A Well-Done Resto­mod­edCJ-7

Mod­ern me­chan­i­cals in a vintage shell

Jp Magazine - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Stuart A. Bour­don jped­i­tor@jp­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Stuart A. Bour­don

“There are fewer and fewer CJs on the road these days, and it’s fun to be in a cool, old

Jeep,” was how Dr. Michael Korch­mar be­gan telling us about his 1979 Jeep CJ-7 Golden Ea­gle. We couldn’t agree more, and de­cided to pho­to­graph a full fea­ture on it so you could check out this resto­mod beauty for your­self.

Raised Tub

While Michael loved the look of the CJ-7, he wanted it to of­fer mod­ern up­grades, and that be­gan with the in­te­rior. Master­craft Baja RS seats in brown tweed fit­ted with five-way belts not only fit the cock­pit de­sign of this new old-school rig, but they also safely sup­port the oc­cu­pants. Auto Me­ter’s Phan­tom gauges pop­u­late the full cus­tom alu­minum dash. The CJ-7 in­te­rior was pretty much gut­ted, then filled with more alu­minum work like the cus­tom cen­ter con­sole (se­cured to the cus­tom rollcage) that holds the shifter, twin-sticks, cuphold­ers, a place for a cell phone, an Alpine stereo head unit feed­ing Kicker speak­ers, and switches for the air lock­ers. The Golden Ea­gle steer­ing wheel might be the only OG item in­side.

This 1979 Jeep CJ-7 Golden Ea­gle has a clas­sic-cool look to dress up its mod­ern me­chan­i­cals

The body has been cut and lifted to make a flat belly for the raised en­gine/ tranny/trans­fer case combo that is well pro­tected from the rav­ages of off-road­ing by a cus­tom alu­minum skid­plate that stretches from in front of the oil pan to be­hind the trans­fer case. GenRight alu­minum front and rear bumpers bracket the GenRight Boat­side Rocker Pan­els, and GenRight’s 4-inch front flare and Comp Cut rear help to pro­vide just enough clearance for the wheel­base stretch (more on that later), and so the 42-inch­ers just barely kiss the fend­ers un­der ex­treme axle ar­tic­u­la­tion. Baja De­signs 2x2 LED lights on each end of the CJ-7 bring sun­light to night when it’s nec­es­sary. Although this orig­i­nally was a Golden Ea­gle–model CJ-7, the fac­tory paint and de­cals were so far gone there was no use in at­tempt­ing sal­vage, but Michael paid homage to its her­itage with a set of OE Golden Ea­gle de­cals on the Gri­gio Al­loy (a Ferrari fac­tory color) paintjob.

350TPI Power

Making power un­der the hood of Michael’s 1979 Jeep CJ-7 Golden Ea­gle is some mod­ern mus­cle. The Chevy

350 TPI V-8 came out of an ’87 C4 Corvette and was re­freshed with ported and pol­ished alu­minum heads and a Flow­mas­ter 40 Series 3-inch ex­haust sys­tem. The air in­take was rerouted closer to the mesh sec­tion of the in­ner fen­der in an ef­fort to get it away from heat.

Back­ing up the 350 V-8 is a TH400 and an At­las 3.8:1-ra­tio trans­fer case.

The Hughes-built tranny fea­tures a man­ual re­verse valve body, Art Carr shifter, HDX 2,000-rpm stall speed

torque con­verter, and a Derale elec­tric fan–as­sisted 12x15-inch aux­il­iary fluid cooler mounted be­hind the rear axle un­der the tub. Cus­tom driveshafts with 1410 U-joints carry the power down to the axles.

Fi­nal Stretch

The frame and sus­pen­sion mods are sig­nif­i­cant. For these jobs, Michael got help. Throt­tle Down Kus­toms built a CJ/ TJ hy­brid frame that of­fered a per­fect fit for the CJ-7 body and the TJ sus­pen­sion sys­tem mounts. SunFire Off-Road in Sun­man, In­di­ana, took the frame and bobbed it 21⁄2 inches up front and cre­ated a tube sub­struc­ture to mount the front bumper and steer­ing gear. SunFire also cre­ated cus­tom shock tow­ers de­signed to hang the front axle for­ward 8 inches and the rear axle back­ward 8 inches from the fac­tory CJ-7 po­si­tions.

SunFire Off-Road built the cus­tom 3-link front and 4-link rear sus­pen­sion sys­tem us­ing 14-inch travel Fox coilovers, 21⁄2 -inch Fox Air Bumps, and Cur­rie An­tirocks front and rear to swing the two cus­tom-built Cur­rie En­ter­prises Rock­Jock 60 axles. The Rock­Jock 60s that were cus­tom-built for this rig have 1⁄2-inch-thick, 31⁄2-inch OD tubes. The front axle got a dual-shear steer­ing setup that was fab­ri­cated from 7075 alu­minum and a cus­tom truss. The rear axle was also for­ti­fied with a cus­tom truss. Both axles are spin­ning 5.13 ARB Air Lock­ers; chro­moly shafts are in the rear, while the front has RCV 300M shafts.

The axle ends sport Chevy 3⁄4-ton disc brakes in front and rear, and a master cylin­der booster sys­tem from a Dodge 1-ton pickup was swapped in to re­place the fac­tory setup. Goodyear MT/R 42/14.5R17 tires wrapped around 17-inch Hutchin­son Rock Mon­ster wheels tip the ends of the axles.

De­tails, De­tails

There is so much going on with Michael’s built 1979 CJ-7 that some of the de­tails get lost. Even the rear bench seat was re­moved to make way for the 19-gal­lon RCI alu­minum fuel cell and the Yeti cooler; and a cus­tom cargo rack was built into the cage over the fuel cell. We es­pe­cially liked things such as the heat shield wrap on almost the en­tire ex­haust sys­tem, and the brake lines that were run along the tops of the axle trusses to meet the vent and locker tubes so that all three could be se­cured to the up­per con­trol arms, keep­ing them all out of harm’s way.

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