By Michael Kitchens
Name: Victor Mercado
Occupation: Retired project manager
Hobbies: Fishing, cars
Year/Make/Model: 1978 Jeep CJ7
Color: Yellow with Pink Pearl
Build time: More than 10 years
Engine: 304 V8, 4-speed transmission, stainless steel headers, dual Borla exhausts, msd distributor, stainless steel blower, Edelbrock dress yellow and red detailing including steel-belted hoses
Exterior: Pin-striping and barbed-wire details, vinyl roof cover, various chrome pieces, black painted metal flake bumper, moldings, and roll cage, chrome step-up
Interior: Grant GT steering wheel, aftermarket gauges, polished aluminum pieces, imitation koa-wood cup holder, tachometer with shift light
Wheels/Tires/Brakes: American Racing 15-inch wheels with Xterrain Pro Comp 33x1250R15LTs all around
Victor Mercado used to attend car shows and marvel at the rides being presented. He had never owned a fully modified vehicle, but the desire for a hot rod was constantly there. And then one day while fishing, Victor caught a glimpse of another type of automobile that simply blew him away. Surprisingly, it was a jeep.
“I saw one and my jaw just dropped,” he recalls. “You could hear it coming. I looked at it and wished I could have one.”
Thanks to his wife, Betty, his wish became a reality after she purchased this stunning 1978 Jeep CJ7 as a retirement gift for Victor in 2012. Although the vehicle was already equipped with a 304 V8 as well as the gorgeous yellow paint with pink pearl, Victor decided to put his own touches on this model.
Since the vehicle had been sitting covered for so long, he decided the paint was in need of refreshment. From top to bottom, Victor had the entire jeep detailed to the point you could eat off the fender wells.
The engine bay was given particular attention as every part was cleaned and color-matched for the fantastic yellow and red jacket theme. The V8 engine features stainless steel headers mated to dual Borla exhausts, an MSD Distributor as well as a ton of additional modifications. A sleek, stainless steel blower sits atop the engine and looks positively mean. Steel-belted hoses and color-matched electrical piping flows throughout the bay.
Continuing that theme, the exterior of the car was pinstriped by Victor to add to the look. In addition, the ride features tons of added details that please the eye, highlighted by the fantastic metal flakes embedded in the pitch-black paint on the moldings, roll cage and front bumper. The Jeep is also chromed out with various metal pieces and nice points such as the busy little bees on the doors. The roof had developed some damage to the paint, so Victor went old school with the addition of a gorgeous black vinyl top that gives the ride a bit of character.
It’s difficult to believe this CJ7 is more than 35 years old. The interior is also one of the nicest I’ve ever seen with chrome-plated additions and leather wrapped seats. The dash has a set of beautiful gauges with a plethora of shiny knobs. A wood-wrapped Grant GT steering wheel sits prominently as the interior continues its exterior theme of yellow paint, metal flakes and barbed wire emblems. It’s lit softly by a set of LEDs that switch color on command as well as a huge tachometer with shift light.
Victor admits he’s not a rich man. He’s spent a long time waiting for a ride like this. This Jeep holds special meaning to him because there’s no way that he could have afforded it without the help of that special someone.
“People tell me that’s the nicest jeep they’ve seen,” he says. “I thank my wife for that. Without her, I wouldn’t have it.”