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1980 Jeep CJ-7 - Classic Fantastic

Posted in Features on November 1, 2011
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It feels a little odd calling a CJ-7 a classic. After all, isn’t that a term usually reserved for MB and GPW flatfenders, ’66-’77 Broncos, and FJ-40s? Since we’re well into the 21st century and there are fewer and fewer CJ-7s on the roads and trails, calling Larry Pederson’s 1980 CJ-7 a classic isn’t a stretch; it’s reality.

Pederson, a welding lead man from Lakeside, California, has been ’wheeling for 45 years. That much trail time adds up to a well-developed sense of what works and what doesn’t. It’s also time enough to develop individual tastes and preferences.

If you’re looking for high-zoot axles, a linked suspension, coilover shocks, and a fire-breathing LS engine you’ll have to look elsewhere. While those big-ticket items are integral parts of many hardcore trail rigs we’ve seen, they’re not always necessary. This is especially true when you’ve built your Jeep as an overall package that works well for your needs. There’s a lot of wisdom in the phrase, “keep it simple, stupid!”

Thirty-three inch Mud King tires don’t strain the axles the way bigger tires do. As such, a pair of Dana 44s is a well-suited match to the rolling stock. The 33’s also don’t require much lift, so Larry was able to create the needed clearance using no-name 2-1/2-inch spring-under lift springs combined with heavy-duty lift shackles.

There’s a carbureted 304 V-8 under the hood and the original Dana 300 is also in place under the Jeep. Larry decided to go big with the transmission, though: it’s an NV4500.

The color scheme came of “opportunity” after Larry rolled the CJ and had to replace the hood and windshield frame. The black-and-yellow stands out, yet doesn’t beg for too much attention.

Even in light of the coordinated approach to building a well-balanced rig, the coolest thing about this Jeep is its driver’s mindset. Most of us can’t seem to stop ourselves from upgrading and modifying our rigs. It seems like a never-ending cycle leading to as much frustration as it does joy. Not Larry. He’s an island of serenity in an ocean of upgraders. His take? “I would build her just the same. She does everything I ask of her.” Props to you, sir.

Vehicle: 1980 Jeep CJ-7
Owner/Hometown: Larry Pederson/Lakeside, California
Engine: AMC 304 V-8
Induction: 2 bbl. carburetor
Transmission: New Venture Gear NV4500
Transfer case/low range ratio: Dana 300/2.62:1
Front suspension: 2-1/2-inch spring-under lift springs, lift shackles, Pro Comp ES 3000 shocks
Rear suspension: 2-1/2-inch spring-under lift springs, lift shackles, Pro Comp ES 3000 shocks
Ring and Pinion: 4:11
Front Differential: Detroit Locker
Rear Differential: ARB Air Locker
Tires: 33x12.50R15 Mud Kings
Wheels: 15-inch steel wagon wheels

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