In­de­pen­dent-Ac­tion CJ-7

Build­ing it your way works well

Jp Magazine - - Table Of Contents - By Stu­art A. Bour­don jped­i­[email protected]­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Stu­art A. Bour­don

This rig be­gan life as a 1976 CJ-7, but Pat Gremil­lion knew his Jeep had to be to­tally

dif­fer­ent—not like any­thing else seen on the trails. Pat’s pro­fes­sional fab­ri­ca­tion and weld­ing skills came into play in a big way, and the trans­for­ma­tion be­gan in 2004. It’s been in a state of flux, get­ting al­tered, up­graded, and up­dated ev­ery once in a while, but most of the orig­i­nal work is still there. We cap­tured Pat’s Jeep on film (in a dig­i­tal sense) at the 2018 Easter Jeep Sa­fari. It’s made up of parts from a Ford Mus­tang, Hum­mer H1, CJ-5, and CJ-7, just to name a few. While not purely Jeep, it is a me­chan­i­cal dream made true, and enough of the pri­mor­dial DNA ex­ists to get our at­ten­tion.

A mildly built 1996 Ford Mus­tang 5.0L V-8 was mated to a C4 three-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion through an Ad­vance Adapters kit. The C4 car­ries an Art Carr 900-rpm stall-speed torque con­verter, and a Bronco re­mote trans

fluid cooler is mounted in the Jeep’s nose. Split­ting the power is the job of an Ad­vance Adapters Al­tas 4.3 trans­fer case. Tom Wood’s Cus­tom Drive Shafts did both spin­ners, but the front ’shaft is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est. Although the H1 driv­e­train is a full-time four-wheel-drive sys­tem, the new cus­tom front drive­shaft fea­tures a Remco dis­con­nect at the dif­fer­en­tial and can be dis­con­nected on the top end at the trans­fer case. The Jeep can go down the high­way at 65 mph with no vi­bra­tions in two-wheel drive.

Its orig­i­nal CJ-7 sus­pen­sion was gut­ted, and the frame was cut here and there to cre­ate a hy­brid chas­sis that’s mostly hand­formed steel tube and 1996 Hum­mer H1 run­ning gear. Pat traded a welder for the re­mote-reser­voir coilover shocks, and then he had them re­built and tuned by Walker Evans. Keep in mind that all the tube work was hand-drawn; he didn’t have a ben­der. A 115-inch wheel­base was cre­ated us­ing two Hum­mer H1 por­tal axles (1.92 hub ra­tio). The axle cen­ters are loaded with 2.73 ARB Air Lock­ers for an over­all axle ra­tio of 5.24:1. Falken Wild­peak M/T 38x13.50R17LT tires are stuck on Hutchin­son bead­lock wheels.

A cus­tom ex­haust sys­tem is tucked away be­hind frame tubes for pro­tec­tion, and cus­tom skid­plates and tube frames cover ma­jor vi­tal or­gans. A PSC hy­draulic-as­sist kit with GM cross­over setup steers the wheels. Beard seats and a cus­tom rollcage sur­round pas­sen­gers, a min­i­mal­is­tic cus­tom dash holds a good mix of gauges, and a gated Art Carr shifter works the C4. The rear com­part­ment is filled with a stor­age box, a Pull Pal and other as­sorted ex­trac­tion equip­ment, a fire ex­tin­guisher, and a Power Tank. All of the fend­ers, bumpers, and doors are cus­tom-made, and to top it off, Pat used a CJ-5 grille up front be­cause he liked the way it looked on the nar­rowed nose.

When asked about the color, the an­swer was “Ex­ten­sion Cord Or­ange.” We like it. If you’ve never seen Pat’s CJ-7/ Mus­tang/H1 hy­brid in the wild, then you need to get to more ma­jor Jeep events.

It’s never re­ally stopped evolv­ing bit by bit since it was orig­i­nally built, and it has been ap­pear­ing at Jeep events all over the coun­try ever since. It’s al­ways parked in or nearby the Pull Pal booth, and if Pat is around, he’ll be more than happy to give you a tour.

The cus­tom body and fen­der work al­lowed the easy fit­ting of 38x13.50R17LT Falken Wild­peak tires cap­tured by 17-inchHutchin­son bead­lock wheels.

In­te­rior ap­point­ments are min­i­mal­is­tic. Beard seats, a fairly bare dash, the im­por­tant aux­il­iary gauges, a stock cen­ter-mounted speedo, an Art Carr shifter for the C4, and brake line lock switches just out of sight in front of the Tuffy cen­ter con­sole are the high­lights.

An in­board brake on the dif­fer­en­tial is one of the ad­van­tages gained from the Hum­mer H1 axle swap. The in­board brake ac­com­mo­dates the por­tal axles, re­duces un­sprung weight, and im­proves han­dling be­cause it doesn’tplace twist­ing force on the sus­pen­sion.

Pos­si­bly the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of this build are the Hum­mer H1 por­tal axles used to re­place the fac­tory CJ-7 driv­e­train. The 1.92:1 gear­boxes at the axle ends take the 2.37:1 gears on the ARB Air Lock­ers and de­liver a fi­nal axle ra­tio of 5.4:1.

A 5.0L V-8 from a 1996 Mus­tang gets things mov­ing, pass­ing the power down through a cus­tom-built C4 three-speed trans with a 900-rpm stall-speed Art Carr torque con­verter. It’s then split by an Ad­vance Adapters At­las4.3 trans­fer case and sent to the axles through cus­tom Tom Wood’s drive­shafts.

Where the rear seats were a long time ago now sit a Power Tank, emer­gency first aid kit, fire ex­tin­guisher, Pull Pal, cus­tom fuel tank, spare fuel con­tain­ers, and cases filled with tools, spare parts, and other gear.

Hand-bent, welded, and gus­seted at crit­i­cal joints, the cus­tom tube-frame struc­ture Pat cre­ated for his Jeep CJ-7 re­placed the orig­i­nal frame. It made wedg­ing in the en­gine, trans, and trans­fer case sim­pler; it also made it eas­ier to cre­ate the 115-inch wheel­base with a cus­tom sus­pen­sion and Hum­mer H1 por­tal axles.

A PSC hy­draulic-as­sist GM cross­over steer­ing sys­tem makes a huge dif­fer­ence in the han­dling qual­ity of the Jeep/H1 hy­brid, not only on the high­way, but also when forg­ing ahead on hard-core trails with those 38-inch meats.

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