It's Not A Beater, But It Wheels Like One!
In This Day Of Trick, High-Tech, Coilover Vehicles, There Are Some Of Us who can still appreciate the form, function, and feel of a leaf-sprung Jeep. We know that true connoisseurs of a fine rig don't really care if the rig is shiny, rusty, dented, banged up, or stunning. It's the mechanical workmanship that counts. We ran across Glen Wanczyk and his nicely restored '81 Scrambler on our recent adventure to Moab, and immediately took a shine to the Jeep.
Glen spent the better part of the last eight months restoring this CJ-8 before hitting the trails at Easter Jeep Safari. He bought the Scrambler from a good friend, and when he drove it home the Jeep was in perfect OEM condition and only had 16,000 miles on its odometer. After driving it a while, he completely stripped the vehicle for a frame-off restoration-twice! Using a mix of old- and new-school technology and some mechanical know-how, he bolted it back together to not only look great but function properly on some of this country's most spectacular trails.
Fewer than 28,000 Scramblers were manufactured from 1981 to 1986, so there aren't too many of them around today. Most of the CJ-8s we see wheeling have been so heavily modified and chopped up (bobbed), that it's refreshing to see an old '8 restored and left intact.
The clean factory lines, functionality, and fancy Harley Davidson-tank paint color make this Scrambler stand out on the trail. To the untrained eye this Jeep might look factory except for the Bushwacker fender flares and custom rocker guards. Little would they know this CJ-8 is rolling around on a very capable custom suspension. The front suspension was built with Wrangler YJ rear leaf springs and a Poison Spyder shackle-reversal kit. The springs are relocated just outboard of the Jeep's framerails, which give the rig more stability and control on and off the highway. The power-steering gearbox uses a Mountain Off Road Enterprises brace, and the OEM steering shaft has been replaced with a Borgeson shaft. Skyjacker shocks were installed on the front and rear of the Jeep. The Dana 44 axle is fit with an ARB Air Locker and 4.56 gears.
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1981 Jeep Scrambler CJ-8
Engine: '81 AMC 258ci
Transfer case: Dana 300
Front Axle: Dana 44, ARB Air Locker, 4.56 gears
Rear Axle: Corporate 14-bolt, Detroit Locker, 4.56 gears
Springs & Such: Spring-over front with factory Jeep Wrangler springs, spring-under rear with Skyjacker 4-inch-lift Softride springs
Tires & Wheels: LT315/75R16 Pro Comp Xterrains on 16x8 Classic Locks
Other Stuff: Pro Comp front and rear bumpers, MileMarker 9,000-pound winch, Poison Spyder shackle-reversal kit, custom rocker guards