It all started for Jeff back in 1992. At the time, he was running a one-man repair shop for a local auto parts store. With bigger dreams in mind, Jeff took the chance to start his own shop. At first he worked on all things automotive and then some - whatever it took to pay the bills was fair game. Then one day, while a Jeep was in the shop, someone asked if the shop specialized in Jeep work. Jeff replied to that question with a yes, and the word quickly traveled through the grapevine that Arabia's Overkill Fabrication was now open for quality custom fabrication.
In 1996, Jeff decided that the best way to advertise his shop would be to build his own Jeep and start hitting the trail. Since Jeff has always been a huge motorsports fan and has a special interest in monster trucks, he decided to build his CJ-7 in the fashion of his favorite monster rig, Grave Digger. The Jeep was painted by Derek of Concourse Autobody in Campbell, California. Then, Jeff had Quickway Vinyl Graphics of Morgan Hill, California, lay down the eye-catching purple and lime green graphics.
Initially, the project started out with an old-school, 4-inch spring-under lift and a custom shackle reversal, 35-inch tires, and a T-18 transfer case conversion. The factory Dana 30 front axle was replaced with a built Dana 44 with ram-assist steering. For safety, a custom rollcage was fabricated.
The engine was rebuilt by Diablo Engine in Dublin, California. The stock 4.2L was completely rebuilt and bored 0.030 inch over. A Mopar EFI injection system and throttle body spacer was added for dependability and performance. The exhaust system is custom-built with 2-1/4-inch DOM tubing and uses a Borla header and Purple Hornies muffler. A K&N air filter system helps the straight-six breathe a little easier.
The drivetrain consists of an NV4500 transmission and an Atlas II 4.3:1 transfer case. The rear axle is now a Rock Jock 60 with a Detroit Locker, and the front is a Rock Jock 60 with Wilwood disc brakes and F-450 outer knuckles. For trail-proven custom driveshafts, he went to Steve Johnson of South Bay Drivelines in San Jose, California. Maxxis 38x13x15 Creepy Crawler tires are wrapped over 15x10-inch Allied Rock-A-Thons.
Not only did Jeff fabricate his own steering system, he also fabbed his own three-link front suspension and track bar and custom-built the triangulated four-link rear suspension. He used Fox Shox with 14 inches of travel up front and Fox 14-inch Shox in the rear. The rear has a custom-fabricated tube frame but retains the original CJ-7 look. For stabilization, Jeff installed the rear and front Anti-Rock system. A custom aluminum fuel cell built by Jeff's brother Joe holds 24 gallons of fuel.
The interior was crafted by both Jeff and Joe. They Rhino-lined the tub and added Super Seats. The dash is full of Auto Meter gauges to monitor the engine and drivetrain. The new custom rollcage and front stinger were also Jeff's handiwork. The final powdercoating was completed by George at Fargen Industries of San Jose, California.
After nine years of building this rig and a custom-fabrication business, if you ask Jeff what he has learned along the way, he'll tell you it's to "do it once and do it right the first time." Jeff has now not only built his ultimate trail vehicle and rock rig but has also accomplished building a well-known Jeep fabrication shop along the way. Keep your eyes open for this rig on the trail, and if you spot it ask Jeff any question you want. We're sure he will stop and take the time to help you.