A family-Owned CJ-7
Sometimes we come across a certain Jeep that is just slightly different. That difference is sometimes “different bad,” while other times it is “different good.” Different bad sends us running, or at least smacking our forehead, saying why, why, why! When we first saw Javier Carrillo’s ’82 Jamboree Edition CJ-7 at Tierra Del Sol’s 50th Anniversary Desert Safari in 2012, we knew we liked it. It was definitely “different good.” In short, the orange paint color popped and this Jeep was built differently than most CJ-7s. Clearly, this guy knows how to think outside of the box. That is our kind of Jeep. There are just enough old-school parts and new-school style to get us to look closer and closer. Javier is a mechanic from San Diego, California, and he built this nice orange CJ-7 so he could play with family and friends in the desert. But the story is cooler than that. It turns out that the Jeep truly is a family affair, because it used to be owned by Javier’s father, who bought the CJ back in 1983 when the rig was a year old. Javier has spent the last several years building up this family-owned CJ for some serious trail action.
The stock chassis of the CJ-7 was beefed up with all the little strengthening and gusseting necessary here and there. The front coilover suspension was built by Frank at JJ Fabrication in Tijuana, Mexico. This suspension is made up of 14-inch-travel King coilover shocks bolted to large shock hoops that are firmly attached to the frame as well as tied together passing over the AMC I-6 in the engine compartment. Dual radius arms work in conjunction with a track bar to keep the axle centered under the Jeep. The frame ends of both radius arms are secured to the beefy center skidplate, which was fabricated out of 1⁄4-inch plate steel. The radius arms also feature large spherical rod ends on the frame ends and polyurethane bushings on the axle end. The front suspension runs three limiting straps—one short one in the center, and two long ones on each end to limit droop, but not flex. Up front the CJ’s frame was modified with a clean track bar mount and an additional crossmember running under the engine. This crossmember helps strengthen the whole front end and also acts as a mounting spot for that center limiting strap.
The steering box is held in place with both an aftermarket mounting bracket and a steering box brace that runs to the passenger-side framerail. Out back the rear suspension is a spring-over with some home-built packs. It’s clear that Javier has played with a rear traction bar in the past. That’s generally a must-have with spring-over suspensions on a CJ-7 like this, but the bar was not on when we shot the feature on the Jeep. Javier had the traction bar under the knife for a redesign. Rear shocks are 10-inch-travel units from Fox Racing. An older Smittybilt air compressor is tucked under an Optima Red Top battery under the hood. The battery provides plenty of power for cranking the engine while the compressor provides ample air to get those tires back up to street pressure. Out back a stock gas tank rides above a heavy-duty skidplate fabricated from plate steel. Stout rectangular-tube bumpers protect the front and rear of the Jeep. The front bumper holds a Warn 8,000-pound winch for any emergency extraction purposes.
The ’82 CJ-7 Jamboree is pushed down the trail by a venerable 258ci I-6.The Jeep came from the factory with a California emissions package, which included an unusual (for the time) serpentine accessory drive in lieu of old-school V-drive belts. Javier has added a Howell TBI system, a Borla header, and an after-cat exhaust to help the torquey six breathe. A Davis Unified Ignition replaced the factory distributor, helping the Jeep burn strong and efficiently. Backing the 4.2L is the stock T-5 transmission and a Dana 300 with a double-cardan rear driveshaft.
Both axles were sourced from a ’78 Scout II. The axles hold Detroit lockers and chromoly shafts from G2 spun by 4.88 gears. The front Dana 44 was extensively gusseted. Front and rear axles also wear Riddler Manufacturing diff covers to protect the differential vitals from any obstacles on the trail. Disc brakes ride on all four corners and provide easy stopping on- and off-road. Javier says the front discs came with the front axle and the rear discs were in an aftermarket kit, but he forgets the exact manufacturer. Tires are 35x12.50R15 Goodyear MT/R Kevlars mounted on Mickey Thompson 15x8 Classic wheels.
Body and Interior
The rollcage was built by Javier himself and not only has clean lines and welds, but also rear shoulder belts integrated to the rear family cage for rear passengers. All the seats are factory originals that have been recovered at some point in the past. The clean dash holds an Alpine head unit to share the tunes and a Cobra CB is mounted under the dash for on-trail communications. Delta H4 lights fill the factory grille and a pair of HID driving lights are mounted to windshield brackets. Javier is pretty sure the Jeep is a Jamboree Edition, and while the factory installed tachometer is a hint that that could be true, unfortunately the Jamboree dash plaque is missing. We’ll take his word for it. As for all that orange paint, Javier got the color from a Hot Wheels car he saw. He simply took the toy down to the paint shop and had the color matched before painting the Jeep.
Good, Bad, and What It’s For
Man, that nice Hot Wheels orange paint on a clean CJ-7 was enough to get our heart beating a bit quicker. Add in the different, yet well designed front suspension, and we were hooked. Honestly, we are not huge fans of spring-over in the rear of shorter Jeeps like a CJ-7 because of spring wrap and traction bar issues, but this did not seem to cause a problem for Javier in the flexy notches of the Truckhaven hills. This is one clean, well-built CJ with room for the family, and that’s just what it is for—fun with the wife and kids out in the desert. Javier reports that Corral Canyon and Borrego Springs are his favorite wheeling spots to play on with his family, friends, and his Jeep.
Why I Wrote This Feature
The truth is that I have a major soft spot for CJ-7s. My first car was an ’83 Renegade that my dad drove for several years. It was later painted Ford Fiesta red from the original Olympic white, and man, was it a looker. Unfortunately, by the time I got it the Jeep was not such a good runner, with almost constant fuel/air delivery problems. I sold it in the late ’90s at a time when I did not have time or the knowledge to work on it. I regret that decision still. If I still had it, I would be happy if it was half as nice as Javier’s ’82 Jamboree Edition CJ-7.
Vehicle: Jeep CJ-7
Engine: AMC 258ci I-6
Transfer Case: Dana 300
Suspension: Coilover shocks with radius arms and a track bar (front) spring over axle (rear)
Axles: Scout Dana 44s
Wheels: 15x8 inch Mickey Thompson Classic Lock
Tires: 35x12.50R15LT Goodyear MT/R Kevlar
Built for: Family fun off-road