The Jeep CJ-7 you see in this picture is mind-boggling. It doesn’t look odd from the outside, but one peek underneath, and you’ll realise that you’re looking at the work of a person whose brain needs to be studied under a magnifying glass. Because inside that brain is the genius capable of mounting a Buick engine into the rear of a Jeep. Using rebar.
“Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever,” I wrote back in June about a vehicle with a Jeep Cherokee front end on a Reliant SS1 chassis with a Mazda Miata powertrain, a differential from a Ford Sierra, and wheels from a Mini. That thing was absurd, and while I do think it retains the crown as the weirdest Jeep build I’ve ever seen, it now has competition in the form of a 1984 Jeep CJ-7 located in Auburntown, Tennessee.
Just flip through the pictures in the Facebook Marketplace listing, and it will become clear what I’m talking about. The interior photo shows a floor-mounted automatic transmission shifter in a vehicle that originally only had either a floor-mounted manual or a column-shift automatic. So right away, we know something is going on, here. But even this won’t prepare you for this next photo.
Under the hood is, well, not much. There’s a radiator, a battery, a brake booster, and master cylinder — all of this is normal. What isn’t normal is the fact that, in the background, there’s some strange, welded bracing between the firewall and front right fender; more importantly, there’s a fuel tank where an engine should be!
And, if you look closely, you can actually see that what should be a steering box has been swapped out for a rack and pinion steering setup. This is extremely rare on solid front-axle vehicles, and totally out of place on a CJ-7.
Then there’s also this photo of the rear of the Jeep, which seems to have some sort of tarp over the cargo area.
That’s when things go off-the-rails:
What the hell? Why is there a Buick 3800 V6 mounted transversely under the rear floor of this Jeep CJ-7, which came stock with a front-mounted 4.2-litre AMC inline-six?
Photos of the engine setup show that whichever Buick this engine came from also donated its entire front subframe to be welded (with the assistance of rebar!) to the Jeep’s frame:
“1984 Jeep one of a kind” is the entirely-appropriate title for the listing, posted to Facebook by a man named Cody Brandon. Here’s his description of this machine:
…You’ll never see another one quite like this, has been converted to rear engine, RWD, with a supercharged Buick 3800 series v6 engine. It’s an odd combination of well thought out, and what were they thinking. You could call it a jurassic park jeep not so much because of the paint job, as because they were so caught up in if they could, they never thought about whether they should.
He goes on to describe the $US1,800 ($2,520) Jeep’s condition as “rough”:
Jeep itself is rough, as you would expect from an ‘84 CJ. Good: Has full top (mostly good with some pinholes toward the back. Really nice FULL roll cage Seats that I believe came from the same buick as the engine Poison spider rocker armour Appears to have a superchips chip in the computer That said she needs a lot of work. Will run on starter fluid, gets spark fine, doesn’t get fuel properly. As it’s getting 15psi (but only 15psi) of fuel pressure, I’d say the problem is likely a bad fuel pump (which has some wires cut on it for some reason, we jumped the wires to make it run and test it). Trans is supposed to be good, but haven’t been able to test it. Stops, turns, and you can winch it on a trailer easily.
I spoke with Brandon over Facebook Messenger. He didn’t build the Jeep, but got it as part of a package deal that he agreed to in order to snag a CJ-5.
“I believe it’s the original buick transmission,” Brandon told me. “Note the coil springs in the pictures, they actually cut the frame about 2/3’s of the way to the back, and “fabricated” (booger welded) in the engine cradle and front suspension out of the buick into the back of the jeep.”
Brandon went on to say that, because this is a supercharged Buick V6, he thinks the cradle comes out of an early 2000s Buick [Regal] GS (Personally, I think — based on the shifter — that this motor came out of a Pontiac Grand Prix or Bonneville, and that the transmission is the 4T65E-HD). “He even went so far as to plumb the coolant hoses and power steering lines all the way the length of the jeep,” he went on.
As for the front end, it may appear stock, but it isn’t, and it’s not just because of that rack and pinion steering — the front axle is a dead axle. On a stock CJ-7, it’d be a live Dana 30.
“I have no clue what the front end is out of, but the frame has been stretched to take the leaf springs, I would say either DJ5 or 2wd cherokee at a guess,” Brandon told me, before mentioning that this Jeep has drilled and slotted rotors, for some reason.
Yes, you read that right. This Jeep, with a transverse-mounted supercharged Buick V6 powering the rear wheels and with a rack and pinion steering upfront along with a dead axle, has coilovers in the rear and leaf springs in the front. If that sounds backward to you, it’s because it is.
The whole thing is just utterly baffling, but once again a great example of just how Americans can get really weird with their automobiles with impunity. The fact that one could drive this legally on the street is one of the things that makes American car culture so great.