Featured Vehicle Build: 1981 CJ-7

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Like many good things that came out of the 1980s, this 1981 Jeep CJ-7 sparked nostalgia in us when one of our customers showed it to us. It was in rough shape, but we helped restore it to its old glory with a brand new, custom-fabricated frame.

This ’81 CJ-7’s Humble Beginnings

The customer, Jason K., bought this Jeep 7 years ago from a woman in Mission, BC. He found the CJ-7 on the woman’s property behind an outbuilding in tall grass. It was rotting away, but Jason felt that the Jeep deserved a better fate. So he had a heavy wrecker come to the property and winch the Jeep out. When the Jeep ended up on Jason’s trailer, he brought it home and gave it a thorough inspection. What he found was quite surprising.

Was This Jeep Really A CJ-7?

What we pulled out of the bush was supposed to be an ’81 CJ-7, but some things didn’t add up,” Jason wrote. A few features he found on the Jeep didn’t line up with the standard features found on the ’81 CJ-7. To be more specific:

  • The fuel fill was on the wrong side
  • The tailgate swung open
  • A few other oddities

Jason did find some original parts on the vehicle, including:

  • Hood
  • Front fenders
  • Grille
  • Windshield frame
  • Power train
  • Frame

Jason’s findings led him to believe that the Jeep had been re-tubbed. He wanted this Jeep to be a real CJ-7 and not a YJ with a CJ-7 front end. So he knew that he had a huge project ahead of him.

Disassembling The CJ-7

The first thing Jason did was roll up his sleeves and disassemble the entire vehicle. He bagged and tagged every part, nut, and bolt. To his disappointment, he found a great amount of rust and rot in the frame. For a moment, he felt that this Jeep may have been a lost cause. But he felt that the Jeep deserved better, and thankfully he kept going.

Getting A New Frame For The CJ-7

The rust repair on the frame extended beyond some patching,” Jason wrote. “I had [also] decided I wanted a healthy small block Chevy power plant.” This made Jason decide to get a new frame for his Jeep. And that’s when he discovered Throttle Down Kustoms.

I read through so many of the glowing reviews and testimonials [for Throttle Down Kustoms],” Jason wrote. At this point, he was convinced that Throttle Down Kustoms was the best option. He placed an order with us for a new frame with:

  • Small block Chevy motor mounts
  • Hitch receiver
  • Bumper-mounted spare tire carrier

As soon as we received Jason’s order, TDK owner Jeremy Pulse got right down to work. He applied his remarkable talent and years of experience as a fabricator to create a top quality custom CJ frame for Jason’s Jeep.

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Next, Jason had the new frame sent straight to a body shop in Port Alberni, BC called Urgel’s Autobody Shop. Everyone was blown away by the quality of the welds. In fact, Jason decided that he wanted these welds to remain highly visible. “I think [the welds] add to the final result,” Jason wrote. “The frame set the bar pretty high for [the rebuild].

Rebuilding The ’81 CJ-7

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With the frame ready to go, Urgel’s began the rebuilding process. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what they did to restore the CJ-7:

  • Switched back to the CJ-style tailgate
  • Corrected the fuel fill position
  • Installed a new firewall
  • Coated the Jeep’s underside in black bed liner
  • Lifted the suspension by 4 inches
  • Installed 35″ BF Goodrich tires
  • Fully rebuilt the front and rear differentials
  • Painted the body and differentials
  • Built the transfer case and turbo 350 transmission for the small block Chevy engine

Jason also took his Jeep to Kerry Young in the same town. “The wiring Kerry did and attention to detail in the engine compartment is incredible,” Jason wrote. Here’s what Kerry did:

  • Set up the engine and wiring
  • Tuned the engine
  • Rebuilt the heater box and controls
  • Installed an aluminum radiator with built in transmission cooler

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When the Jeep was finished, it looked nothing like the way it looked when Jason salvaged it 7 years ago. In addition to all the improvements listed above, the Jeep also has:

  • New low back seats
  • Bestop soft top and doors
  • New OEM steering wheel
  • Rebuilt factory steering column
  • LED headlights and tail lights

This Jeep has had every nut and bolt replaced,” Jason wrote. “Absolutely everything else has been rebuilt or replaced with new Omix Ada parts where possible.

Jason’s Testimony About His TDK CJ-7 Frame

CJ7 frames

When you’re rebuilding a vehicle, the frame sets the standard for the project. The rebuild is only as good as the frame it sits on. At TDK, we understand this. That’s why we value workmanship so much when building our frames. We won’t stop until our frames are perfect in every sense.

The welds and engineering [of my TDK frame] provided such a sound solid base from which to begin a project,” Jason wrote. “While I am very proud of the end result, I love it when people get in close and really examine that frame. I can attest that Throttle Down Kustoms builds a great product. Thank you for everything!

We were very honored to be offered the opportunity to help bring Jason’s dream CJ-7 to fruition. We think that the Jeep looks amazing, and we’re proud to be a part of the project!