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1987 Jeep Wrangler CJ7 - Young & Restless

Posted in Features on February 1, 2002
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Some people just have a knack for 4x4 fabrication. While some toil desperately with an idea that they just can't seem to turn into a reality, others - who are often among the seemingly few - possess the ability to build just about any design they can imagine. We recently came across one such person, Dustin Trent of Fallbrook, California, along with his '87 Jeep CJ-7/YJ. Even more amazing than his Jeep, however, was the age he began the buildup: 14 years old. And now at age 17, he's still adding to his creation.

After tearing the CJ-7 down to the frame, Dustin sandblasted and painted it before strapping the rails with 1/8-inch flat steel for increased strength. The leaf spring mounts were also re-positioned, and custom CJ-7 leaf packs were hung from them. Dustin then had a Dana 44 built using a Detroit Locker and 4.56 gears from Unitrax in Anaheim, California, and built his own Dana 60, equipping them with the like. The Dana 60 also features stainless steel axle tubes, which started as 12-inch solid tubes that Dustin turned down to fit the housing. He also installed a Warn full-floating hub kit. Rear axle wrap is controlled by a custom traction bar, built using rod ends from FK Bearings; four-wheel disc brakes were sourced from a 1/2-ton Chevy truck.

For engine performance, Dustin went with a GM Performance Parts 350 small-block and outfitted it with a Holley 750 carburetor and a custom-built five-core radiator. The motor mounts, the alternator, the power steering, the water pump brackets, and the aluminum fan shroud were all designed and fabricated by Dustin. To channel power to the ground, a Turbo 400 trans and Dana 20 transfer case were installed.

With the chassis rolling on 33x14-inch Super Swamper TSL Boggers wrapped around 15x10-inch steel wheels, and damped using eight Rancho RS 5000 shocks mounted to custom shock towers, Dustin set the '95 Wrangler tub atop it using urethane body mounts from Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.). The tub was painted Chevy Indigo Blue Metallic by Laz Auto Body and Repair, along with an AJ fiberglass CJ front clip. The clip was mounted to an engine cage, which is an extension of the eight-point rollcage within the cab and tied to the frame, which Dustin constructed using 2-inch tubing. JAZ Products seats and five-point harnesses were mounted to the cage. Dustin also fabbed an aluminum dash and set it up with Ultra Lite Auto Meter gauges and aircraft-style flip-up toggles. Wiring came easily through the use of a Painless Wiring harness. Final touches came in the way of a M.O.R.E. steering box support, a Hayden oil cooler, a B&M tranny cooler, and KC HiLiTES. Fuel supply is stored in a 22-gallon Fuel Safe Racing Cell mounted in the rear, just ahead of the rear axle.

Like we said, this kid knows what he's doing, and at just 17 years of age, we can only imagine what other 4x4 building plans he may have up his sleeve. With a lot of hard work and everything to look forward to, Dustin, along with the help of his Dad, whom Dustin says made it all possible, created what turned out as "a nice off-road machine." "It performs like a dream and handles everything I challenge," says Dustin. But, of course, it does, Dustin. That's what it's built for.

Owner/hometown: Dustin Trent/
Fallbrook, California
Make/model: '87 {{{Jeep CJ}}}-7/
'95 {{{Wrangler}}}
Engine: Chevy 350 V-8
Induction: Holley 750
Transmission: Turbo 400
Transfer case: Dana 20
Frontend: Dana 44, Detroit Locker
Rearend: Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Ring-and-pinion: 4.56
Suspension: Custom {{{CJ}}}-7 leaf
springs, Rancho
{{{5000}}} shocks
Tires/wheels: 15x10-inch steel/
33x14 Super Swamper
TSL Boggers

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