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1983 Jeep CJ-7 Built To Blaze Trails

Posted in Features on December 12, 2016
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We love Jeeps—all kinds, all sizes, and all styles. Sure, like most, we have our favorites, and those are primarily multi-purpose rigs. It’s the Jeep that can cruise the highway and then hit the dirt to explore a trail with equal aplomb that really impresses us. That’s not to say a lot of our favorites are never trailered to far-away trailheads, or that they are not kept clean and shiny. Just because it’s not a “beater” or the owner would rather drive all day in the comfort of a nice tow rig with the Jeep securely strapped to a flatbed doesn’t mean it can’t wheel with the best of them.

Just such a Jeep is Lakeside, California-resident Kevin Pinciotti’s ’83 Jeep CJ-7. Much of this rig is totally custom; it’s been through a number of changes during Kevin’s decades of ownership; and has been repainted a few times, but today it wears a coat of gleaming Porsche Red. It even has some touches of chrome here and there. However, when we met Kevin on the Rubicon Trail during the 2016 Jeep Jamboree, the CJ-7 was crawling through the rock-bound terrain like a champ.

A custom upper shock mount spans the engine compartment in which the nearly stock 4.2L (258ci) inline-six engine resides. An Optima YellowTop battery supplies the juice, while an ARB high-output onboard compressor delivers air pressure instantly when needed to the ARB air lockers in the front and rear axles.

The 4.2L (258ci) inline-six that powers the CJ-7 has remained fairly stock, although an aftermarket Mopar fuel-injection system (which replaced the factory carb), Borla headers, and a custom exhaust system give it impressive performance and sound quality. The rig muscles into action and a deep rumble exits the pipe when Kevin puts his foot down firmly. Backing up that six-pack is a T-4 four-speed manual trans and an Advanced Adapters Atlas 2 (4.3:1) twin-stick transfer case. Tom Wood’s driveshafts hook up to Currie RockJock axles with disc brakes. A Currie 44 that’s 8 inches wider than the factory axle sits up front, and a high-pinion 60 (also 8 inches wider than the factory axle) is slung out back. A hydraulic Howe steering system helps direct the KMC 17x9-inch beadlocks wrapped with BFGoodrich 37/12.50R17LT MT KM2 tires.

A custom four-link rear setup swings the rear Currie RockJock 60 and features a crossmember/skid plate that protects the leading ends of the two center suspension links from trail damage. Large rock lights are positioned on both sides of the undercarriage just ahead of the rear wheelwell.
Custom sheetmetal work makes up the inner fenderwells and provides a passageway for the front Fox 14-inch coilover remote-reservoir shocks to their custom upper mounts. Note the rock light imbedded in the inner fenderwell—there’s one on each side.
The lower mounts for the Fox coilovers on the Currie RockJock 60 rear axle are placed behind the axle tube to keep them out of harm’s way on the trail.

The CJ-7’s chassis has been highly modified. Using a whole lot of tube, the wheelbase was stretched to 105 inches, and custom three-link-front and four-link-rear suspensions were created to sling those Currie axles. Fox 14-inch coilover shocks with remote reservoirs do damping duty front and rear, and a Currie Antirock sway bar helps manage the front axle when the CJ-7 is not on the rocks. Drew Fab of Lakeside, California, performed the custom fabrication and tube work on the chassis, as well as a few other places on Kevin’s Jeep. If you closely check out the photos, you’ll notice that Kevin’s ’83 CJ-7 has some pretty serious body mods too. The full “safari-style” rollcage (also the work of Drew Fab) protects the Jeep’s occupants, supports a cargo rack atop, and incorporates a cargo platform behind. The front and rear bumpers and spare tire carrier are also Drew Fab customs. Custom body armor and fenders also box the four corners of the Jeep.

The cockpit of the ’83 CJ-7 features a Lecarra steering wheel, Corbeau bucket seats with Crow harnesses, Dakota Digital instruments, Lowrance GPS, CB, Alpine stereo system, and monitor for the undercarriage camera mounted just under the front bumper. A thumb-lever on the trans shift lever provides engine-speed control for winching situations.
A third Corbeau bucket seat with Crow harness is mounted in the rear of the Jeep’s tub and completely surrounded by the custom safari-style rollcage tied into the frame.

The interior shares some Drew Fab custom work as well, with a unique three-seat arrangement and nice sheetmetal work around the third seat located in the rear of the Jeep’s tub. The cockpit features Dakota Digital instrumentation, a Lecarra steering wheel, Lowrance GPS, CB, Alpine stereo system, engine-speed-control thumb-lever on the gear shift, and a front under-body camera to help Kevin negotiate tricky situations.

Good, Bad, And What It’s For

We’ve seen Kevin’s ’83 CJ-7 wheel, and it’s the real deal. Yes, he likes a bit of chrome here and there, but in our opinion, it’s not overdone. Kevin uses the Jeep for just about every type of trail, ranging from the Rubicon to San Diego–area runs such as TDS, so love it, like it, or hate it, this thing can rock.

Why I Wrote This Feature

There’s a lot to like about a Jeep, especially a classic such as Kevin Pinciotti’s CJ-7, that has a nice blend of custom fabrication, hardcore wheeling gear, creature comforts, and sharp looks. And who doesn’t like red? After all, the Jeep is the all-American sports car.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: ’83 Jeep CJ-7
Engine: 4.2L (258ci) I-6 with Mopar EFI
Transmission: T-4 4-speed manual
Transfer Case: Atlas 2 (4.3:1)
Axles: Currie RockJock 44 front; Currie RockJock 60 rear; 4.88 ARB air lockers
Suspension: Custom 3-link front; 4-link rear; Fox 14-inch coilover remote-reservoir shocks
Wheels: 17x9 KMC beadlocks
Tires: 37/12.50R17 BFGoodrich MT KM2

The nose of the ’83 CJ-7 shines with a chromed grill and Lumen LED headlights. A Warn 9,500-pound capacity winch is perched on the custom front bumper. The hydraulic Howe steering system manages those 37-inch BFGoodrich MT KM2 tires and 17x9 KMC beadlocks on the ends of the Currie RockJock 44 front axle.
The custom three-link front suspension system incorporates a forked lower link that has a single connection to the front axle, two mounts to the frame, and a skidplate/shield to protect valuable components such as the engine’s oil pan, exhaust, and front driveshaft.
A spider web of custom tube and sheetmetal work can be seen in the rear fenderwells. Some of that tubing creates the upper-loop-mount for the rear Fox 14-inch coilover remote-reservoir shocks, while other tubes tie together the rollcage and frame.
The rear corner of this ’83 CJ-7 shows off some of the custom fab work such as the rear bumper, swing-out tire carrier, safari-style rollcage, and creative body carving to allow full wheel travel without interruption.
A cargo rack sits atop the well-built (you might almost say overbuilt, if it weren’t designed for full protection of the three occupants, which oftentimes includes Kevin’s daughter in that third seat) custom rollcage that’s integrated into the Jeep’s frame.
Tucked up behind the rear axle is a GenRight 4-inch setback fuel tank with skidplate. The wheelbase stretch to 105 inches made this a necessary and desired modification to Kevin’s ’83 CJ-7.
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