Moses Ludel’s 4WD Mechanix Magazine – Jeep High Performance Tuning & Technology
This 1982 CJ-7 engine bay is packed full with a Corvette LS-1 V-8! Built and tuned to 550 horsepower, the engine requires backing from an NV4500 one-ton truck transmission and Dana 60 axles front and rear.
Performance to many Jeep 4WD owners is simply reliability and trailworthiness. This can mean mild upgrades for more stamina or precise tuning to extract available horsepower for trail stability. Here, the journey and the destination are one and the same.
Then there’s high performance…Since the inception of Jeep 4WD civilian use, there have been Jeep builders bent on maximizing power, speed and performance. Whether leading the local 4×4 club runs, competing in local events or working up to sanctioned racing, the focus is better sand traction, hill climbing ability, rockcrawler traction, mud bogging success or sure-footedness over the worst kind of back country trails and water crossings.
The hot powertrain has a matching chassis, featuring link-and-coil suspension and a stretch to 104″ wheelbase. See details on this 1982 CJ-7 in the “Jeep Feature Vehicles” section of the website!
In recent years, the lines have blurred between out-and-out competition vehicles and street legal, high performance Jeep buildups. With the advent of electronic fuel-and-spark management, a 400-plus horsepower Corvette crate engine will now emit a mere fraction of the tailpipe pollution produced by wheezy, 116 horsepower carbureted 4.2L Jeep inline sixes from the ’80s! Street legal as a swap engine, a high-tech, tuned port V-8 powerplant is now the engine of choice for many Jeep CJ and Wrangler buildups.
Of course, the price of admittance to this kind of buildup is high, and some take satisfaction in more modest accomplishments. From my vantage, I’m happy to cover all of it…I know full well that a “Jeep” has always meant personalizing a 4WD to meet owner—or family—expectations.
My angle has always been reliability and access. This, of course, is subjective. Access for some of us is the family’s Wrangler, CJ or XJ Cherokee capable of reaching an out of the way camping spot, fishing hole or hunting venue. For others, the aim is scaling the steepest rock pile at a local 4×4 gathering, revving a high performance V-8 transplant engine to its redline. Some Jeep 4WD owners like the solitude of camping above timberline in deer or elk country. Others vie for the shrieks and hollering of a gathered crowd.
A California-based CJ-7, this one is trail ready—and then some! Built to quasi-racing standards, every element of the vehicle means business. The dash instruments have a competition profile…A Jeep 4WD with 50-State street legal status, the CJ-7 drives daily on the highway and is capable of any kind of trail challenge!
Regardless of your tastes or objectives, performance is just that—the ability of your Jeep 4WD to perform its best in your favorite venue. For that reason, I have devoted this website section to reliable performance. Whether your Jeep is a vintage four-cylinder F-head model or an out-and-out high performance rock crawling machine, suffice to say, I’ve worked with and tuned the wide range of engines and geartrains that find their way into a Jeep 4WD chassis.
From stone stock to out-and-out high performance, I enjoy engine, gear and chassis tuning. It’s always gratifying to make a Jeep run better! If that’s your aim and you would like tips on 4WD Jeep performance and tuning, send along your ‘Q & A’ questions. Regardless of its use or your budget, any Jeep 4×4 can become a real performer!