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1984 Jeep Wrangler CJ7 - Hypothermia

Posted in Features on January 1, 2002
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If a person gets stuck in severely cold conditions, he or she may develop hypothermia, a condition that turns skin blue and can cause physical damage. It is almost always a sign that someone has been trapped in brutal winter weather with extreme temperatures. While these may sound like poor conditions for a person, they are ideal for Jeeps. After all, Jeeps were built to conquer every type of terrain under any type of condition. Frank Roberto's blue-skinned project can often be found playing in the snow. Frank, who is from Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, bought the '84 CJ-7 three years ago and drove it stock for almost two months before rebuilding it. When he bought it, the Jeep was stock and in excellent condition. He and best friend Tony Livingston spent 800 hours over the following nine months, making the CJ a year-round 'wheeler.

The stock engine was replaced with a Chevy 350, which was balanced and blueprinted by Rod Allard Racing Engines in Spokane, Washington. Rod Allard also bored the V-8 0.030 over and installed a Comp cam. The engine uses an Edelbrock Performer intake, a Quadrajet four-barrel carb, and an HEI electronic setup from Davis Unified Ignition. Jet Hot-coated Hooker headers connect to the glasspack exhaust, which was custom-bent to tuck tightly to the CJ's body, keeping it safe from harm on the trail. Backing the 350 is an SM465 four-speed transmission, which Frank and Tony rebuilt themselves. Then they followed up with a rebuilt Dana 300 transfer case, which was mated to the four-speed, courtesy of Advance Adapter. The driveline is comprised of two custom units from Six States: the rear shaft has three U-joints with a CV, while the front uses two heavy-duty U-joints with an extra-long slip yoke. All of the steering rods were built from chrome-moly.

This vehicle sits about 13 inches higher than stock due to a combination of a 4-inch lift, a 1-inch body lift, and 36-inch Super Swampers. Frank and Tony decided to go with a springover setup, using Wrangler heavy-duty springs up front and Pro Comp leaf springs in the rear. Rancho RS 9000 shocks sit at all four corners.

The front Dana 44 axle was then shortened to 55 inches and equipped with 4.56 gears, Warn axles and hubs, and a Lock-Rite locker. For better stopping ability, Chevy disc brakes joined the frontend. The Dana 60 in back was also cut to 55 inches and then filled with Currie 35-spline axles, 4.56 gears, an ARB Air Locker, and Ford 9-inch axle bearings and flanges to accept the larger bearings. Currie-built Ford Explorer discs rounded out the modifications. Finally, Chris Ledgerwood of Otis Orchards, Washington, took the 15x10-inch Mepco bead locks, powdercoated them bright yellow, then had them wrapped in a set of 36x12.50R15 Super Swamper SX tires.

To make room for the Wrangler fender flares, Roberto opened up the wheelwells on the steel body. Brad Shrum, Frank's friend, and an expert welder, custom-built the front and rear bumpers. The front bumper incorporates the ARB air tank, while the rear has both a receiver hitch and tow hooks; both bumpers were incorporated into the frame to strengthen the overall structure, and the entire frame was then rewelded. Chris wrapped things up by giving the Jeep a good dose of Ladic Blue paint, a factory color found on Cherokees in the late '90s. Brad also fabricated the winch plate, which supports the Warn HS9500i.

Frank wanted his CJ's interior to retain a relatively stock look, so the upgrades he made were key, but not over the top. He gave the Jeep tilt steering and replaced the stock top with a Bestop Super Top. There are Steel Horse gray seats in the front and rear, and a Steel Horse center console up front. Rich Gortzina of Spokane built the six-point rollcage. Frank purchased a stainless steel dash, which he proceeded to fill with gauges.

Frank was introduced to 'wheeling four years ago, and once he saw the beauty of the backcountry, there was no going back. Frank had been an avid drag racer in Southern California and has built his share of cars, including a Camaro, a '41 Willys (coupe), and an Anglia. Now he hits the trails with his club, the North Idaho Trailblazers, every month, and goes out with other friends on numerous runs. He has more plans for this CJ, including the possibility of EFI, but for the most part, he has it just the way he wants it.

Specifications

Owner/hometown: Frank Roberto/Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Make/model: '84 Jeep CJ-7
Engine: Chevy 350
Induction: Quadrajet four-barrel carb
Transmission: SM465 four-speed
Transfer case: Dana 300
Frontend: Dana 44 with Warn axles, Lock-Rite locker
Rearend: Dana 60 with Currie
35-spline axles,
ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion: 4.56
Suspension: Springover conversion
Tires/wheels: 36x12.50R15 TSL Super
Swamper SX/15x10
Mepco Bead locks

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