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1978 Jeep CJ-7 YJ/TJ - Melting Pot

White Exterior Side View
Melissa Howard | Writer
Posted July 20, 2008

Diesel Whatchamacallit-CJ

CJ, YJ, TJ.... At some point while building a Jeep we all have probably said, "I love this Jeep but wish it had something from an earlier or later model." You know, just take them all and build the perfect daily driver as well as a killer trail rig that would turn heads. John Hubbard of Oyster Bay, New York, did just that.

When we first saw John's '78 "CJ-7" at a Jeep show, we did a double-take. Was it a CJ-7? It had a CJ-7 front end and tailgate, and then we noticed the TJ flares and YJ body, windshield, and frame. Our interest was piqued, so he popped the hood to reveal a 3.2L Nissan SD-33T six-cylinder turbodiesel.

At this point we had to hear the story behind this confused Jeep.

John started the buildup with a YJ frame and tub that he bought for $300 and towed home on a 4x8-foot utility trailer. The other major component in the project was an '80 International Scout II; John married the Scout's entire drivetrain to the YJ frame. After a year of hard work welding, grinding, and fabricating, the result was a CJ/YJ/TJ/XJ/Scout/Nissan/Dodge/Chevy Jeep painted Corvette White that's a daily driver as well as a trail rig, which John built by himself from the ground up.


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What we didn't know until we ran across this Jeep was that in 1980, International offered the Scout II with a Nissan diesel engine. John is bent on diesel-powered vehicles-including the two ride-on lawnmowers he owns. So when an '80 Scout II went up for sale in his club, John jumped on it. Out of the Scout II came the 198ci turbodiesel, T-19 transmission, Dana 300 transfer case (with that goofy Texas bolt pattern), and Dana 44 axles.

As you might imagine, with an unconventional swap like this, John became good friends with his welder. The engine mounts were made from 5/16-inch plate, cut and welded to bridge the gap from engine to frame. The entire exhaust system was likewise fabricated, with 3-inch-diameter tubing and 3-inch-diameter mandrel-bent elbows with a stainless steel flexpipe located about a foot from the turbo to allow the system to flex without cracking. There is no muffler on the Jeep; the turbo provides all the muffling needed.

The four-speed T-19 was rebuilt with a Novak adapter kit and a Wilwood pull-type slave cylinder to disengage the clutch, but the Dana 300 transfer case was left alone (a 4:1 gearset is in the works). The rear driveshaft is a shortened '97 Cherokee part, while the front shaft came from a YJ.

The front Dana 44 received an Aussie Locker, 3.73 gears, flat-top knuckles, and new Spicer ball joints, seals, and U-joints. The tie-rod ends, drag link, and tie rod all came from EMS Offroad and were hooked to a rebuilt YJ power-steering box. The other Dana 44 got similar treatment in the form of new seals, 3.73 gears, and an Eaton Elocker.


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Braking duties fall to a '94 Chevy Astro van hydrobooster and master-cylinder combination, while the front discs and calipers came from a Dodge 1/2-ton truck. The stock Scout drum brakes on the rear axle were rebuilt.

The Jeep has an '88 YJ frame and stock YJ spring packs in a spring-over setup (the stock YJ front and rear track bars were ditched). The front springs got a BDS add-a-leaf to help hold up that 672-pound engine, while the rear received an additional leaf as well. The shocks are Old Man Emu. The stock YJ bellypan was modified to work with the T-19/Dana 300 setup, and a custom traction bar and mount were added to control rear axlewrap. A 1-inch Daystar body lift replaced the stock rubber mounts.

The stock YJ fuel tank still hangs out back, but now there's a 1-inch-diameter marine filler hose to accomodate diesel fuel. After significant trimming of the CJ grille, it finally fit over the power-steering box, and after more trimming, a two-row universal-Ford radiator was installed. Eagle Alloy 058 rims and a set of 35x12.5R15 BFG Mud-Terrain tires round out the package.

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