There is no getting around it: This is one big CJ. But then when you take a CJ-7 and sling Rockwell axles and 49-inch rubber under it, you've got to expect something big. Granted, there isn't all that much left of the CJ that this Jeep started life as, but it is still recognizable as a Jeep, it still has a body that sits on a frame, and it just looks cool. Jamie Eulberg was the driver half of this husband/wife team, and her husband, David, wasn't on his first rodeo here at Top Truck.
David has competed as both a driver and a co-driver before, so he's been around and knows the ropes. Jamie is a great driver off-road, and with both members of the team being involved in the build of the Jeep, they were both quite familiar with it. Then toss a big-block V-8 under the hood coupled to 2.5-ton axles, and we expected a very good showing. Unfortunately, some loose spark plugs, plug wires, and ultimately a vacuum leak at the MAP sensor kept them from doing as well as we expected. Mechanical issues notwithstanding, this team placed mid-pack overall, which tells us that they would have had a much better shot if things were working as planned.
Chassis and Driveline
The engine is a 0.030-over bored 454ci GM big-block V-8. All the front end accessories were left in place, including the mechanical fan, and a simple K&N aluminum intake was used on top of the throttle body. For normal running, a conical filter is attached directly to the aluminum intake, but for mud and water a flexible tube is run up the a-pillar of the Jeep to the roofline.
A TH400 HD backs up the big-block and the shifter is sourced from a dump truck with a skull head added. A reverse-valvebody and a shift kit accompany the 1100RPM stall converter. Cooling comes from a K&N cooler, while an aftermarket aluminum radiator keeps the engine temps in check. The Atlas transfer case sends power out to the Rockwell axles via a pair of JE Reel driveshafts.
The front and rear steering Rockwell axles feature welded-on high-clearance oil pans from Fishmouth Fabworks and four-piston calipers and brake rotors off of an IFS Toyota truck with custom tube work to keep them safe from rocks and trail obstacles. Front steering is a full-hydraulic setup run off of the stock Chevy engine-driven pump that was modified by Evolution Engineering Hydraulics to match the size of the ram on the front axle. The rear is an electric-over-hydraulic system with the pump being mounted under the bed of the Jeep and wired into the adjacent Yellow Top Optima battery.
The Chassis under this Jeep is custom-built out of heavy-wall 2x4 rectangular steel tubing. The 16-inch front and rear Sway-A-Way coilover shocks work in conjunction with custom 0.250-wall tubing links and Sway-A-Way coilovers for elevation and control. Kartek welded-in steel cans hold Sway-A-Way air bumps for a soft return to the earth.
Body and Interior
We caught the narrowed rear fenders straight-away. What we didn't catch was that the Eulbergs added about a foot to the bed of this Jeep to provide clearance for those big tires. They took the bedsides from another CJ and used some flat plate for the floor and inner wheelwells. The front fenders were tossed in favor of some tube tied into the frame and front stinger, and rear flares are similarly nonexistent, favoring tube there as well.
The power seats were pulled from an '02 Tahoe. The dashboard has been replaced with some slick tube work and random-ground aluminum which was stuffed with a simple push-button starter switch (no keys here) and a bevy of Auto Meter gauges. The CJ steering column is long gone; instead, a simple steering shaft and carrier bearing take care of those duties. While the Jeep is an automatic, it didn't start life that way, and instead of trying to track down an elusive automatic pedal assembly, a plate was welded between the clutch and brake pedal to make a brake pedal with ridiculous surface area. The dual master cylinders were pulled from a Case excavator.
Behind the front seats, the top of the rear shocks and reservoirs are mounted to the cage with the filler for the under-Jeep mounted 24-gallon Welder Bill't aluminum fuel cell coming in from the driver's side and down through the floor. The cage mimics a CJ-style cage and also helps to hold the body together out back, and a simple aluminum plate up top provides shade for the occupants.
Good, Bad and What's It For
There is no beating the simplicity of a throttle-body-injected engine, and a big-block Chevy is great for torque. Rockwell axles offer worry-free bashability, and a custom rectangular tube frame to replace the craptastic stock CJ frame give it all a very solid base platform.
Build time: 2 Years
Owner: David and Jamie Eulberg
Hometown: Colfax, California
Engine: '95 454ci Chevy V-8 bored 0.030 over
Aspiration: Throttle-body fuel injection
Transfer case: 4.3:1 Atlas II
Front axle/diff: Rockwell, Detroit Locker
Rear axle/diff: Rockwell, Detroit Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 6.72:1
Front suspension: Triangulated four-link with a 16-inch Sway-A-Way 2.5 coilovers
Rear suspension: Triangulated four-link with 16-inch Sway-A-Way 2.0 coilovers
Wheels: 20-inch diameter custom two-piece beadlock wheels with custom-machined centers
Tires: 21/49-20LT Super Swamper Irok