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'86 CJ-7

Front Right View
Posted January 1, 2001

Rebuilding a Rust Bucket

Step By Step

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  • Bryson Serraon's '86 CJ-7.

  • While Jeep never offered a V-8 in ’86, Bryson plopped this ’72 304 AMC in the engine bay after a rebuilding it at his work. Daystar polyurethane mounts hold the stock motor in place, and the only performance mods needed were the Hedman headers and custom exhaust. It looks so right, we had to check the VIN to make sure it was an ’86!

  • Just like the engine, a Turbo 400 never came in an ’86 CJ. The engine bolted to the AMC pattern TH400, and an Advance Adapter kit mated the rebuilt tranny to the stock Dana 300 transfer case. Moving the crossmember back and making it wider, changing driveshaft lengths, and adding a Hurst Indy shifter were the major changes needed to finalize the swap.

  • The aftermarket suspension and Con-Ferr shackles are enough to clear the 32-inch Swampers on 7-inch American Racing rims. Since we snapped these photos, Bryson has big-dogged the rig with Skyjacker 4-inch lift springs and shocks, Slickrock shackle hangers, and a Currie steering brace to handle the 35x12.50 Baja Radial Claws. A Daystar 1-inch body lift between the frame and fiberglass body helps clear the new big meats.

  • Clean and simple describes the interior of this Jeep, without the unnecessary clutter and crap so many rigs have. Simply adding a couple of Stewart-Warner gauges to monitor the engine vitals and some seat covers to protect the seats is all that’s really needed. The new ’glass tub also received a coating of DupliColor truck bed coating inside to protect the surface and provide good foot gription.

  • Stock axles house 4.10 gears, and the rear AMC 20 even has a Trac-Lok for some help in the traction department. The standard disc/drum combo stops the lightweight Jeep with ease, and longer, braided brake hoses were added to compensate for the Skyjacker lift.

Building Jeeps isn’t just a hobby for some people, it’s a passion. Such is the case of Bryson Serraon and his shiny yellow banana. Bryson is an automotive technician on the beautiful but humid island of Kauai, Hawaii, so rebuilding a rust bucket came naturally to him. Salvaging a stock ’86 CJ-7 that was rusted beyond repair, Bryson first ordered a fiberglass body to replace the rotten sheetmetal, rather than trying to weld Swiss cheese together. Even the engine and trans were tossed aside to make room for real Jeep components, namely an AMC 304 V-8 and Turbo 400 tranny.

With the body placed on the frame, the fenders, hood, and fiberglass windshield frame were next. Bryson and his dad then sprayed the beast in a bright-yellow polyurethane, hence the banana reference.

The whole project only took a couple of months to complete, even though he constantly makes upgrades and additions to his Jeep. For instance, after we shot these location photos, Bryson added a Skyjacker lift and 35-inch Baja Claws so he could tackle even tougher trails on the island.

Bryson noted that “if you take your time and do it right, you can build a great 4x4 you can enjoy for years to come.” From where we sit, his lightweight and bright project came out just that way. The next time we travel to Hawaii, we bet this Jeep will still be evolving and being used like it should be.