Stock Rebuild/Restore

The 1987 Jeep Wrangler 4X4

For Jeep, 1987 was one of their biggest historical years. Chrysler purchased the Jeep® brand from American Motor Company and the Wrangler made its world famous debut. The 1987 Jeep Wrangler 4X4 had more in common with the Cherokee, than its image bearing cousin, the CJ. It was designed to be a friendlier version, if you will, of the Jeep, with a longer footprint and less ground clearance.

However, it didn’t take long for the critics of this new version of Jeep to come to grips with it and even begin to love it, as it was still the rugged 4×4 they loved and knew.  Since then, a massive aftermarket community has exploded, offering many options for the YJ units out there.

(Credit to for the quick history lesson on this particular year and style.)

This is the story of a father/son purchase and an Uncle/Nephew project build.

After returning home from college, Jeff wanted to find a hard top Jeep. His dad knew a dealer who had some and helped him with the purchase. He purchased his 1987 Jeep Wrangler with AMC 258 ci 4.2 inline 6 (first year of YJ), September/October of 1987, brand new. The dealer had 2 units left, a tan one with A/C and a black one without A/C. He decided he did not want a tan one, so, even without A/C, he chose the black one.

A few months after the purchase, his dad got him a soft top to use, which he did, a couple of times, but found it too hard to keep switching out. So he boxed it up and stored it. (He has it to this day, still in the box.)

When Jeff went to the Midwest for a boat show, he left the Jeep at home. His dad would call to let him know how well his Jeep was doing in the snow.

Jeff used the Jeep as a daily driver for years, even with his new family. His wife, Maggie Miller (Owner of Family Finds Fun, Blog & Facebook Page) and her son Wes Malik. (Co-Author of Kat Haas Outdoors)

He parked it around 220,000 miles, still running. Of course, after many years of not being run often and just being parked, age crept in and took hold. (Of the Jeep, not Jeff!) Whenever they had a yard project, they would have to push it around the yard to move it.

Jeff thought about selling it, but, it means too much to him and reminds him of times with his dad. Instead, after hearing his daughter ask him when they could go for a ride in the Jeep, he chose to share it with his step-son, Wes Malik, and his brother in law, George Woelfel, who has been a mechanic and an auto body technician for 30 years.

So now, as his son is in college, it seems a family tradition of having a Jeep during your school years is being passed from father to son.

A little about Wes in his own words.


“I’m a 20-year-old senior at Frostburg State University. My love of cars is only rivaled by my passion for bow hunting. The Jeep sat in the yard for several years and didn’t run (the motor was completely seized up and it needed body and frame work). My uncle is a body technician and has rebuilt tons of cars, jags, Camaro’s, mustangs, other jeeps, etc. I always wanted to learn about cars so he taught me as I helped fix it. “

The more they worked on the Jeep, the more they found wrong, rusted or missing/broken.

A little about the condition of the Jeep prior to the start of the rebuild.


The Jeep had sat for several years. The frame was rotten near the rear and needed to be patched, the motor was seized up and pretty much all of the fluid lines needed fixed or replaced. It was parked with a half a tank of gas, so the tank had to be pulled and drained. The whole front end was rusted, u-joints and the whole brake system needed to be replaced. The body had to be pulled off to do the frame work.


Wes shared a funny story about how the body had to come off the frame, but, I think the pictures do it a bit more justice.


Apparently, all they had was a John Deer tractor with a bucket, so, like any good back yard mechanic, they used it as a lift for the body. I think they did pretty good.


So, with the body off, the frame under repair, the engine and transmission removed, they put 5” of lift, (body lift and shackles). Also, new bumpers with a push bar in the front and a hitch in the back.

While trying to take the windshield out of the old frame in one piece, Wes cracked it (the first windshield he’d ever done)… So they had to bolt on the new frame with no glass. Now, a tarp is in place of the windshield until they can get one put in.

The lift kit they used is a Rough Country lift kit.  The new tread that will be holding it all up will be 265/75r15 in size.


As of right now, the frame has been restored and the body has been put back on. It is sitting at the garage, E & B Automotive, in Stevensville, MD, awaiting it’s new powerhouse to be put in.

What’s going to power this monster? Why, another AMC 258 ci inline 6.


The only thing Wes says is left to do is to drop the new motor in and hook everything up.


I can’t wait to see the finished product, the beauty that was created between family members.

Thank you Wes Malik and Jeff Miller for sharing your journey and your story with us. (Now, hurry up and finish it so we can show it off!

12 replies »

  1. Cool story. great pictures too. I bought my first Jeep in March and I am quickly learning they can take a lot of punishment but they also need a lot of TLC. Seems like all the heavy duty, dinosaur era mechanics can hold up under the stress of off-road driving wears quickly under the day to day stress on on-road driving.

    I love the old YJs they were the first Jeeps I fell in love with. If a YJ can out run a T-Rex (I hope someone gets that reference) I can be cool with square headlights. We actually almost bought a Wrangler (no doubt because of that movie.) But in those days the the Wrangler wasn’t the family hauler we needed, and instead we got a GEO tracker (fun story there too, maybe I’ll get around to writing about it.) Dad didn’t like the wind shield wipers and the awful manual transmission (his words I wouldn’t know I was probably 1 year old at the time).

    Great blog, I’ll be following along. Can’t wait for an update post.

      • I have the same goal. I am a journalist by trade. Are you interested in talking and writing someone’s story or more guest blogging. Id be interested in sharing my story one way or the other.

  2. Maybe both. I am not a journalist by trade, but, I have a love of writing. I love hearing people talk about their vehicles/projects, so, I would love to write these down.
    Not sure how to guest blog yet, but it does sound interesting.

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