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'81 Jeep

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2000
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Photographers: Trenton McGee
Steve Crawford's '81 CJ-8. Steve Crawford's '81 CJ-8.
An ’80 Wagoneer Dana 44 with 4.56s and a Detroit Locker receive input from the 727 transmission and Dana 300 transfer case. The spring-over necessitated a 4-inch dropped pitman arm. An ’80 Wagoneer Dana 44 with 4.56s and a Detroit Locker receive input from the 727 transmission and Dana 300 transfer case. The spring-over necessitated a 4-inch dropped pitman arm.
A ’70 AMX donated its 390. A Comp Cams 260H cam and roller rockers, an Edelbrock manifold, and a 650-cfm mechanical Holley carburetor only begin the list of performance parts for the 11:1 mill. A ’70 AMX donated its 390. A Comp Cams 260H cam and roller rockers, an Edelbrock manifold, and a 650-cfm mechanical Holley carburetor only begin the list of performance parts for the 11:1 mill.
The rear bob-job is really clean. A 20-gallon fuel tank sits behind the Ramsey winch and custom chrome-moly tube bumper. The rear bob-job is really clean. A 20-gallon fuel tank sits behind the Ramsey winch and custom chrome-moly tube bumper.
The interior is full of custom details but retains the stock look. A homebuilt rollcage tied into the frame, four-point harnesses, a Wagoneer tilt steering column, and a Mico-Lock are a few of the custom modifications. The interior is full of custom details but retains the stock look. A homebuilt rollcage tied into the frame, four-point harnesses, a Wagoneer tilt steering column, and a Mico-Lock are a few of the custom modifications.
Even considering the trussing and skidplating, how the welded and 4.56’d AMC 20 rear has survived with 38x15.5-inch Swampers on 15x10-inch wheels is beyond us. Rather than tempt fate, Steve is having a custom Dana 60 rear built. Even considering the trussing and skidplating, how the welded and 4.56’d AMC 20 rear has survived with 38x15.5-inch Swampers on 15x10-inch wheels is beyond us. Rather than tempt fate, Steve is having a custom Dana 60 rear built.

We’re always amazed when we walk through salvage yards here in Southern California, where rust-free 20- to 50-year-old iron sits languishing until its date with the crusher. Vehicles on the eastern half of the country—where rain, sleet, snow, and salt take their toll—are usually so rotted by the time they’re 10 years old that you could cube them in a trash compactor. That’s why we freak over cleanly built East Coast examples, such as Steve Crawford’s ’81 CJ-8.

All of the Jeeps Steve has previously owned were built by Tim Dockery of Timco in Murphy, North Carolina. Although Dockery is now retired, Steve managed to talk him into building one last Rock Hound before he hung up his wrenches. The result is a completely restored, nicely customized truck that gets used all over the Southeast.

At first glance, the most noticeable feature is that the tub has been shortened 13 ½ inches behind the rear tires. In addition, the front axle and steering box have been moved forward 3 inches to create a 107-inch wheelbase, and a shackle reversal was performed on the front. The body tub was cherried out, and anything that wasn’t sprayed with Line-X got fogged with pearl white paint. For boingage, a set of 2 ½-inch Superlift springs relocated on top of the axles makes room for 38-inch Super Swampers.

Other niceties, such as an 11:1 compression ’70 AMC 390, four-wheel discs from Wagoneer pieces, and reupholstered factory seats provide the stop, go, and comfort. We’re glad to see a 19-year-old vehicle in great condition, but if Steve ever loses the better part of judgement, we’re sure he could just hook up the front Warn 8274 and rear Ramsey REP 8000 to solid points and rip the thing in half.

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