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Varnish 06-27-2007 12:43 AM

CJ front end on a YJ (write up, lots of pics)
List of ingredients:
'88 Wrangler w/1" body lift
'78 CJ5 hood, fenders, and grill

The CJ hood is a couple inches shorter and narrows more in front but has same hinge location as the YJ. The CJ hood has the same width and body shape at the tub on the YJ. The CJ grill is taller and about 2" narrower, I have seen write-ups where folks keep the YJ fenders and angle them in a tad while mounting the CJ grill a bit deeper so the hood lines up but I wanted to use the CJ fenders as well.

CJ hood was bolted on first because it was easiest. Hood lines right up with the YJ hinges and the YJ bolts were re-used without issue. The two outside rectangular tie downs that bolt in the middle of the hood transferred right to the CJ hood (not shown) but the center footman's loop is narrower on the CJ hood and I need to get a replacement for that. You can see how the hood fits right in there, just a bit shorter, the latches are set forward a bit more, and the fender would need to be pulled in about an inch to get the CJ hood to lay flat if you were gonna use the YJ fenders.

Next was to tear off the YJ fenders and grill. I just laid most of the various items bolted to the fenders across the motor temporarily to get them out of the way. I removed the radiator/shroud, coolant overflow bottle, and windshield washer reservoir. I had done a 4.0 swap earlier on the jeep but don't think that a 258 would be any different for this project.

The first major task was trimming the CJ fenders to fit around the YJ frame and shock towers. The CJ frame is narrower so the fenders come in too far and start to hit the YJ frame. The CJ5 must of had a different shock tower setup as well because there was quite a bit of trimming to get the fenders to fit. This pic shows the black line where I started at and then just did cut & fit, cut & fit, a half dozen times until I was happy. The trimming was all from that center notch back, the front half cleared everything OK. If I didn't have the 1" body lift it might have taken quite a bit more trimming off the bottom.

Once the fenders were fitted I could see where the grill was going to end up. It ends up right on top of my steel power steering lines. In this pic, the driver's side of the grill still needs to come down another 2" or so but can't because its already resting on the power steering lines. A 2" body lift might avoid this, but it'd be tight. I also have a TJ high pressure power steering line, the grey one shown, I don't recall if the old stock YJ high pressure line was similarly shaped, I think it went off to the drivers side frame rail along with the low pressure so it may or may not be an issue for everybody.

The solution to this was judicious trimming in the bottom and slightly up the driver's side of the grill. Luckily it is all done behind the face of the grill so is invisible from the front of the jeep. The grill was still pretty sturdy even with this metal removed but I ended up reinforcing the area later as part of my radiator mount anyways.

The CJ grill body mounting hole ends up about an inch back from the YJ location. What I found interesting was I no longer needed my 1" body lift puck. A standard body mount bushing just fit inside the gap between the YJ mount & CJ grill. When I disassemble this again for painting I'm going to double check this, but it sure didn't want to move up anywhere close to getting that 1" puck in there.

What I did to make up the difference is extend (weld) the CJ grill mounting point with some shaped 1/8" flat stock and drill a new hole over the YJ frame mount. This lets me bolt my YJ grill back on again if I run that while I do much needed body work on the CJ pieces.

Varnish 06-27-2007 12:43 AM

At this point I've got all the body panels where they are going to go.

Next was to fabricate a mount for my YJ radiator. You could probably just buy a CJ radiator but I had just bought my YJ a new radiator in the past year and didn't want to buy another. The CJ radiator is recessed into the grill. Since the CJ fenders are shorter you lose about an 1" of radiator clearance to the fan. The radiator does have to be spaced off the grill a bit as well to make sure the cap clears the hood when shut. Here is what I ended up with:

Made a little bridge on the previously cut out area to get a bottom mounting point. Since the flat stock would make the radiator flush with the inside edge of the grill, I use some spacers to move it out about 1/2" so the hood clears when shut. I did this without modifying the original CJ radiator mounting holes so that if I ever need a replacement I can just get a CJ radiator. I also am able to mount the YJ fan shroud to the radiator like normal. I ended up with about 3/4" clearance between the radiator & fan, close but should be enough.

I am using CJ support rods from the tub to the grill because the YJ rods are too long and aren't threaded far enough back to work.

Putting the front plastic cover on the front of the frame makes it look pretty good imo, not as big of a gap in front as I expected.

The stuff that was bolted to the fenders (coolant overflow reservoir, windshield washer reservoir, horn, 4.0 PDC/computer) all went back where it was before. I had to drill a hole or two, or use a bolt w/nut where there might have been a captured nut on the YJ fender but overall it was pretty much just put everything back. I skipped replacing the reinforcing struts that go from the bottom of the tub's firewall to the fenders but will probably put at least one on each side after I disassemble for paint. The fenders already feel pretty solid though.

