When Roger Gaunt decided to replace his 1931Model A Ford Roadster earlier this decade, he went searching for a truck that had the unusual option of becoming a convertible.
Gaunt, who lives in Gladstone, understood that limited his options.
“Convertible trucks are rare in this country,” Gaunt said.
Gaunt set his sights on the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler, which was produced by American Motors Corporation from 1981 to 1986. Only 27,000 Jeep Scramblers were manufactured.
“I wanted a blue standard Scrambler,” Gaunt said.
The search began. For two years, he searched the Internet, trying to find a Jeep Scrambler to his liking.
“I looked for a long time,” he said. “I like original vehicles. Most people have modified them and put in V-8 engines, lowered them or raised them.
“When I went on the Internet, I saw they have either been turned into a hot rod or they were wrecks. I found a couple originals.”
The search took him to a car dealership in northern Iowa.
“I asked them to hold it and I went up there, and it was gone,” Gaunt said.
Gaunt later found a blue Jeep Scrambler in Belton, but decided he didn’t want to go through a restoration process.
Gaunt decided not to go that route. He finally found what he was looking for on Craigslist. It was in Wichita. The 1982 Jeep Scrambler was black instead of blue and it was an automatic.
“My wife looked at it and she said, ‘Roger, it is brand new.’ She said, ‘You have to do this,’” Gaunt said. “I’m never going to find one this perfect again. It was a relief.”
Gaunt made the purchase three years ago. He uses it during the summer for his business, Liberty Properties, which deals with rental properties.
One of the few things he did to the Jeep Scrambler was to add side rails, which he had bolted on. His company’s name is engraved on the rails.
“When I was looking to buy one, I saw a lot of them have side rails,” Gaunt said. “This one didn’t. I found a guy who makes them in Arizona.”
Gaunt switched from the off-road tires that came with it, too.
Another project Gaunt had for the Jeep Scrambler was to replace the doors. He wanted half doors.
“When you bought these new, they didn’t have half doors,” Gaunt said. “They had full size doors. I was told the ’97 and ’98 Jeep’s door would fit it. It took me two years to find the doors.”
Gaunt still has one more thing to do to his Jeep Scrambler to make it perfect for him.
“The top won’t come off,” Gaunt said. “I have to have the convertible. I like the fresh air. That is my next project.”
But even with the top on, Gaunt loves his Jeep Scrambler.
“It is unusual,” he said. “Every time I get gas, people come up to me and ask what is that.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com