Jp Magazine - - Front Page - By Bruce W. Smith jped­i­tor@jp­ Pho­tog­ra­phy: Bruce W. Smith

Three things are most im­por­tant to David Diens. They are fam­ily, sand, and Jeep CJs;

in that or­der. We met him in the Oregon Dunes and learned about all of them. Twenty years ago his then-girl­friend, and now-wife, Ali­cia, knew he loved rip­ping up the sand in a CJ-5 run­ning a 327 SBC. But he’d sold his beloved Jeep to help buy his first house a cou­ple years ear­lier. So when the Oregon cou­ple saw an ad for a stock ’86 CJ-7 in an Au­to­trader dur­ing a road trip in 1998, she pushed him to buy it.

“That was the last year of the CJs,” says David. “Af­ter years of driv­ing dif­fer­ent crappy $500 cars and sav­ing money, the Jeep bug was com­ing back. I was on the hunt for a 1986 Jeep CJ-7 with a four­banger, rare Dana 44 rearend, and Dana 300 trans­fer case to do an­other SBC con­ver­sion. Ali­cia knew our budget was tight, but she was all in.”

At the time David worked at a lo­cal body shop in Spring­field, Oregon, and with help from friends work­ing nights and week­ends, they had the Jeep back on the road, com­plete with a 383ci Chevy stro­ker and 700R4 tucked neatly into a to­tally re­worked and painted body by Steve Hines at Col­li­son Too in Eu­gene.

David Diens’ 25-year ro­mance with Jeep CJs cre­ated a 525hp LS3-pow­ered ’86 CJ-7 built to con­quer the dunes

They named the color “Badass Yel­low.” The re­vamped, bright yel­low CJ-7 be­came a reg­u­lar sight on the dunes.

Ten years later the econ­omy tanked at the same time the Diens had a 6-mon­thold daugh­ter. Once again, fam­ily se­cu­rity and money in the bank over­ruled fam­ily fun on the sand. David sold his beloved Jeep to a friend of a friend—with the caveat he had first-right to buy it back if the new owner ever sold it.

Fast-for­ward to 2007. Diens is now the owner of a thriv­ing car wash business, The 525hp Pace Per­for­mance LS3 looks like it came from the fac­tory. Dunks Per­for­mance in Spring­field, Oregon, han­dled the fi­nal wiring, plumb­ing, and pro­gram­ming of the 4L60E and en­gine. A Wil­wood hy­dro­boosted disc brake sys­tem han­dles the stops; Optima de­liv­ers the juice.

A stock Jeep cage with front hoops pro­vides pro­tec­tion, and Sand Tires Un­lim­ited rolling stock pro­vides the trac­tion. Diens runs a full soft top and 33-inch Toyo M/Ts on the street. It’s hard to miss this ’86 CJ-7, whether it’s climb­ing the dunes or cruis­ing the streets around Spring­field, Oregon. David Diens’ clas­sic is as clean as they come, all the while hid­ing the Chevy un­der the hood. Cus­tom hood lou­vers help keep the LS3 en­gine bay cool and add a nice cus­tom touch to the oth­er­wise stock body ap­pear­ance. Paint is “Badass Yel­low” DuPont, ac­cord­ing to Diens.

the fam­ily is grow­ing, and they are cruis­ing the dunes in a Ru­bi­con LJ along with their other Jeep-lov­ing friends when one of them gets a text that David’s old CJ-7 is up for sale. He didn’t hes­i­tate buy­ing it back, even though the en­gine and trans­mis­sion were on their last legs.

Three months later David and friend Richard Travis had trans­planted a Pace Per­for­mance 525hp LS3 into the old clas­sic, along with a 4L60E and Dana 300 built by Trans­mis­sion So­lu­tions, an­other lo­cal shop. They also dis­carded the Dana 30 and Dana 44 axles for a Crawl King Dana 60 in back and a Dana 44 up front, up­graded the springs with Al­can 4-inch­ers, and had a cus­tom ex­haust built by Jeremy’s Muf­fler.

Then the Badass Yel­low Jeep was driven across town to Dunks Per­for­mance shop where techs Eric Dunks and Casey Cas­tle put the fin­ish­ing touches on the wiring, plumb­ing, cool­ing, and cus­tom air in­take; set up the cus­tom tun­ing for the en­gine and trans­mis­sion; and in­stalled the Fox 2.0 shocks.

The re­sult of nearly a year’s worth of lov­ing care and cus­tom work­man­ship on this clas­sic CJ-7 has re­sulted in one fine dune run­ner. “We are su­per happy to have this Jeep back in our fam­ily,” said David when we caught up with him at one of his fa­vorite places, the Oregon Dunes Na­tional Re­cre­ation Area just south of Florence, Oregon. “My wife and I truly look for­ward to pass­ing it down to our kids when the time comes.” The only ques­tion we have is: “Can we be adopted?” Af­ter all, this is the last of the CJs!

A Win­ters Sidewinder shifter is a per­fect match for the built 4L60E be­hind the pow­er­ful LS3. The trans­mis­sion is mated to the CJ’s Dana 300 trans­fer case thanks to a No­vak adapter. Diens used Be­drug for car­pet, which works re­ally well in the sand.

One rea­son Diens likes plenty of power un­der his right foot is he en­joys com­pet­ing with the side by sides that roam the big dune com­plex. Most of the time his yel­low CJ-7 is king of the hill.

PRP En­duro buck­ets up front are a nice touch. Diens’ fu­ture plans are adding four­point har­nesses and bucket seats in the back to keep every­one in the fam­ily se­cure, and go­ing to a more ro­bust full cage to re­place the stock hoop and front sup­ports.

Al­can cus­tom 4-inch leafs at all four cor­ners give this CJ-7 just the right amount of clear­ance to run pad­dle tires on the sand and 33-inch Toyo M/Ts on the street. Shocks are sin­gle Fox 2.0s all around. Plant­ing 525 hp to the pad­dle tires takes some...

The Grant steer­ing wheel is a nice com­ple­ment to the clas­sic CJ-7 dash. Diens had Dunks re­place the stock gauge with a sweet Dakota Dig­i­tal gauge clus­ter that keeps tabs on all the pow­er­train vi­tals and brings the dash into the mod­ern era. The stereo...

Diens had Dunks Per­for­mance build the Dana 44 up front with a True­trac and 4.11s. They also in­stalled the Fox steer­ing sta­bi­lizer, PSC steer­ing box, and hy­draulic steer­ing sys­tem. Desert Track 14.50x15s up front pro­vide ex­cel­lent trac­tion and turn­ing...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.