It might sometimes seem that we are just going crazy with 4x4s that aren’t really multipurpose vehicles but instead so extreme that cops laugh when they see them on the road; that we’ve sort of forgotten about the ones that don’t have to be trailered in. But if you even think that for a second, you’d be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Almost always, our favorites are the ones that pull up to the trailhead or park entrance after a two-hour drive, wheel all day, and then turn around and drive back another 100 miles, all under their own power. Larie Tales has a CJ-7 like this. He drives it to work every day, it goes with him when he plays, and, oh yeah, one more thing: It’ll take a Corvette in a quarter-mile drag.
Larie co-owns and runs Jeeps R Us, a Jeep restoration shop tucked into Laguna Canyon, California, that has been in business for more than 15 years and takes in more work than they know what to do with. With that kind of background, why wouldn’t you build yourself a supercharged 454ci-powered CJ-7 to commute in?
Larie Tales was looking for some serious axle strength without getting too bulky. Instead of going the common routes, Larie put in a call to Currie for a hybrid 9-inch frontend filled with 4.56 gears and an ARB locker. It’s hard to spot behind that axle, but you can just make out the additional crossmember that mounts an idler bearing for positioning the driveshaft close to the frame so it stays away from the 4L80E tranny. The driveshaft uses an additional CV-joint in front of the idler bearing to allow proper movement. The front is suspended by Deaver leaves that sit about 5 inches taller than stock, while Rancho shocks absorb the bumps.
A TBI 454ci engine from a ’92 Chevy was swapped in and humped by a Whipple Charger to make a serious power-to-weight ratio. All of the original smog equipment was also implanted under the Jeep hood to make for a California-legal engine swap. For kicks Larie takes his Jeep out to pick fights with cars that cost more than some houses and are driven by overpaid yuppies who fume at the thought of getting beaten by a Jeep.
This CJ-7’s rear Currie 9-inch has been plated on the bottom for additional strength in case of impact. It’s packed with the same ARB, 4.56 gear, disc-brake setup that the front sports. The power is fed from a Dana 300 that is mounted to a GM 4L80E transmission via Advance Adapters. All that drivetrain is stuffed up under the Jeep with the help of a 1-inch M.O.R.E. body lift to give enough clearance for the engine and drivetrain.
The paint on this ’84 CJ-7 has been done and redone numerous times, so don’t think Larie wusses out at the sight of a sticker bush. By now the clearcoat has reached about half an inch thick, so it can take quite a gouge without causing irreparable damage.
The interior of the CJ-7 is reminiscent of the original, but totally redone. Kustom Fit seats keep Larie and his passenger in place below a Smittybilt rollcage that’s painted purple to match. The RJR all-aluminum dash holds completely digital Nordskog gauges and a Sony head unit. A B&M shifter is mounted in front of a Tuffy security console and allows Larie to choose what stomping gear he wants to keep his 1-ton tranny in.
Vehicle: ’84 Jeep CJ-7
Engine: 454ci TBI with Whipple supercharger
Transmission: GM 4L80E automatic
Transfer Case: Dana 300
Front Axle: Currie 9-inch hybrid, ARB locker, 4.56 gears, disc brakes
Rear Axle: Currie 9-inch, ARB locker, 4.56 gears, disc brakes
Tires and Wheels: 35×12.50-15 Goodyear MTRs, American Racing 15x10s
Suspension: 5-inch Deaver leaves, Rancho RS 9000s