Our good friend Mike from Michigan booked us to work on his 1978 Jeep CJ7 Restoration.
It was a four-wheel Quadra-Trac drive Jeep with automatic transmission. This was a head-turning Jeep back in the late 1970s, and Mike is surely going to turn heads today when he hits the road.
But before we dive into the details of this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration process, here’s a short backstory on Palm Beach Customs.
We are car restoration veterans, working hard on restoring classic and muscle cars since the 1980s. With over 2100 completed restorations, people like Mike willingly give their treasured cars in our hands to make them look and work as good as new.
Now, let’s get back to the 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration process.
First, Striping-off Everything. Then Sandblasting.
We knew exactly what Mike wanted, so we immediately started with the 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration.
First, we stripped off everything: all the mechanical, electrical, and interior parts until we got a bare chassis and steel body. This can sometimes be a messy process, but it’s essential to separate everything right at the beginning. That way we’ll have a clear view of the situation and see the building parts’ condition.
In the next picture, you can see how the underside of the body looks at that moment.
Then we started with sandblasting until we got а perfect white metal.
You can see in the picture below how the body’s floor looked after the sandblasting.
As we already thought, we didn’t have big problems with rust. But still, we did our job in no hurry trying to achieve perfection.
We then used an epoxy primer and clear coat to keep the floor pristine and add some durability.
You can see how it significantly improved its look and condition in the next picture. The picture is taken from above, so you can have a full and clear view of the floor.
We performed the same process on the chassis – a dry-type cleaning chassis we got from New Mexico so that it passes all our quality requirements as well.
You can see how it looked in the picture below.
We also pictured the chassis from a different angle. It’s a basic building block where the 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration starts. We always pay close attention to this step, so we can start the restoration on solid grounds.
The next step in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration was applying a spray-on Bedliner, to give the interior a dark glossy-black look. The Bedliner is in my opinion the best protective and durable solution that looks refined and rigid at the same time.
Now the painting. For his 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration, Mike wanted us to change the original light blue color with factory white and black satin, and we couldn’t agree more with his choice.
We painted all the parts one by one: chassis, body, fenders, tailgate, hood, and the front grill radiator support. That approach, combined with the use of high-quality materials, always leads us to perfection.
Look how awesome this color looks in the sunlight:
Once we were done with the exterior, we quickly shifted into designing the interior.
Lots of New Stuff in the Interior
The 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration was not just a matter of body and chassis. Every part of the Jeep was included. So, after spraying Bedliner, we moved on with the interior restoration.
We completely remodeled the dashboard, adding plenty of new stuff:
- Heater control,
- Ignition switch,
- New old-school factory-made steering wheel with ignition to the side.
The Quadra-Trac 4×4 drive switch was inside the dashboard. On the floor, we added brand new Quadratec floor mats to match the interior design.
We also added black denim Bestop Trailmax seats that flip over and had handy storage bins on the back to match with the rest of the interior.
Right behind the front seats, we added speakers using 6×9 inches speaker wedge boxes that neatly fit in those specific gaps. Right above the speakers, we added cool cup holders so the passengers at the back seat could really enjoy the ride.
Between the front seats, we added a Tuffy console box, and installed a new radio to the front of the box, putting the winch control inside. The locks of this console box will make sure the electronics and everything else stays well protected.
To prevent chafing of the paint, we added new scuff plates that also gave an additional charm to this already beautiful Jeep. We can claim the same for the new visors – so timeless, so stylish.
And the new Quadratec floor mats gave this Jeep a perfect finish that perfectly matched the interior.
New Soft Top, New Tires! Everything is Brand New!
After finishing the interior, we added a new black denim soft top with windows made by Bestop. It came with a sturdy zipper and fitted perfectly with the Jeep’s body and style. The new soft doors followed the same color and material pattern, unifying the Jeep’s visual appearance.
In our CJ-7 restorations, we usually use 33 12.5 tires with a 2-inch lift. But at this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration, we used brand new 31 10.5, BF Goodrich, without lifting. This was Mike’s wish. And it turned out awesome. You can see that in the picture below.
You can see how much room the tire had. That was enough space for most 4×4 maneuvers.
Along with all that, in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration, we also included a spare tire on the tailgate and painted all rims in a matching black color.
Brand New V8 304 Engine
Knowing that the engine is the beating heart of any vehicle, we knew a brand new original V8 304 engine with a 3-year unlimited miles warranty will do an excellent job. It was the best solution that helped us achieve 3 crucial benefits in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration:
- Extend the life of the restored CJ7.
- Eliminate the need for small repairs in the warranty period.
- Move the attention from the Jeep’s engine problems to the driving enjoyment.
Only with that approach, we could accelerate the positive effects of this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration.
From the visual point of view, in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration, the inside of the engine compartment was done in the same way as the exterior. We used a base coat, clear coat, ultra-fine, and factory white paint. You can see that in the next picture of the engine’s front view.
Below is another picture with a side view of the new engine. The new carburetor, alternator, water pump, and Edelbrock intake are all in-focus, so you can clearly see them.
The new engine looks so powerful, and the stainless steel shines under the workshop’s lights. Perfect.
And now was time for an important engine and mechanics upgrades without which this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration wouldn’t be complete.
Important Engine and Mechanics Upgrades
Well, let me single out a few upgrades which take this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration up to a higher level.
We replaced the automatic transmission with a brand new one. In the picture below, you can see it still unpacked.
It is always important for these cutting-edge functional parts to be brand new and high-quality since they considerably extend the life of the Jeep.
That’s why we completely changed the suspension in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration. We put in new Rugged Ridge leaf springs, bushings, and shackles. That immediately improved the Jeep’s stability and capabilities. You can see the connection between the leaf spring, the shackle, and the frame in the following picture.
We took a new disk brake conversion kit and changed them on all 4 wheels. The brakes are one of the most essential parts for Jeep’s safety. Well, for every vehicle safety. That’s why we paid special attention and care while we worked on them. You can see them in the picture below.
We added many other things while working on this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration:
- We used a GM single wire electronic distributor with Edelbrock intake and a Holley Quick Fuel Carburetor.
- On top of the engine, we added air filters that breathe towards the top and sides.
- We put in a new oil cooler because it’s an automatic transmission car.
- We added an Interstate car battery with a black painted box.
- We did all of the wirings neatly using a wiring harness so that Mike can plug and play.
I shouldn’t forget to mention many other engines and mechanics parts that we changed with new ones in this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration:
- Integral Regulator Alternator
- Water pump
- Fuel pump
- U joints
- Heater motor and heater core
- Old school stainless bolts and fasteners on everything on the outside of the body
- Gen3 Smittybilt winch on the stock style front bumper
- All washer bottles
- Stainless steel exhaust
- Black painted mirrors, hood kit, rear bumper, and headlight bezels
And step by step, we managed to successfully finish this 1978 Jeep CJ7 restoration. If you want to see everything we’ve done on this restoration, you can check out our youtube video.
If you also have a Jeep for restoration or you want a Jeep restored, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll do everything to make sure every one of your wishes and ideas gets fulfilled.
At the moment, we are in the middle of a massive project of restoring 200 Jeeps that we’ll put up for sale once they’re done. So, if you want to pre-order yours, now will be a perfect time.
If you have any additional questions or need information, feel free to contact us.