If you think Jp Dirt ’N Drive is only for bone-stock or mildly modified Jeeps, then take a look at this rig. This highly modified 1985 Jeep CJ-7 owned by Alan Brannon of Mount Olive, Alabama, is no mall crawler, that’s for sure. And while the Dirt ’N Drive events are designed so that pretty much any Jeep can handle the trails, there are plenty of tough challenges (with go-arounds for, shall we say, less-muscular Jeeps) to keep people like Alan happy. He joined us for the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive Presented by Jeep, and his CJ-7 was one of our favorites among the 100 Jeeps participating in the three-day trek leading to Moab, Utah, for Easter Jeep Safari.
What began as a stock 1985 Jeep CJ-7 had already been through one previous build. However, about a dozen years ago Alan decided he wanted to get into rockcrawling, so the mildly built CJ-7 had to be kicked up a few notches. Six months of hard work and Alan was ready for the rocks. First, the frame was gone over nose to tail with gussets and plates so it could handle a wheelbase stretch from its factory 93 to 114 inches, 1-ton axles, a 350ci V-8, and 40-inch rubber.
The 1978 Chevy 350, which now rests on custom motor mounts, was rebuilt, gaining an RV cam, block-hugger headers, tall aluminum valve covers, an intake manifold and TBI system from an ’89 engine, and a 2 1/2-inch turned-down exhaust. A TH350 was stuffed with a shift kit, Summit torque converter, a B&M shifter, and a B&M auxiliary fluid cooler mounted inside the front grille. Its Dana 300 transfer case (original case) received a JB Conversions 4-to-1 LoMax refit, and it sends power down to the 1-ton axles through custom 1350 driveshafts. The Dana 60 up front got a LockRight, chromoly shafts, 35-spline outers, and Yukon manual-locking hubs. The 14-Bolt axle out back was shaved and then filled with a Detroit Locker. The frame mods made it possible to create a custom four-link coilover suspension system that was tall enough to let the fat 40s just barely touch the front fenders at full flex, and a hydraulic steering system helps turn those massive meats.
Interior and exterior mod highlights include reclining Corbeau Baja RS seats, Summit Blue Digital gauges, an Off Road Connection (ORC) custom rollcage, ORC bumpers and brush guard, a Warn 10K winch, and Blue Torch DIY front fenders and rear corners. But it’s the little details that got our attention too, like the Corvette brake master cylinder, brake-proportioning valve, classic Grant steering wheel, Jeep YJ half-doors, stainless steel dash and door covers, and custom steel Chevy Bowtie emblems cut and welded to the leading edge of the front fenders. Nice job, Alan. Thanks for joining us on Jp Dirt ’N Drive.
Hard FactsVehicle: 1985 Jeep CJ-7
Engine: 1978 Chevy TBI 5.7L V-8
Transmission: TH350 three-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Dana 300 with JB Conversions LoMax 4-to-1 kit
Suspension: Custom four-link coil suspension, stretched to 114-inch wheelbase
Axles: 1985 CUCV Dana 60, 4.56 LockRight (front); 1985 CUCV GM 14-Bolt, 4.56 Detroit Locker (rear)
Wheels: 17x9-inch Poison Spyder beadlocks
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Pro Comp Xtreme MT2