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1976 Jeep CJ-7 - Firecracker-Red

Posted in Features on November 1, 2004 Comment (0)
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These days, there is a gamut of radically modified tube Jeeps at one extreme and the ever-present sea of stockish Wranglers at the other. So, when a clean, classic CJ pops up from the noise, it's easy to take notice. Such is the case with Don Munzer's '76 CJ-7. This Jeep is fast approaching its 30th birthday, but still wears its original Firecracker Red factory paint laid on in the Toledo, Ohio, plant where it was built.

Living in the Phoenix area, Don is surrounded by premier rock trails, offering plenty of hard-core challenges. The temptation to go taller, bigger, and more extreme has played in Don's mind, but he decided to stick with a list of modifications to improve on his rig's performance, while still making it fun to use as a daily driver or for longer trips to 'wheeling spots. Just a couple of years ago, Don packed up his family of four, hitched his small utility trailer to the back, and headed to Moab, 550 miles to the north.

Little by little, Don has made purposeful mods to his Jeep to allow him to explore plenty of Arizona's backroads and reasonably challenging trails in the desert. The stock AMC 258 was getting a little sleepy a few years ago, so he installed a rebuilt long-block. To improve throttle response, fuel mileage, and off-road performance, Don installed a Howell EFI kit and a GM HEI distributor. He also converted the stock A/C compressor to air-supply duty, and he uses it for tire inflation and running air tools. The front bumper serves double duty as a reservoir tank.

Behind the engine sits a Ford T-18 with the requisite 6.36:1 First gear, and power is split fore and aft through a Tera Low-equipped Dana 20 ith a trail-friendly 3.15:1 Low-range gearset. Front and rear axles were scavenged from an '84 Jeep. The front has a Dana 30 wide track with a Lock Right, and out back is a full-float converted and trussed AMC 20 wide track with a Detroit Locker. Both axles spin 4.56 gears and get the power out to Warn Premium hubs at all four corners. Up front rides a heavy-duty steering setup from Desert Fab, along with a Desert Steel steering brace.

To help on the trails, a front 4-inch Pro Comp lift combines with a Black Diamond lift in the rear to help the tub clear the 35-inch BFG Mud-Terrains on 10-inch chrome-spoke wheels. Adjustable Rancho 9000s sit at each corner to tame the leaf springs, and a Warn X8000i is always available should some extra motivation be required.

Inside the tub, the focus is on comfort, function, and safety. Long drives and trail runs are easily tackled sitting in the Z bucket seats, compliments of a '98 Camaro. Rear passengers can also ride along in the fold-and-tumble. Hunter Off Road in Tempe, Arizona, built the rollcage for occupant safety, and Durango stainless guards help provide rocker protection.

Depending on the weather and time of year, this Jeep may sport a Bestop Supertop or Bikini top and tonneau cover. Don manages to go out into the backcountry on a regular basis to explore some of the local mining trails, or find adventure along some of the more challenging routes. He's found a way to take a classic vehicle and upgrade much of the mechanics to higher performance standards, without losing sight of its main purpose as an all-around 4WD recreational rig.

SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle: '76 {{{Jeep CJ}}}-7
Owner/hometown: Don Munzer/
  Tempe, Arizona
Engine: AMC 258
Induction: Howell TBI fuel-injection
Transmission: Ford T-18, 6.36:1 First gear
Transfer case: Dana 20, Tera Low 3.15:1
  Low range
Frontend: Dana 30 wide track
Rearend: AMC 20 wide track,
  full float
Suspension: Front: 4-inch Pro Comp;
  rear: Black Diamond/
  Rancho {{{9000}}} shocks
Ring-and-pinion: 4.56; front: Lock Right;
  rear: Detroit
Tires/wheels: 35x12.50-15 BFG Mud-
  Terrains/15x10-inch
  chrome spokes

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