Blast From The Past
Believe it or not, this old, trail-hardened '79 Jeep CJ-7 was at the top of its game in the early '80s, and even part of the '90s. The Jeep belonged to Bob Beck, best known for being the Camel Man, portraying a rugged and adventurous outdoorsman. It is no wonder Bob was given that job, for that is exactly what his life was about.
Bob Beck was somewhat of an iconic figure in the Jeeping world in southern California, so when his son, Matt Beck, called to tell me that the Jeep was for sale, I jumped at the opportunity. Bob was the reason I bought my Jeep back in 1984 and a large part of my having an extraordinary life of off-road, backcountry travel and adventure. I did not want this Jeep put out to pasture or bought by someone who would never know of its rich history. The plan was to bring this old iron back to life once again.
Aside from being emotionally attached to this CJ and wanting to keep it around, an alternate purpose of the build was to illustrate the advancement of aftermarket parts and accessories as well as their availability and cost effectiveness. You don’t have to spend $40,000 to have an extremely dependable trail rig. This Jeep was bought for $3,000 and the aftermarket parts will cost another $10,000 or so. That’s no small amount of money, however, this type of build does not need to be done all at once, and in the end the owner will be left with an extremely dependable trail rig that will bring years or off road travel and adventure.
The CJ had given Bob Beck many years of faithful service and the frame was still in good shape. The T-18 manual transmission and transfer case had been well taken care of and would be left untouched. The straight-six engine had a Paxton supercharger, which was hot stuff at the time, however this would be changed out and replaced with the new and reliable Howell fuel injection system.
The rest of the build would be along the same lines, replacing outdated technology, and questionable parts with high tech, innovative products. The goal was not to make this Jeep an eye catcher. On the contrary, every bump and scratch has a story and will be left alone. The goal was to build a dependable, go anywhere trail rig. Something the family can take into the backcountry with confidence.
After much conversation with friends and fellow wheelers, we came up with a parts list that would address the inherent weaknesses in this vintage CJ and enhance its off-road capability. The parts list encompassed many manufacturers. Fortunately, all but a few are available from Quadratec, the Jeep parts and accessories specialists. Just about any part you can think of for Jeeps, new and old, can be found at Quadratec and shipped anywhere in the country.
Unfortunately, one of the premier Jeep aftermarket manufacturers that we wanted to use, Gen-Right, was not listed in the catalog. So we contacted this company separately in regards to their replacement gas tanks, fenders, and body protection.
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