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1983 Jeep CJ-7 Buildup - 31 Days

Before
John Cappa | Writer
Posted November 1, 2002

From Stocker To Monster In A Month

Having your Jeep stolen right from under your nose is one thing, but having it ripped off a mere month away from your week-long Jeep vacation you've been planning for a year is like gettin' kicked in the nuts when you're asleep. After the initial hacking and coughing, Clifton Slay of Avalanche Engineering in Denver, Colorado, had to grasp just this concept, not the nut-kicking part but the AWOL Jeep. He wasn't totally Jeepless, but most of his other Jeeps at the time were in different states of disrepair. So with 31 days before the event, he began to disassemble and rebuild his '83 CJ-7, using mostly off-the shelf bolt-on and weld-on Avalanche Engineering parts.

Chassis
First on the to-do list was the removal of the hard top, interior, and all of the CJ's original suspension and axle components. Being the all-knowing boss/tyrant, Clifton set employee Tim Turner out to do the work. Reinforcement plates were welded on and an Avalanche outboard spring kit was installed to allow the use of a full-width GM truck front axle. Avalanche 1-inch-lift front springs (6 inches longer than stock) were then bolted up. A pair of fabricated shock hoops house 10-inch-travel Rancho RS9112 shocks. Out back rests an Avalanche quarter-elliptic four-link kit and another pair of custom shock hoops, this time with 12-inch-travel Rancho RS9012s. The wheelbase was extended to 104.5 inches for better climbing ability. A custom belly pan protects the underside of the engine oil pan and other drivetrain components. Steering is done through an AGR Rock Ram system and monster-sized tie rods and rod ends. Double-ended Avalanche steering arms allow the tie rod and ram-assist to be placed behind the axle out of harm's way. This also makes more room for the drag link and allows the front axle to be moved forward slightly for an increased wheelbase.

Driveline
Clifton's CJ already had the stock Vortec V-8 and 4L60E swapped in before he started the 31-day venture. The engine breathes in through a K&N filter and out via a set of Jet Hot-coated Advance Adapters headers into a high-flow cat, Flowmaster muffler, and a custom 3-inch exhaust built by Discount Muffler in Denver, Colorado. The 4L60E received a shift kit and a giant Perma-Cool tranny cooler from Tranny Warehouse in Inglewood, Colorado. Power is transmitted from the auto box to what Clifton calls an Atlas III transfer case. The Advance Adapters Atlas features a 4.3 low-range, 32-spline outputs front and rear, and 1410 driveshaft flanges. High Angle Driveline built a long-travel 1410 spinner for the front and a high-angle 1350 CV driveshaft for the rear. About the time he started in on the driveline, Clifton's stolen Jeep had been found and brought back to the shop. It was beat, bent, and broken. So Clifton yanked out the full-width GM Dana 60 (originally from a 1-ton truck) and attached it to the new Jeep. It's stuffed with 4.88 gears, a Detroit Locker, Dynatrac 35-spline stub axles and locking hubs, and protected with an Avalanche Rock Ring. The rear axle, ironically, came from the same Jeep. It had been swapped out for an Avalanche Advantage 9-inch before the Jeep was ganked. So the GM 14-bolt already had matching 4.88 gears, a Detroit Locker, a Rock Ring with 4-link mount, disc brakes, and much of the needed suspension bracketry already installed.

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