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Ken's Beach Cruiser Grows a Pair The 1983 CJ5 build that kicked off an obsession

My base rig was a 1983 CJ5. I think the thing was towed behind a motorhome in the 80’s for 29,000 miles and then sat in a warehouse until 2008 when I bought it. Since this was my Ken doll beach cruiser it didn’t have a top and since I was living in San Diego at the time I felt like I really didn’t need one. It wasn’t until I discovered Ty Brookharts How to Build the Ultimate Overland Adventure Vehicle—For Less Than $10,000 that really opened my eyes to vehicle based travel. I was getting more into surfing and back into snowboarding and wanted to start traveling to Mexico, Hwy 395, Death Valley, start exploring the “Overland Starter Pack”.

I needed a hardtop and I just happened to find Rally Tops based out of Torrance, CA right up the road from me. They build custom hardtops for all Jeeps even the 1983 CJ5. It was a no brainer for me since I wanted the CJ5 to be fully enclosed for travel.

Next I wanted to get rid of the chrome bumpers, sidebars, and wheels. The look was super 80’s and it was time for a refresh. The chrome wasn’t going to work. I decided to go back to a stock black front bumper, a RockHard 4X4 rear bumper, a Safari Rack from Warrior Products, and a set of white steelies. I was really uncertain on how this was going to look and if I was going to like it at all. I was going for a vintage Defender vibe.

After what seemed like forever I got the call that my hardtop was ready. I decided to keep the top and doors white to match the wheels (it was also cheaper). I also knew that if I ever decided to paint the top or doors white would be the easiest to do.

I dig the look and feel inside and outside the cab now. It's nice to be able to finally hear the radio, turn the heat on and stay warm, and have a conversation. That weekend I took her out for her maiden voyage to Joshua Tree. I had no idea what I was getting into but had a good time, didn't get stuck, and was thrilled how she handled.

This little rig just opened up an entire new world for me. I'm excited to continue to explore and share my build here. To be continued...


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