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Advice on Jeep CJ7

lakemadness

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A friends wife asked me to help her find a CJ7 for her husband as a surprise gift. I consider myself a rather knowledgable car guy. But when it comes to Jeeps I know little. So I'm looking to learn what to look for and what to stay away from. The husband is interested in cars but really doesn't know anything about them. So he wont care what it has for engine, trans or axles, tires etc. He's just always wanted a CJ7.

I quickly looked around on Bring a Trailer for values. The higher end ones fit well within their budget, so price is not much of a concern. Getting a fair deal is most important.

It has to be "done". Reliable, good looking and clean. This will be a complete toy that will probably never see dirt.

Thoughts? Examples? What years? Does anyone have one for sale? Links?

Thanks!
 

Tooned Up

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There are SO many variables when it comes to Jeeps. They are probably the most tinkered with toy/vehicle on the planet some mods good, and a lot bad. I think my biggest piece of advice would be to try and talk her into a TJ. The drivability it a 1000% nicer... coil springs, fuel injection, a/c, better brakes and steering, hard tops are more common and seal better, a lot of the sport models came with factory Dana 44 rear axles, and most importantly... find one with a 6 cylinder. Deals are out there for sure, but the TJ is truly the best bang for your buck when it comes to Jeeps!
 

lakemadness

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There are SO many variables when it comes to Jeeps. They are probably the most tinkered with toy/vehicle on the planet some mods good, and a lot bad. I think my biggest piece of advice would be to try and talk her into a TJ. The drivability it a 1000% nicer... coil springs, fuel injection, a/c, better brakes and steering, hard tops are more common and seal better, a lot of the sport models came with factory Dana 44 rear axles, and most importantly... find one with a 6 cylinder. Deals are out there for sure, but the TJ is truly the best bang for your buck when it comes to Jeeps!

Agree that the later model would be better for many reasons. But it needs to be a CJ7.
 

2Driver

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Ive had several CJs over the years. Yeah you might have some repairs to consider now and then but they are simple. They are also a lot a fun to putt around in

Obviously try to get a AZ car. Trying to find one that is a fully restored CJ might be more difficult but they are out there.

Best way to ride IMO is a bimini top and no doors. There is one in wickenburg for sale on CL. Personally, id consider it if looking. Educate yourself on the different packages back then. Ie renegade, golden eagle Laredo etc.

My old Renegade was so nice one of the lead engineers for the Jeep Rubicon came out from Michigan and bought it

Could always check Barret Jackson website or classic cars.com has a bunch
 
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Jed-O

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Never see dirt?! Poor Jeep
 

WYRD

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Try to find a CJ7 that is on a TJ chassis, he will have a CJ7 with the ride and comfort of a TJ and believe me the ride between the two is way different.
Comfort and jeep don't belong together....:D

Good thing about a cj7 is a factory v8 option. Always wanted a golden eagle
 

4Waters

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Comfort and jeep don't belong together....:D

Good thing about a cj7 is a factory v8 option. Always wanted a golden eagle
There are 2 V8 options in craigslist Ventura
 

530RL

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The last two years for the 304 V8 were 80 and 81.

76 - 79 have the original width axles. 80 and 81 have the wider axles due to the 60 minutes and government investigations into rollovers.

71 was the first year American Motors manufactured them.

If I had to rate them, I would shoot for 77-81 as they had disc brakes in the front and shoot for the 304 V8. I don’t like the wide axles so I would even cut that back to 77- 79 but many like the ride of the wider axles.

I’d also avoid Quadra-trac which was a transfer case on 76 - 79 CJ7’s that had automatic transmissions. They had a chain drive in the transfer case that was prone to breaking.

Older Jeeps are much cheaper than older Bronco’s and FJ’s.

Happy hunting.
 

sintax

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good examples of factory CJ's are kind of hard to find, but I think thats because they left a lot to be desired. MY ideal CJ would be as follows, late model 4.0 swap, dual dana 44 axles swapped in with proper gears, lockers, and disc brakes.

I'd avoid v8 swaps, most of my buddies who had the chevy swaps always had issues keeping them cool.

Honestly he'll prob hate the damn thing once he gets it, they factory one were kind of a pain, esp for someone whos never had to maintain an old car. Its all fun and games until your late to go somewhere and you flood the carb trying to start it....
 
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lbhsbz

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Several reasons why CJs are not a good idea:

1: trying to smog a carbureted vehicle is getting tougher...trying to find a shop to work on them is also tough.