After the motor was back to running condition it was onto the lights. The driver's side of the bulkhead connector contains all of the front end light wiring. The YJ's harness was laid back along the driver's fender and into the grill as it was before. The CJ headlights use the same 3 prong connector and plugged right in. The side marker light connectors on the fenders had to be extended about 6" but they plugged right in. The one area that is different are the front signal/running lights in the grill. The YJ uses a large harness utilizing three wires whereas the CJ uses only two wires. The difference is the YJ has a dedicated ground wire (black) and the CJ grounds through the signal housing into the grill.

3-wire YJ plug is in the background and 2-wire CJ connector is in my hand.

Fix was to cut off the YJ connectors, for my '88 at least the wiring went like this:
Drivers side:
Running lights = YJ blue wire = CJ White wire
Left Signal = YJ grey w/black tracer = CJ Green w/White Tracer
Ground = YJ black = unused

Passenger side:
Running lights = YJ blue wire = CJ White wire
Right Signal = YJ Brown wire = CJ Green wire
Ground = YJ black = unused

Here is where its at now, I am trying to track some fender flares down. I plan on using some TJ hood latches as well. I'm gonna run it for a few weeks before putting it back to the YJ front end so I can clean up & paint these CJ pieces.

For more reading, here's another thread.

mp3coupe 06-27-2007 02:08 AM

nice write up! :thumbsup: I'm about to tackle the same job. I got a 79 front clip waiting to get mocked up.

yj_hank 06-27-2007 06:26 AM

Nice job on the write up and the jeep looks great. I look forward to seeing the finished product with paint.


jeepwrnglr92 06-27-2007 07:11 AM

looks great.

ovrlnd 06-27-2007 08:39 AM

lots of good info here! Great Writeup!

goatboy 06-27-2007 10:42 AM

Great it looks like a Man's Jeep! LOL

atomicmoose 06-27-2007 12:24 PM

Looks nice.

Before your swap, our Jeeps looked very similar.

Jay-P 06-27-2007 02:31 PM

Awesome write-up, im going to be tackling this sometime this summer.

Bender92YJ 06-27-2007 08:22 PM

looks good.

Samgler 06-27-2007 08:25 PM

Look hella nice. I'd like to see it painted.

84 400 06-27-2007 10:14 PM

would a cj 7 front cut down on the gap at the grill since the cj7 had longher fenders then the cj5?

Great write up btw!!!!

Big-n-Broke-YJ 06-28-2007 05:11 AM

since you have the two side by side basically i wonder if you could answer a question for me...

could i install a cj hood and grill and retain the tube fenders made for my YJ? if the yj fenders bolt up to the cj grill then my answer is yes... i just wanted to verify before i wasted money on stuff i don't need/can't bolt on....


-Erik <--- loves the new look

Varnish 06-28-2007 11:13 AM


Originally Posted by 84 400
would a cj 7 front cut down on the gap at the grill since the cj7 had longher fenders then the cj5?

Great write up btw!!!!

Pretty sure the cj5 hood/fenders are the same size as a cj7, the length is shortened in the tub rather than the front end.


since you have the two side by side basically i wonder if you could answer a question for me...

could i install a cj hood and grill and retain the tube fenders made for my YJ? if the yj fenders bolt up to the cj grill then my answer is yes... i just wanted to verify before i wasted money on stuff i don't need/can't bolt on....
I put the cj grill briefly in place with the YJ fenders on but with the power steering line interference I couldn't seat it down fully to tell exactly where things would end up. Based on this write up I read prior to my swap, it didn't sound like it'd fall right in place. The fenders would toe in about an inch on both sides and while the stock fenders might give along the sides of the grill to flush up I'm not sure your tube fenders would have that kinda play. Anything could be made to work but I wouldn't expect it to be a bolt-in sort of deal for sure.


The YJ nose is about an inch longer than the CJ nose. So, you must move the CJ grill backward so that the second row of holes in the YJ fenders line up with the threaded inserts in the grill shell. You will of course require some bodywork to fill-in the unused holes that are left sticking out past the grill. You'll also need to drill a couple of holes in the fender to match with the threaded inserts in the grill shell, fill in the YJ hood catch holes, drill one new hole in each fender to match up with the catch locations on the CJ hood, drill new holes for the hood cushion pads, and grind a bit of the reinforcement lip off of each fender in order to get a flush fit against the grill. Alternately, you can cut and re-bend the rear edge of the fenders where they mount to the body, thereby shortening them back to CJ length. This would give you more tire clearance at the back edge of the fender opening.

JeeperDon 06-28-2007 01:27 PM

My two cents. There is more to a CJ than the hood and grill. The YJ rear wheel shape just looks wrong with the CJ clip. Then there is the old school dash. Putting a full CJ tub and front cluip on a YJ could be nice.

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