CJs are timeless. The older they get, the better they get. The fact is the Jeep CJ is an icon that has a secure hold on the history of the Jeep culture we experience today. Todd Harveston of Vista, California, recognized this and kept his ’78 Jeep CJ-5 since he was a teenager. For nearly three decades, Todd has built, rebuilt, changed, and upgraded the Jeep, and it’s seen many miles and plenty of trails.
During that time, Todd continued to build and rebuild his AMC 304 V-8 powered Jeep. “It seems to get a facelift every five years or so,” he explained. His primary goal has always been to pay attention to the little details, do the work right, and have a good time with it. Harveston built the entire rig in his own shop.
The V-8 breathes through an AFI two-barrel throttle body injection unit and aluminum Edelbrock Performer intake. Exhaust gases are moved out through a custom welded H-pipe and Thrush muffler exhaust system. A high-flow oil pump, custom tuned ECM with custom wiring harness, and Champion plugs and MSD wires spruce up the V-8 a bit. A T-18A manual transmission with custom shortened shifter and Dana 20 with TeraLow 3:1 low range back up the 304.
The Rubicon Express 4 1/2-inch suspension lift kit, with a front shackle reversal, Bilstein 7100 shocks in front and Rancho RS9000s in rear, and a Daystar 1-inch body lift keep the 36-inch Super Swamper IROKs and 15-inch steel beadlocks free and clear to grab traction. The Dana 30 front and AMC 20 rear axles are filled with a 4.10 EZ Locker and ARB Air Locker, respectively. Moser axleshafts and custom Tom Wood’s driveshafts complete the drivetrain.
The body of the CJ-5 features a custom six-point cage, front stinger bumper (holding a Smittybilt winch), and a rear bumper with an integrated cargo basket and spare tire carrier. Inside the Durabak-coated tub, we found a Speedway steering wheel, a full complement of VDO gauges, emergency fuel shut-off, and sealed switches. Extra camo material was purchased when making the custom sunshade and was provided to the folks at PRP to have custom covers built. The ammo-can center console with custom arm padding rounds out the look.
Some time ago, the Jeep was nicknamed The Infidel. During the CJs most recent rebuild, Todd fully embraced it. The digital desert camouflage was laid down using custom-cut magnet sheets and MARPAT military rattle can paint. He shared, “I cut the shapes out of the magnet and used both pieces, turning them around at different points to make the whole design random.”
Why This JeepWith so many years of wheeling under its belt, Todd’s Jeep has been all over the western deserts and the Sierra Nevada, and even up to the Oregon Dunes. It’s been through several rebuilds and styles, but the plain, yet plucky, little CJ-5 shows no signs of slowing.
HARD FACTS:Vehicle: ’78 Jeep CJ-5
Engine: AMC 304ci V-8, AFI two-barrel throttle body injection, Edelbrock Performer Intake, custom tuned ECM with custom wiring harness
Transmission: T-18A manual with custom shorted shifter
Transfer Case: Dana 20 with TeraLow 3:1 low-range
Suspension: Rubicon Express 4 1/2-inch suspension system, custom front shackle reversal, Bilstein 7100 with reservoir shocks front and Rancho RS 9000 rear
Axles: (front) Dana 30 with EZ-Locker and 4:10 to 1 gears; (rear) AMC 20 with ARM air locker, Moser axleshafts and 4:10 to 1 ratio gears
Wheels: 15x10 16-bolt beadlock steelies
Tires: 36x15x15 Super Swamper IROKs