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The All-Terrain Scrambler: 1982 Jeep CJ-8

Posted in Project Vehicles on November 1, 1998 Comment (0)
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Mitch Stahl owns Harvey's Complete Jeep Shop, which built this '82 Scrambler to showcase the shop's abilities. Mitch wanted a multipurpose Jeep that did it all: daily driver, tow vehicle, hard-core rockcrawler and sand dragster.

Mitch's shop in Long Beach, California, is known nationwide for its expertise in building Jeeps. Mitch believes Jeep-not Chevy-small-blocks belong in Jeeps. He says, "We've worked with AMCs so long that we get comparable performance out of them, and cost is pretty even. AMC parts are more expensive, but while a Chevy V-8 is inexpensive to obtain, the conversion parts are expensive. All in all, an AMC engine makes for a cleaner installation-from radiator to electronics."

This AMC 360 V-8 is a screamer, producing 430 hp at 7,200 rpm. Using top-grade parts assembled by shop foreman Keith Busby, the V-8 offers great reliability at high rpm. Mitch says, "To get these horsepower figures out of a small-block, it's gotta twist." Because only cast pistons are available for the 360, Mitch had forged .060-over 9.5:1 pistons custom-made by JE Pistons sealed by gapless Total Seal rings. The crank was polished and the rods were polished and stress-relieved then attached with ARP rod bolts.

Mitch went through a number of fuel setups before finding components that met the needs of his 360. "We started out with a Holley 750 double-pumper. We were happy with the horsepower, but any carb has inherent problems with bouncing, angles, and altitude. We tried a Chevy big-block two-barrel TBI, but it couldn't supply enough air and fuel, and the ignition electronics were interfering with its operation. Finally, we changed to a Holley four-barrel 900-cfm Pro-Jection TBI directed by a Holley ECU. We like the Holley TBI because it's a stand-alone system, and it's the only four-venturi system of its type."

Fuel flows through an Edelbrock Torker single-plane manifold with the runners ported and matched to the heads. Mitch chose Chevy big-block stainless valves, because they're the largest valves with the correct stem size that could physically fit into the head. Harland Sharpe roller rockers offer less friction, while chrome-moly pushrods, Isky springs, and ARP head and rocker studs contribute to high-rev durability.

After trying a number of cams, Mitch settled on an Ultradyne flat-tappet with 288/296 advertised duration and 0.522 inch of lift. "It's a relatively large cam," he says, "but it's a livable trade-off for its performance characteristics."

Mitch chose an MSD 6A box and Blaster coil because they are "ultra-reliable in severe-duty usage with high vibration and high heat." The MSD is very versatile; at a later date a rev limiter or ignition-retard module can be added. A high-energy system like this is also a necessity with nitrous or high-compression ratios and pump gas.

Exhaust flows through ceramic-coated 1 3/4-inch, 4-into-1 Hedman headers with a 3 1/2-inch collector. Each bank routes to a separate SuperTrapp muffler that dumps to the side. "The SuperTrapps are compact," Mitch says, "so we don't lose any ground clearance. They look good, the sound and power output is adjustable, and they have a provision for a Forest Service-approved spark arrester."

One secret to this 360's reliability is its lubrication system. The pump housing was milled to move the cover closer to the gears and increase pressure, and a braided line feeds directly to the 4 main journal, a traditional weak spot for oiling. The Milodon deep-sump pan holds two extra quarts. Cooling is handled by an electric fan blowing into a heavy-duty four-core radiator.

Mitch likes the T-176 four-speed Jeep tranny because it is compact and lightweight. He had the gears bead-blasted, and the main shaft was blasted, ground, and polished to eliminate machining flaws. The clutch is a custom-made 11-inch Centerforce with dual-friction carbon-fiber discs.

Torque is split by a Dana 300, which Mitch thinks is "the best" because it has an iron-case, gear-driven construction and the lowest low-range (2.6:1) ratio used in a Jeep. Heavy-duty, thick-wall driveshafts were custom-made, with 1-ton Spicer U-joints on the rear shaft.

The Dana 30 front axle was retained because it's light and has good ground clearance. "It's a strong piece," Mitch insists, "when it's set up with 44 U-joints on the axles, high-quality ring-and-pinion gears set to close tolerances and earlier-vintage six-bolt wheel hubs." The Dana carries 4.10 gears and a modified Powr-Lok.

To correct a tube-bending problem with the Model 20 rear, Mitch swapped in a Ford 9-inch carrying a Detroit Locker, 4.10s, and 31-spline alloy shafts. He avoided a Dana 60 because of weight and ground clearance loss.

Five inches of lift come from Skyjacker 4-inch Softride springs and Con-Ferr extension shackles, which were repositioned to the rear of the front springs for better flex, a smoother ride, and an improved approach angle. Because of their coil-over design, the 4-way single shocks at each corner compensate for any deficiency in the single-shock setup. Con-Ferr skidplates protect the U-bolts. The 33x12.50 BFG Mud-Terrains run on 15x8 Weld SuperLite wheels. The wheelwells are flaired slightly to also accommodate sand tires. Carbon-fiber pads assist the front discs, and an 11-inch drum from a recent F-150 with carbon-fiber shoes assists the rear, with a Brake Guard ABS preventing lockup.

To reduce weight, the Scrambler carries a fiberglass hood and windshield frame. The body is painted '93 Ford Chrome Yellow and clearcoated with urethane. The rollcage is by Smittybilt. A custom bikini top snaps to the rollbar to provide shade even when the windshield is removed.

The custom dash carries the basic VDO gauges, with red backlighting for night driving. An Auto Meter tach and oil-pressure warning light are mounted on the steering column behind a LeCarra leather wheel. Seats are Eurosport recliners, and the custom carpeting snaps out for easy cleaning.

This Scrambler is a do-it-all Jeep. And if you want one like it, Mitch can build it.

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