WHY A JEEP?
Growing up in Central Florida has some benefits other than Disney. The weathers nice with the occasional hurricane and the summer afternoon showers. A few houses down from where I grew up was a family that restored cars. A blue Super Bird with the huge fin in the back, a GTO Judge, and most importantly for me, a Jeep CJ5. The jeep came into the yard looking pretty rough. I think it was a light green, where the paint still showed. It was taken apart to the frame and the body was taken to an acid dip up near the T-Bowl. After a lot of sanding and bondo work the Jeep was eventually assembled and painted a dark green. The owner was a herpetologist and had the name Bush Master Painted on the hood. Yellow letters with the B and M made from snakes. The tires were Desert Dog Extras, an awesome tire that had tread that looked like Xs. You could always tell when he drove by because the tread left Xs as a trail. The jeep was a sweet and perfectly restored ride. I would say that from then on, I knew someday I would have a jeep of my own.
Fast Forward to 1991, No web yet just Auto trader. That was were you looked for cars, it was a magazine, you know the kind with pages that you turn made from paper. A 1981 CJ7 shows up in south Orlando for $800. Runs but needs some body work and TLC ... My wife and I ride up and take a look. 258 with working 4 wheel drive. The tub is held together with old real-estate signs and patches of aluminum. It came down from New Hampshire and the road salt had taken its toll. The frame is rusted and the springs are about to crush through. But it ran! We gave the guy the $800 and headed home. Finally a Jeep in my driveway. Black and rusty, but it was mine. I drove it that way for over a year, all the while bolting on new plates of aluminum and whatever I could find to keep my feet from going through the floor. Really, it was a joke that you don't want to hit the brakes on the passenger side or your foot would go through. We did a lot of trail rides out behind Sea World and it did well. Doors off, top down, I LOVED IT!
Fast Forward another year, I find a 1982 CJ7 in a junk yard with no motor or tranny, It looked like the front end had caught fire, but the tub and frame were rust free. After a bit of negotiation to save it from being crushed ( Nothing talks like $800 cash ) the junk yard towed it to my house and rolled it onto the driveway. We pushed it into the back yard and my sons and I stripped both jeeps down to the frames. Sanded and painted over some time one Jeep rose from two. A replacement windshield from a 1993, So I kind of had a 1981-82-83 CJ7. It was painted with spray cans like a zebra, a tiger, and finally like the Jurassic park explorers. It was named Jurassic Parts. The 258 did well and I did a spring over the axle mod to fit the 35" BFG mud terrains. I drove it like that for almost 4 years. Then the itch started. I had a friend who's CJ5 had 44 mudders and we had done some events together. So I swapped out the 258 for a V-8 from a Suburban and a new 3 speed. And made room for the 44s that were to come. They never did. There were problems with all the mods to fit the motor and tranny. Over powered and squirrely. Broken U- Joint were a common thing. I got good enough to pull over and replace them on the spot. The Jeep never ran as a daily driver. After some time I sold it, and the left over parts to a kid up the street. We moved up to Georgia for few years. Jeep was still in the blood. Some day Some day.
2016, 18 years after selling off the CJ7, the time was right. I always looked for Jeeps but the money and the deal never came together at the same time. Till this year. Enter my wife, hey look there is a Jeep up in Sanford for sale. We drove it home that day. And this is just the beginning of my Jeep story.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.