Yep, you read that right. Dave Gifford of Las Vegas squeezed a 6.7L stroker V-8 into his ’97 Jeep TJ Wrangler. The first thing we said when we saw it, was “can you fire it up so we can hear it?” That sweet rumble was like candy to a kid. Dave joined us for the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep, and we were sure glad he did. However, the stroked engine that began as a Ram 5.9 V-8 wasn’t the only thing about his Jeep that we found interesting.
From the ground up, Dave’s handiwork was top-flight. BFGoodrich 37-12.50R17 KM2 Mud-Terrain’s were mounted to Trail Ready 17x9-inch (4-inch backspace) wheels. A Dynatrac Super 44 center section with 3-inch tubes, 30-spline Dutchmen ’shafts, and CTM U-joints sat up front. A Currie 35-spline rearend with housing mods and bracket fab done by Dave, and GenRight lower link mounts brought up the rear. Both carried 5.13 gears. An OX-Locker was used in front, and an ARB Air Locker helped out in back. The front brakes were ’78 Ford hubs and discs with Chevy calipers, and Wilwood brakes managed the rearend.
Dave stretched the TJ’s wheelbase to 104 inches by making custom spring, bumpstop, link, and shock mounts, as well as home-built links using Ruff Stuff tubing bungs. The rear truss, the upper links, and the shock brackets for the front Fox 2.0 remote-reservoir and rear Fox 2.0 coilover shocks were built by Dave. A GenRight Crawler stretch tank that can hold 23 gallons of fuel was tucked up into the rear of the frame. Currie 3-inch front springs and a 1-inch body lift were in the mix too. The stock steering box received RedNeck Ram mods, and a PSC hydro-assist steering system made it easy to turn the 35-inch rubber.
The TJ’s body received no less a custom treatment. The front bumper was another Dave-built custom, and although the rear bumper brand is unknown, Dave added shackle mounts and a swing-out spare tire carrier. Dave created the rock sliders too. GenRight Hi-Line front fender flares, Moab-Fab rear blanks with GenRight flares, and GenRight inner fenders all work together to make room for the tires and keep debris off the vitals. Dave did the paint in his garage, creating a nice graphic using a white base with charcoal gray and Grabber Blue (a Mustang color) stripes. The interior is basically stock, except for the JVC stereo system and the PRP seats, which are heated and covered in black/gray/blue tweed.
So, about that 6.7L V-8. In front of the custom driveshafts from Dan’s Driveline, 3.8:1 low-range Atlas II t-case, and AX-15 five-speed manual transmission with a Ram clutch sat a seriously built stroker. The machine work and short-block assembly was done by Fultz’s Machine Shop in Las Vegas, while Dave assembled the rest, degree’d the cam, checked combustion chamber volume, and double-checked most of the machine work. The build included internals from Hughes Engines such as a 408 stroker crank, ICON 9.8:1 pistons, a cam with a .510 lift and a 222-degree duration at .050 inches, ported and polished heads, and a Hughes Air Gap intake manifold. The F&B 58mm/1200-cfm TBI system used Holley 30-pound fuel injectors, and was tuned to the stock ECM by Flyin’ Ryan. Dave did all the wiring and used Novak engine mounts, a Wizard radiator, and a Dodge V-6 bellhousing to do the engine swap.
A custom exhaust system built by REF Headers in Kingman, Arizona, used 1 3/4-inch tube headers, a 2 1/2-inch Y-pipe, and a single 3-inch exit pipe, all leading to a Thunderbolt cat and Magnaflow muffler exiting underneath the center of the TJ’s tub. And that’s where this story began—with the sweet low rumble of Dave Gifford’s custom ’97 Jeep TJ Wrangler that convinced us it was feature-worthy.
HARD FACTS:Vehicle: ’97 Jeep TJ Wrangler
Engine: 6.7L (408ci) V-8, F&B throttle body injection, Hughes Engines intake, custom-tuned ECM
Transmission: AX-15 with Dodge V-6 bellhousing
Transfer Case: Atlas II with 3:8 low-range
Suspension: Custom links, Fox 2.0 remote-reservoir shocks and 3-inch Currie coils in front, Fox 2.0 coilovers in rear
Axles: (front) Custom built Dynatrac Super 44 center section with 5.13 Ox-Locker, 3-inch tubes, Chevy outers, 30-spline Dutchmen shafts, and CTM U-joints; (rear) Currie 44 housing with 35-spline shafts, 5.15 ARB Air Locker, custom brackets and truss
Wheels: Trail Ready 17x9-inch with 4-inch backspace
Tires: BFGoodrich 37-12.50R17 KM2 Mud-Terrains