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1978 Jeep CJ-7: Screamin' Eagle

Front Dragstrip Shot
Melissa Howard | Writer
Posted April 1, 2011

When A Good CJ-7 Goes Drag

The crowd screams with excitement, the smell of heated tires and racing fuel fill the air. Your heart starts to thump, engines roaring...this is not what one expects when you think of Jeep. When most of us buy a Jeep we have a vision of all the things we want to do. Add a lift, bigger tires, lockers, and some body armor. What doesn't come to mind is a rip-snorting V-8 with big racing slicks. Some get their blood pumping by a slow crawl up a rugged obstacle while Jim Scheid (aka Fuzz), from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, gets his juices flowing by the few seconds of heart stopping excitement on the drag strip. We first saw this Jeep at a show in Pennsylvania. First we noticed the 11.85 time on the windshield, and then we felt the rumble of the exhaust at the same time we noticed the front Dana 30 was still there. It was all pushed along by a big set of Hoosier racing slicks and we knew there was a story here.

Scheid has owned this Jeep since it was almost new back in 1979 and we finally caught up with him to see it in action at the Cecil County Dragway in Rising Sun, Maryland, where it races Pro Street class. The Jeep is sitting on 4 inches of lift, so he towers over everyone else-but what a sight it is blasting down the 1320. His best time to date is 11.669 sec @ 112.33mph.

For what is basically a stock Jeep underneath it all, this thing does really well. The stock frame was left largely alone, with the only stiffeners coming in the form of the class-required rollcage tie-ins. The factory leaf spring locations were used along with a set of 4-inch-lift Skyjacker springs. Surprisingly, there are no traction bars to keep the rear axle planted once the slicks hookup and a Rancho RS-9000 at each corner seems to keep things well in check.

The show all starts up front under that big Eagle in the form of a 401ci AMC V-8 that Scheid built himself. While we weren't privy to whether or not it was overbored, it was both balanced and blueprinted with the factory connecting rods being reused. Ross pistons and Perfect Circle rings help bump the compression ratio to 12:1. The Crower camshaft boasts 0.500 inches of lift on the intake and 0.510 inches of lift on the exhaust with a 246/250 @0.050 duration. The combustion mixture is drawn through a 950cfm Proform/Holley carburetor and an Edelbrock Torker Air Gap manifold. It is lit off by an MSD 6AL ignition system and the spent gasses go out through a pair of Headman headers with 13/4-inch primaries and dumps out the side through a pair of glasspacks. An electric Moroso water pump works along with a regular copper-brass radiator and a 16-inch puller fan to cool the engine off after runs.

The TH400 with a swapped-in 2WD tailshaft absorbs the abuse thanks to some high-performance clutches and an 8-inch-diameter 4,500RPM stall torque converter. A manual reverse valve body is rowed with a B&M Pro Stick shifter. The transmission is cooled by a 12-inch by 12-inch cooler and passes power to the rear Dana 44 via a Tom Woods CV-equipped driveshaft. The Dana 44 is stuffed with 5.13 gears and a Detroit Locker to help spin the 33x16.50 Hoosier racing slicks. Up front the Dana 30 has been gutted with the pinion hole welded closed, the axleshafts removed, and the 33x12.50R15 all-terrain tires are just getting pushed around. A manual master cylinder presses on the factory discs up front and the Dana 44 still sports the drum brakes you'd expect to see.

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