Jeeps have a history of being a family tradition and this 1977 Jeep CJ-5 is no different. A gentleman named Frank, who grew up in a very small town in middle Georgia, brought this one to us.
Frank got his very first Jeep when he was 14. At the time, all of Frank’s friends were interested in the ever so popular muscle cars of the 60s, but Frank found that he was more intrigued by the capability of a 4-wheel-drive machine. He set about finding one by way of Army Surplus listings and after 6 months he finally won the bid on a 1952 Willys Army Jeep (military code M38A1). He spent 9 months rebuilding that Willys with a little help from his father. All of the scraping, cutting, and metal forming was done by hand. When all was said and done, Frank had built himself a pretty darn nice Jeep and it would become the talk of the town. “It wasn’t a great ride for dating,” Frank chuckles, “but my friends and I enjoyed the heck out of it!” Frank kept his first Jeep all through high school, but once a Jeep lover, always a Jeep lover and his first Jeep wouldn’t be his last.
After high school, Frank found a ‘51 Willys Jeep hiding in a farm’s shed in his town. For 10 years Frank begged the farmer to sell him the old CJ, and right after he graduated college, his persistence finally paid off. Frank handled this old workhorse the same way he had his first—garage build, turned town showstopper. After 12 years together Frank had gotten married with kids and was experiencing some financial woes. He did what he had to do and sold his Jeep to a family friend—who has promised that she will sell it back to him when she is finished with it. “I’ll get that Jeep back one day,” he exclaims.
Today Frank is the proud father of 2 kids—one is 20 the other is 23. They were brought up hearing Frank’s old Jeep stories, and when they were about 10 or 11 they started to express an interest in following in his footsteps. So about 10 years ago, they came across and bought this 1977 Golden Eagle Jeep CJ-5. At the time it was in pretty rough shape and Frank used its condition as an opportunity to teach his sons how to work on a Jeep. When it was finished, both of the boys used the 4wd vehicle to learn how to drive. “There are a lot of memories in that Jeep,” Frank reminisces.
As time went on, the Jeep went on serving its duty as a family farm vehicle and got a little beat up in the process. Everyone always had intentions on restoring the Jeep, but ultimately decided that maybe it was time to “do it right.” Frank had heard of us before and after a little due diligence, decided that American Resto Mods was a perfect fit for preserving all of the family memories the right way. “This Jeep will be in the family forever,” Frank explains.
The original plan was to build the Jeep for the mud! But as the project progressed, the plans got bigger and bigger until we had ourselves a pristine 1977 Golden Eagle Jeep CJ-5. “It’s so nice! We originally thought we would build it for the mud, but we have other vehicles for that. I figured we would just leave this one nice and let the Jeep heritage live on,” Frank clarifies.
In letting the Jeep heritage live on, Frank is also ensuring that his family heritage lives on. Pieces that represent all of their family traditions can be found in the custom airbrushed graphics that we did. They weren’t planned at first, but evolved out of ideas from family, friends, and guys at the shop. “Over the last 7 months, all of the guys at American Resto Mods have become like family to me. They have had just as much enthusiasm for the project as I have. They truly share in the joy of their customers and that makes the project so much better.”
We feel flattered that Frank chose us to build his Jeep. We feel honored that we will be part of something that will be passed down through generations.
- Body was unusable because of the amount of rust, so a new tub was needed
- Stripped down to bare chassis, media blasted, and powder coated frame
- New steel body is Rino-lined in and out
- Steering box is cleaned, sealed, finished in cast coat iron and reused
- Original 304 cu in V-8 showed good even compression and was resealed and reinstalled
- Engine is painted Chevy orange, old school headers were ceramic coated and reused
- The three speed transmission was boiled out, resealed and reused
- CJ-7 differentials upgraded with front and rear disk brakes, and all new hardware and cables
- New leaf springs
- One-inch suspension lift
- All suspension bushings are upgraded to poly-graphite
- Exterior paint is an “incorrect” Moca Brown, which has more pop than the stock muddy brown
- New Bestop top
- Upgraded heated seats with three point harnesses
- Roll over loop was retained and powder coated
- Instruments were calibrated, cleaned and reused
- Pull cables are very had to find, so Edelbock universal choke cables were polished, fitted to the dash for a functional, operational and esthetic choice
- Polished knob was found and used for the fan switch to make the dash controls uniform
- Steering wheel is of a stock looking variety
- Shifter is a Hurst T-handle that was previously used on the Jeep