Awesome Jeep CJ-7 Setup for Sand Driving and Dune Running
A Sand Jeep that Does It All
Jeeps perform well in many off-road environments from hard-core rock crawling, to mud, to desert racing and everything in between. And while it's easy to get overly focused on one aspect of off-roading in your Jeep, be-it rocks, mud, sand or snow, it is always fun to keep options open when it comes to what type of terrain you want to hit. Building a Jeep for sand dunes generally means a few things. First you'll want some horsepower to keep the tires turning come what may. Second you'll want some suspension that can soak up the bumps, ruts, and jumps. It's easy to keep going from here with modifications that you'll quickly realize are good for a Jeep that sees more than just sand. A good cooling system is a must to shed the heat that is created when romping the dunes. Also a good rollcage is always a good idea since accidents happen. Lockers, gearing, wide tires, beadlocks, all these things can make your Jeep or any 4x4 excel in the sand.
A Sand Jeep and More
So eventually the question then becomes: What can I add to my Jeep that is prepped for sand dunes to make it more capable on rock trails, snow wheeling, or mud? The fact is generally it won't take much. And while out in the desert surrounding King Of the Hammers 2020 we bumped into a unique 1980 CJ-7 Jeep built for sand and go fast fun. But there's more to this Jeep than just that one trick. With a few additional modifications this rig can also be used to crawl through some pretty serious rock trails. Check it out
Made for More Than Just The Sand
This Jeep is owned by Jordan Levine of Lake Forrest, California. Jordan has owned the Jeep for 15 years but has only really modified it for the past 5 or so. It was first built to be a Glamis rig and with every trip to the dunes it got more and more modified until it reached the extreme level of built-ness you see here. It's basically a trophy truck with some Jeep like remnants. And since a good project is never done, recently Jordan added some rock sliders and skidplates to the underside to make the Jeep more than just a sand Jeep, but able to stray up a rock trail or two. Still, since we like seeing a bear in the woods we took Jordan to some sand near the Hammer Trails.
Horsepower For the Sand
Under the hood of the Jeep lies a fairly mild Chevy LS3, 6.2L Aluminum block with an ASA cam tuned to put out about 540hp and about 510 lb/ft of torque. This engine replaced not one, but two small block Gen 1 GM engines Jordon killed in the dunes (he supposedly a bit hard on parts also breaking a Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear in the Jeep). These beautiful exhaust manifolds were built by Allen Motorsports of San Juan Capistrano, California, and the intake was rotated 180 degrees so a filter and fresh air could be gathered under the dash roughly where the glove box used to reside. Axles are a Currie fabricated front with '05 Super Duty outers, 5.14:1 gears, 35-spline axleshafts, and an Eaton Detroit Locker. Out back the rear axle looks like it fell out of a trophy truck and is a Blitzkrieg Motorsports fully fabricated and trussed housing with like gears, a spool and 40-spline axle shafts. Tires are 40x13.50R17 Toyo Open Country MTs wrapped around 17x9 KMC Machete's with a 5 on 5.5 pattern machined to be hub centric and mounted with 5/8 race style wheel studs.
Interior prepped for off-road
The interior of the Jeep is clean and well built. An 18-point, yep we said 18-point rollcage ties to the frame and supports the suspension as well as protects the Jeeps occupants. PRP seats and a beautiful custom dash with tilt up wheel, easy to see gauges, easily accessible switches and a wiring system featuring re-settable breakers (no fuses) all sit aft of a large tranny and oil cooler (the power steering system also has a cooler under the radiator). All of these fluid systems are independently filtered too! Interior lights, Rugged Radio and Coms, lockable middle console, master power switch in close reach for the driver, a Parker pumper, even a well-placed breaker bar to keep those hub-centric lug-nuts in check! Nice details. We can't imagine how many we missed!
Suspension and Drivetrain for the Dunes
Back underneath we forgot to mention the 3.0:1 Atlas II transfer case sitting aft of a Culhane Racing transmission prepped TH-400 in a Reid Race Case. Also nearly forgotten were the front 4-link with track bar and rear triangulated 4-link suspensions also built by Allen Motorsports. Boing comes from Fox 2.5 Coliovers with compression clickers, 4-tube 16-inch Fox 2.5 Bypass shocks and Hydraulic bump stops on all four corners. We love how the rear axle housing and shock mounts have been sandblasted by nothing but the sand the Jeep has driven over. The details don't end there. Up front a receiver hitch and wiring will accept a Winch if Jordan plans on hitting a trail that needs one. There are so many details on this Jeep that some are guaranteed to get missed, but we will mention the dual batteries, 24 gallon custom tank, Wilwood disc brakes, an Aeromotive fuel pump and California tags for those Sunday drives to the grocery store.
A 1980 CJ-7 for the Sand and Rocks
Clearly the Jeep is built for the sand, but you can bet it would work well on just about any rock trail if you don't mind the scrapes, scratches, and dents that may accompany a run up a rock canyon.