hand for off-road fun, Papout­sis “De­cided to keep the Scrambler stock, you just don’t see Scram­blers in this con­di­tion here in Canada.” The only re­quire­ments she had were a new soft top and fixed seat­ing for the boys. Paul se­nior was em­ployed to fab­ri­cate seat mounts en­abling the rear seats to sit higher than the mid­dle row, thus keep­ing every­one happy. And a great

job he did too, the Scrambler now sports three rows of comfy seats and still has room for all the boys’ baseball gear.

Head­ing out for the photo shoot, and with just over two thou­sand miles on the freshly re­built AMC 258 six-cylin­der en­gine, Papout­sis ef­fort­lessly shifted the five speed man­ual trans­mis­sion as if it were an au­to­matic; “This is how I un­wind”, she said. Life takes on a dif­fer­ent pace in the Scrambler, and with trips to ball, back road runs, and fre­quent fam­ily out­ings to their lo­cal con­ser­va­tion area, this par­tic­u­lar Jeep only rep­re­sents happy times in the Papout­sis home. What a year that was…six facts about 1982 • The Canada Act was passed; mean­ing we were truly in­de­pen­dent from the UK Gov­ern­ment’s House of Com­mons, and could at last make all our own po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions. Go Canada! • Lotto 6/49 was first drawn on June 12th

with a half mil­lion dol­lar jack­pot. • Karen Bald­win be­came Canada’s first

ever Miss Uni­verse. • Do­min­ion Day was re­named Canada Day. • The Com­modore 64 home com­puter was

launched. • The Falk­lands War; two months of bit­ter

fight­ing and al­most a thou­sand lives lost.

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