If you have a fondness for old Jeep CJs, then you likely have an affinity for the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler. The Scrambler's distinctive miniature truck bed is what separates it from the CJ-7 of the same era. This is a very attractive feature to a person who likes to spend an extended amount of time out on the trail. It's a great place to carry additional gear and supplies. Perhaps it's a utility vehicle that debuted a little prematurely, given the popularity of the Jeep Unlimited today.
In introducing this vehicle to you, I first would like to say why it is being built. To begin with, we haven't featured much CJ tech in quite a while. The vehicle will be used as a base for technical articles showing just what it takes to build up a vehicle from scratch. The project's tech will revolve around all things Jeep in a scrambled mix of old and new technology. This should give you perspective on crossover applications for both the Jeep CJ and the TJ. If you own an old CJ, the project may give you some ideas about how to modernize it with newer and better-quality components.
Every part of the build will be covered: axles, suspension, engine and performance (5.9L Mopar), bending custom brake lines, rollcage, interior, electronics, and paint (including sheetmetal restoration). I will give you as much in-depth coverage as humanly possible. Topics will also include functionality, theory, and comparison (old vs. new). If you have a question, a suggestion, or maybe something you would like to see, please feel free to e-mail me.
I won't simply show you new bolt-on parts being installed; if possible, I will also show you how those parts were made, what 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine thinks of them, and how they endure rigorous testing. An example of this is the axles. We see Dynatrac's Pro Rock 60s everywhere, but how many times have you read about how they are built, set up, and installed? I'll kick off this project with a Dynatrac axle build and the construction of MasterCraft's new Baja RS reclining suspension seats. Both articles will appear in the July '06 issue.
After the Scrambler is built, I plan to embark on a series of adventures across the contiguous United States, Canada, and possibly even Alaska - one of the U.S.'s last wilderness frontiers. Each adventure will be documented in 4WD&SU. The adventures will rate in difficulty levels from extremely difficult to an excursion the average enthusiast could undertake safely with his family. The vehicle is not being built to be destroyed, so please don't expect it to be. The CJ will be built for safety, longevity, and peace of mind out on the trail.
The vehicle will start its life at Extreme Gear Off Road in Orangevale, California. The proprietor of the establishment, Scott Arentz, has been in and around the four-wheel industry for a number of years. He has turned out some phenomenal vehicles in that time, many of which have been featured in the pages of 4WD&SU. Just a few of the items you can expect to see technical articles, reviews, and testing on are products from Aqualu Industries, Dynatrac, Currie Enterprises, Detroit Locker (Tractech), Reider Racing/Precision Gear, Advanced Frame Works (AFW), Warn Industries, Toyo Tires, and MasterCraft Racing Seats. Stay tuned.