jeep cj7 restoration

Jeep CJ7 Restoration Guide: How I restored my CJ7

Jeep CJ7 Restoration can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but with proper planning and research, it can be rewarding too.

Known as “The Barnacle” my Jeep is a 1984 CJ-7. I picked it up in 1989 as a vehicle to go back and forth to school in Rhode Island. It was bone stock and had 34,000 on the odometer– a creampuff.

Jeep CJ7 Restoration Process

This is how to do a Jeep CJ7 Restoration:

1. Remove the Manifolds from The Driver’s Side of The Engine

I had been running the OEM header since I did the 4.0 head swap 3 years ago. The tubing was small (1.75″ I.D.) and bombed out due to numerous exhaust retrofits, battles with rocks, and general 4 wheeling carnage.

The muffler I had made about 10 years ago out of an old water-filled SS fire extinguisher. It has held up very well and will be spruced up (again) and installed on the Willys.

The new stainless steel header I bought off Ebay for about $210 (including shipping). As far as I can tell it is exactly what Banks sells as their Torque Tube. This is the SS409 model. Pictured below, before I cut the flange off it, laying on top of the old header.

stainless steel header installation while i restored my cj7

Here are the “new” and “old” intake manifolds. The ‘new ‘ one is (as far as I know) from ’99-’06 4.0’s. The ‘old’ manifold is from ’91 – ’98 4.0’s. I have heard a ton of hype on the late model manifolds that claimed a ton of power increase by installing it. You can clearly see the octopus-like design of the late model.

Jeep CJ7 Restoration process

The earlier model has the runners branching off each other

the late model has all the runners meeting in the plenum, which is much larger than the earlier models. The equal length runners to each cylinder give them all the same advantage as far as air delivery. I wish I had this manifold on my 258 years ago!

It all took a bunch of time of installing, tacking, and rechecking the fit and placement of the parts– at least 10 times… here is the final result- the header pipe travels straight down, underneath the clutch linkage. Note the O2 sensor bung.

2. Install a Hanger on The Pipe to Allow the Header to Be Bolted to The Engine/transmission assembly

I have found this GREATLY reduces the stresses on the header and allows it to remain crack free for a MUCH longer time.

To establish a serviceable joint between the header and the rest of the exhaust, I have grown fond of using stainless steel plumbing unions. Using copious amounts of anti-seize when installing and then copious amounts of WD-40 upon removal allows for a maintenance-free joint. They hold up very well, provide a great seal, and don’t require any sort of gasket.

I have found that the facets on the nut can make it difficult to get the wrench in just-the-right spot, so I turned the new one smooth on the lathe. It will allow for quick work with a chain wrench.

3. Fabb up The Parts, Tack Them Together in Place, and Weld

Now, its time to weld the parts together.

4. Install the Throttle Body

Bore out the throttle body, which entails removing the ‘choke’ from its bore. The choke is located below the throttle plate. Again– having a lathe comes in handy. For those that know the notorious whistle that comes with the 4.0 throttle body, this boring seems to have quieted it down quite a bit.

5. Install the Freshly Painted Fuel Rail with Hesco (black -Pn 53030778) Injectors

The HESCO 23.2 lb/hr injectors are to make up for the larger throttle body and the increase in displacement from 4.0l to 4.3l (it’s a bored 258 bottom end). Note the fuel pressure gauge and adjustable HESCO fuel pressure regulator. I adjusted it to just under the stock 39 lbs., with the vacuum line disconnected.

6. Start the Engine

I have clear-coated the intake to keep it nice and shiny for a while– we’ll see how the lacquer holds up to the underhood temps. Especially with parts of it being right next to the exhaust.

7. Put the CAT and Muffler Together

(Dynomax all stainless glass pack — eBay $20 brand new!) are together.

As for the performance of it all– well, it certainly has a bit more throttle snap! It accelerates much smoother and has a bit more all through the power range. It was worth the $$, time, and materials. I am planning to get it on a dyno sometime this winter.

Jeep CJ7 Restoration Results

From its simple beginnings, it now boasts:

  • 4.2 bored 0.030 (now 4.3), balanced, w/ 4.0 head and MPI, Centerforce Clutch, T-18, D300 w/Lo-Max 4:1 & clocked flat, CV shafts F&R, front axle: D30 w/ ARB, Yukon shafts and joints, rear axle: M20.
  • Shaved & trussed w/ ARB, Summers Brothers shafts, disc brakes & U-bolt flip kit,
  • 4″ BDS springs w/ RS9000’s in the rear,
  • 34 x 9.50 TSL’s w/Staun internal bead locks on 15 x 7.5 OEM chrome wagons,
  • York OBA w/ tank, electric cooling fan, grafted in 1/4″ steel rockers, 6 point cage w/ padding 
  • Hyundai Tiburon seats, Warn M8000 w/ in-cab-control & masterpull synthetic, HD shackles, HD steering box brace, CB radio, Prodigy brake control, 4 point belts, hydro snow plow pump/valving for plowing snow,
  • 300,000 miles, homemade muffler & exhaust, brushed/rolled on paint, patched body.

Tools Needed for a Jeep CJ7 Restoration

These are the tools required for a Jeep CJ7 Restoration:

  • Hammer.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Drill.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Nail Gun.
  • Wire Brush.
  • Pliers.
  • Socket Set.
  • Ratchet.
  • Wrench.
  • Paint roller.
  • Wheel bearing grease.
  • Spray lubricant.

Jeep CJ7 Interior Restoration

To perform a Jeep CJ7 Interior Restoration, follow these steps:

1. Remove Any Loose or Broken Pieces of Furniture or Flooring

This will help you get a clear view of the undercarriage and make it easier to clean.

2. Remove Any Dirty or Stained Carpets or Upholstery

Make sure to get rid of any huge stains before cleaning as it will make the Jeep CJ7 Interior Restoration process much easier.

3. Perform a Deep Cleaning of the Jeep CJ7’s Interior

A deep clean is necessary to give the car’s interior a fresh look.

If you Ac is not working, it can ruin your jeeps interior restoration, so check out my guide on how to do a Jeep Air Conditioning Bypass.

Where Can I Find Jeep CJ7 Restoration Parts?

When you are looking for restoration parts for your Jeep CJ7, the first place to look is at your local auto store.

You can also find Jeep CJ7 Restoration Parts online on eBay.

Where Can I Find Restored CJ7 for Sale?

You can find restored Jeep CJ7 for sale at your local car dealership, or you can find it online on eBay.

Jeep CJ7 Gauge Restoration

This Jeep CJ7 restoration project is a great example of how to restore a vehicle using quality parts and a well-planned restoration. The Jeep CJ7 was built from 1984 to 1988, so it is a popular vehicle that can be restored to its former glory.

CJ7 Restoration Cost

The CJ7 Restoration Cost was mainly of the materials which came out to be $800, but this doesn’t include the cost of labor, which is usually the biggest expense.


I hope you found my Jeep CJ7 Restoration Guide useful because I have laid out the process as simple as possible.

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