JP Off Road Rebuilds A Legend
The Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 was first introduced in 1981 and only experienced a five-year production run before being discontinued to make way for the newly designed Jeep Wrangler YJ. Only 27,792 units were produced, leaving throngs of collectors and enthusiasts a small amount of factory CJ-8s for restoring and building. Though mechanical parts are widely available because the Scrambler shared the majority of its drivetrain and mechanical components with the popular CJ-5 and CJ-7 series Jeeps, original Scrambler tubs are notoriously in short supply. Consequently, when Dave Knight of JP Off Road had the notion to build an extended wheelbase Jeep with three rows of seating to accommodate his family along the trail, something had to be done to remedy this Scrambler tub shortage.
Already in the business of manufacturing aluminum replacement and competition Jeep bodies, Knight decided it was time to add the popular Scrambler edition to the lineup. Hence, the aluminum Scrambler tub was born. Beginning with the remains of a rusted-out Scrambler body and chassis and a pile of miscellaneous Jeep TJ parts, Knight intended to integrate a custom stretched frame from Advanced Frame Works (AFW) and one of the first JP Off Road aluminum Scrambler tubs off the assembly line to create a functional, coiled 4x4 with enough room for his whole family. With the aluminum tub already constructed at the factory in Spokane, Washington, Knight contacted AFW to acquire one of its mandrel-bent TJ frames made from 3/16-inch-thick steel. AFW boxed the length of the frame for strength, stretched it in the appropriate sections to accommodate the longer aluminum tub and wheelbase, and placed the body mounts and associated bracketry accordingly. The new tub was then situated atop the frame, and the bolting up of parts ensued. A trip to Tri County Gear in Pomona, California, resulted in a six-point family rollcage constructed from 1-3/4- and 2-inch 0.120 wall DOM tubing. The 'cage was powdercoated red before being bolted in to place. Ahead of the firewall, a reproduction hood and fenders were installed, along with an original Scrambler grille and windshield frame.
Launching into the drivetrain, Knight delved into his pile of spare TJ parts and situated Dana 30 and Dana 44 axles in the front and rear. The differentials were stuffed with 4.56 gears from Superior Axle & Gear and ARB Air Lockers. To locate the axles, Knight used Currie Enterprises control arms, which were included in a Currie 4-inch suspension system. With Currie coils positioned in all four corners, Rancho RS9000 shocks were installed, as were the 35x12.50R15 Goodyear MT/R meats wrapped around 15x8-inch stock Jeep alloy wheels.
Maintaining a bit of the vehicle's heritage, Knight installed a 4.2L 258 six-cylinder, which was the most widely used factory engine found in Jeep Scramblers. The mill was outfitted with a Mopar Performance Parts MPI fuel-injection system and a dual Optima battery setup from Wrangler Northwest Power Products. Bellhousing and adapters from Advance Adapters were used to place a 700-R4 auto transmission behind the 258 engine and mate an NP241C transfer case.