2: parts availability...quality tune up/envisions parts are more difficult to find

3: they ride like shit

4: they ride like shit

5: I’ve never seen one without multiple exhaust leaks

If he wants a CJ, find something smog exempt and throw a disc brake axle under at least the front, otherwise, get him a TJ and put a chrome grill on it.
 

lakemadness

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Smog is not an Issue. We're not on California. She wants to get a CJ because thats what her husband wants. I'm not going to try to steer her in some other direction. This is going to be a complete toy. They might get it out a handful of times a year.
 

lbhsbz

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Smog is not an Issue. We're not on California. She wants to get a CJ because thats what her husband wants. I'm not going to try to steer her in some other direction. This is going to be a complete toy. They might get it out a handful of times a year.
An old carbureted engine will not work well getting out a handful of times a year. It will be a fucking headache, and then it will be yore fault.
 

DEEZNUTS

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Howell EFI swap is super simple, reasonably cheap, passes CA smog, and makes drivebility great. It's basically all OBD components from 87-91 gm 4.3 with retune. 258s are great engines and this gets rid of all the vacuum and carb shit. It is the best money you can spend on a CJ


Transmissions were hit and miss depending on models, Dana 300 cases are great.

Also, CJ frames are very weak, especially after years of being twisted up while wheeling. The front crossmember is a good indicator, they will have tears and crack visible without crawling underneath.
 

PaPaG

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I have a '78 Golden Eagle 304, quadra-trac that I have owned for just about 14 years and love it. VERY easy to work on, parts are everywhere, I would highly suggest a v8 over a 6. So much more power and he will rarely have an issue with needing power for light to medium off roading adventures. If he has his heart set on a CJ-7 and knows or has very little wrenching skills the CJ's are a great way to start...Have him look for one that has been partially or even fully restored vs getting a fixer upper would be my suggestion. PS I used to drive mine after it sits for 2-3 months at times and as long as my battery is charged it starts up right away and does everything needed out of a jeep....Vintage jeeps are great.
 

Gelcoater

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The last two years for the 304 V8 were 80 and 81.

76 - 79 have the original width axles. 80 and 81 have the wider axles due to the 60 minutes and government investigations into rollovers.

71 was the first year American Motors manufactured them.

If I had to rate them, I would shoot for 77-81 as they had disc brakes in the front and shoot for the 304 V8. I don’t like the wide axles so I would even cut that back to 77- 79 but many like the ride of the wider axles.

I’d also avoid Quadra-trac which was a transfer case on 76 - 79 CJ7’s that had automatic transmissions. They had a chain drive in the transfer case that was prone to breaking.

Older Jeeps are much cheaper than older Bronco’s and FJ’s.

Happy hunting.
Dan knows Jeeps:D

I agree with what he’s saying here.
I don’t remember the V8 going into the 1980s but that may be a Calivs AZ deal.
I’d look for a 304/3spd manual, with the Dana 20 transfer case, avoiding the quad track deal. Scotty’s Jeep used to use the Dana 20 on their mud racer, 1000+hp and giant paddle tires. If they didn’t break one, you never will.
Find one with a simple EFI swap to avoid the carb issues because I do agree the guy that said if it’s only used a few times a year a carb will be a nightmare.

They are simple vehicles. They ride like shit, they have the aerodynamic coefficient of a block wall, horrid fuel economy, lack safety devises of any kind and are about the most fun you can have in a car:)
 

t&y

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A real jeep has round head lights and leaf springs = CJ. You don't buy it for the ride, but the experience.

There is a nice one on here for sale currently, and PapaG was??? trying to sell his awhile back. I'd own either one is a heartbeat if I could justify a third jeep in my stable.

Whatever she ends up with, make sure it is 76 and up. Pretty tough finding aftermarket or replacement parts for 75 and older. They exist, just not even remotely close to the variety.
 

BajaMike

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Nightmare.....get him a new 4 door Jeep CJ....stop the guessing/.
 

Quicksilver

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A friend of mine had an 86 CJ7 with inline 6 that he put the Howell fuel injection on to avoid the carb issues and it ran great. He kept wanting more power so eventually I helped him swap in a fuel injected 350 V8 from a Chevy truck. There are so many venders out there you can build darn near anything.
 

