Its no secret that Land Rover Defender 90s are good competition for TJs, YJs, and CJs (box stock, that is), and if you start to build them for hard-core off-road use you run into the same kind of problems us Jeep fans do. But $35,000 is damn steep for a starting price for a used rig, and we can imagine that grenading Land Rover parts hurt the pocket a bit more than good ol Jeep parts. What is the result of these expenses you ask? The converted. Matthew Peterson, co-owner of Rock Ware in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has taken a step over from the dark side. As a fabricator of parts for both British rigs and Jeeps, Matthew decided to build a CJ-7 after doing a bit too much body damage to his D90. And what we have before us is the end resulta Jeep with a British twist.
Chassis & Driveline
Being a welder/fabricator by trade cant hurt when building a Jeep, and Matthew used his skill to his advantage. Clean welds and lots of tubing make up this custom-built frame that holds a motor, transmission, and transfer case from a 92 Blazer. The Chevy NP231 was beefed up with a heavy-duty slip-yoke eliminator, while the 4.3L V-6 received a high-flow air filter as its only mod. The Chevys stock 700-R4 was deemed strong enough for Matthews tranny needs.
The suspension is a combination of hand fabricated stuff with a few Land Rover parts tossed in for good measure. The front is basically a two-link using Rover control arms and VSW coil springs with Bilstein shocks, while the rear uses a wishbone to locate the axle as well as a place for the Land Rover airbags to ride. The pivot point on the wishbone uses a greasable joint from Rubicon Express while two more Bilsteins provide damping for the rear.
Wheels & Tires
The 38.5x14.5-15 Interco Super Swamper SXs are wrapped around 15x10 MRT Bead Locks. This tire and wheel combo was chosen for its great traction and strength.
Body & Interior
A fiberglass hood rides atop a Rock Ware grille and some trick tube-reinforced fenders. The rear wheelwells were cut out to provide room for the 38.5-inch meats. What was left of the rear fenders was plated with 3/16-inch sheetmetal corners. Most of the interior is also from the 92 Chevy parts Blazer along with 4-point harnesses, a rollcage, and a tub full of Arma Coating.
Good, Bad, & What It's For
We like the suspension setup. Its different and provides lots of flex without compromising stability. As for trails, Matthew has been spotted at the Independence Trail, Chile Challenge, and we recently caught a glimpse of him at the ARCA championship in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
What We Think
Its a Jeep built for having fun on some tough trails. The stock V-6 provides plenty of reliability and power while keeping the rig light overall. As for the grille, we would stick with the Jeep slats instead of the bug-eyed robot look.