A Newbie 'Wheeler Gets It Right
Acquiring his '82 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler at just 10 years old, Kyle Mills had his work cut out for him. Making up for what he lacked in years, however, the Saugus, California, resident had a preset notion of what his vehicle should look like. After all, he'd seen cool Jeeps. Why not build his to look like those? With help from his dad and through the investment of many a long weekend, Kyle did just that. Slowly but surely, Kyle's Scrambler began to take shape.
As with any project, completed is a relative term, expressed more in stages rather than being representative of the vehicle as a whole. Kyle's Scrambler project was no different. Since its first completion, which was more of a make-it-run effort using stock components and a donor I-6 engine to replace the four-cylinder that was sitting in pieces in the bed, Kyle's Scrambler has seen quite a few changes. The six-cylinder engine proved to be only a temporary fix and was soon replaced with something meatier. A trip to the FourXDoctor in Burbank, California, did the job as custom motor mounts were created to support the freshly acquired '94 Chevy LT1 V-8. The mill is cooled by a four-core radiator and dual PermaCool fans, and was installed using a Howell wiring harness. A 4L60E tranny built by JET Performance fell into place behind the LT1, and it's mated to a Dana 300 transfer case equipped with a Currie Twin-Stick shifter. Tranny performance is addressed with the addition of a B&M transmission cooler, and the 'case is supported by a custom crossmember built by FourXDoctor to offer an additional 2.5 inches of ground clearance.
Kyle left the front axle stock for the time being as he focused on the rear, where a reverse-rotation Currie 9-inch took up residence. The Currie unit was stuffed with 31-spline axleshafts, 4.11 gears, disc brakes, and a Detroit Locker. The new rear axle was then installed along with 2.5-inch Alcan leaf springs and a shackle reversal in a spring-over-axle configuration. The front received the same SOA treatment, and 35x12.50R15 Pro Comp Xterrain tires wrapped around 15x12.5-inch Centerline Helcats were installed under the new suspension. Rancho RS9000 shocks were also installed.
With his Scrambler running strong, Kyle launched into the vehicle's exterior. Another trip to the FourXDoctor resulted in custom front and rear bumpers and custom rocker guards. The front bumper houses a Warn HS9000i winch, PIAA lights, and a HiLift jack, while the rear incorporates a swing-away tire carrier that supports a spare 35-inch Pro Comp Xterrain and Centerline wheel. With body protection in place, Kyle dropped the rig off at Quality Body Works in Glendale, California, where it was shot with multiple coats of Hugger Orange. Moving to the interior, Line-X applied its durable coating to the sheetmetal before Bestop seats were installed in the front and rear. A full rollcage was designed and built by the FourXDoctor, and a Tuffy Security Box was installed beneath the rear seat. Kyle rebuilt the stock CJ-8 tilt column and shifter and added a LeCarra steering wheel to serve as the tiller. As a final step, a selection of Auto Meter gauges were installed in the dash along with a Pioneer stereo system.
With lots of time invested and more to come, Kyle produced this functional Scrambler to hit the trails. Starting with the basics and building what he could himself, Kyle reached this stage of completion just shy of the legal driving age. With a foundation to build on for years to come, we're certain that we'll see a few more variations of Kyle's Scrambler as they both grow old together.
SPECIFICATIONSOwner/hometown: Kyle Mills/Saugus, California
Year/make/model: '82 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
Engine: '94 LT1 350
Transmission: Jet Performance 4L60E
Transfer case: Dana 300
Frontend: Dana 30
Rearend: Currie 9-inch, Detroit Locker
Suspension: SOA with 2.5-inch Alcan leaf springs
Wheels/tires: 35x12.5R15 Pro Comp Xterrain/15x12.5-inch Centerline Hellcat