Dana757

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good examples of factory CJ's are kind of hard to find, but I think thats because they left a lot to be desired. MY ideal CJ would be as follows, late model 4.0 swap, dual dana 44 axles swapped in with proper gears, lockers, and disc brakes.
A TJ Rubicon comes stock with all that ..... and way better suspension to boot. Mine has a long arm kit and rides super soft. But if he has to have a CJ I'd recommend ..... a kidney belt. :D
 

boatpi

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As I recall The CJ six cylinders were prone overheating and when they overheated the head cracked and that was that.
 

cjbuilder1

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We've had an "84 CJ7 in our family since '94 and use it on and off road regularly. Find an factory A/C equipped Laredo. Comes with a bigger radiator with fan shroud, tilt wheel, tack, passenger sissy bar. I would recommend at least a basic cage roll bar regardless of which top is in the Jeep. We're in Central California and have never had our rig overheat. Repowered with a 4.0 in '00 and got it thru California smog. Best modification you can make. After that, there are so many variables depending on how you are going to use it you would have a book of information to go over. Our observations: Don't lift so high it's a pain to get in and out of, stay with 33" tires unless you upgrade both axles, and it will never corner like a Honda Civic. Have fun and get to Jeeping.
 

Mandelon

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https://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/cto/d/solana-beach-1974-jeep-cj5-with-new-304/6944833517.html



1974 Pre Smog Jeep CJ5 with the coveted 304 V8 engine(just rebuilt for $5000. at MJM engines in Escondido with transferable 100k warranty) Comes with receipts, 3 speed manual transmission, power steering, 4WD with lockout hubs, 33x12.5x15 BF Goodrich all terrain tires, new seats, custom 4 point harnesses, Full roll cage, Stainless Steel dash with all new gauges, new clutch and flywheel, new engine mounts, new water pump, new battery, new belts and hoses, new starter motor, aluminum radiator, new alternator, Holley Carburetor, headers with dual exhaust, Edelbrock performance intake manifold, all new wiring-everything works, CB radio, full roll cage, new suspension with 4 inch lift-(that's correct 4 inch lift SPRINGS-not extra shackle addons that make them unstable), new rancho shocks including steering stabilizer, rebuilt steering components, new gas tank and pump, new brakes all around, starts right up and is very dependable. 6 KC highlighter off road lights! It even has a cover AND a black BESTOP full top with doors and the Bikini top shown. Now it also has a pair of rugged ridge heavy duty floor mats that are really nice. The Jeep also sports a heavy duty tow hitch for towing behind your truck or motorhome, and an 8000 pound WARN winch. It's all ready to go and leaks not one drop of oil. All new seals and gaskets. NICE! Maybe the best thing is you will never have to get your car ported over the mountains like in the last couple pictures. That can get really expensive!
 

530RL

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People ran carburetors for decades with no problems. I would not be afraid of a carbureted version even if it sits.

My 76 sits a lot and fires right up with a squirt of brake cleaner in the carb. Swapped to a 401 which is a straight bolt in as the blocks are identical, swapped knuckles out on the front axles for a 78 so I could get disc brakes. Ford 9 inch in the back with Wilwood discs.

I prefer the Rancho 2.5 inch lift over the Rough Country 4 inch lift. The 4 inch gets a little tippy on that short of a wheelbase.

Mandelon's ad is not bad but I would hold out for a CJ7. I do like the ad's Mickey Thompson wheels. Classic 70's look.

In Arizona it costs 5 bucks a year to register them and you can register 5 years at a time.

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PlanB

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We have a car with a 4150 that only has 8k miles on it, and we have had it since 06. Carb needs to be rebuilt again because it does not like to sit. I am going to FI because I am sick of carb issues. I would stay away from a carb if it’s going to sit a lot.
 

sml

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Ain’t nothing like looking down the hood of a CJ....nice ones are out there and i hope they find what they want.

I would never try and talk someone out of wanting one but having said that, an old cj is probably the worst thing to own for someone that isn’t mechanically inclined. Fuel injection kits are nice and should be a requirement for someone not familiar with a carburetor. Hopefully they have a good mechanic or friends when he needs help with something.

I’ve had a few and the one i liked the most for drivability was my 84 with a 258, twin stick, wide track axles with a 5 speed. A v8 cj is fun for the street and that sounds like what this is gonna be so i’d look for one of those. My next one will be a side piped built v8. Pulling the front wheels in a cj on the street is fun :D

Run a non ethanol fuel and it’ll be fine sitting for periods of time. Just start it once in awhile. My ‘52 m38 sits for long periods of time and starts right up after a few pumps of the throttle.




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