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GFox 06-23-2013 02:25 PM

CJ hood and grille on YJ Wrangler
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This topic has been covered before but I thought I'd share my take on the project. I've owned 7 Jeeps including 3 Wranglers so I wanted something a little unique for my '94. It's bone stock except for a 2" body lift and completely rust free.

I had a line on a complete CJ front clip, but for some reason the guy sold the fenders to someone else (after he had agreed to sell it all to me). After that, I found another Craigslist ad for a hood and grille from a '79 CJ. $150 later they were sitting in my garage. Essentially rust free, the hood had a few dings and the grille needed a bit of straightening and I stripped them to bare metal for a fresh start. I won't go into details on all that so we can get right into the swap process. From start to finish the entire swap took about 10 hours and I'll describe it here with detail and pics.

First I removed the under hood light and wiring clip. Next I removed the hood and amazingly the torx screws were not seized at all. I kept the Wranger hinges on the body as it's less to have to paint. After that I separated the radiator from the grille (mine was dropped to accommodate the body lift using small brackets). I kept the shroud attached to the radiator and didn't even drain the fluid. There's enough room to lay it out of the way and still not hit the fan. Also the power steering reservoir was unbolted and set aside being careful not to twist the hoses. The body bolt on the bottom of the grille must be removed as does all the grille to fender bolts. These all came of fairly easily. The brackets on the underside of the fenders were loosened and swung out of the way.

The lights were disconnected, including the side markers and the entire harness was fished out from the holes in the grille after carefully undoing the clips that hold the harness in place. There are a couple of ground wires attached to the grille that needed to be disconnected as well. I also disconnected and removed the air intake just to make some room to work. The grille was easily lifted out and away from the Jeep.

Fitting the CJ hood was easy with just one person, I put an old sheet over the fenders to prevent any scratches and had it aligned and bolted in place in just a few minutes. I did trim the lips on the top front of the fenders to prevent rubbing.

Fitting the grille was where all the time consuming work came in. Even with a 2" body lift I used a cutting wheel on my angle grinder to notch the CJ grille to clear the hard lines on the steering box. I also had to grind off two mounts that were welded to the frame under the Wrangler grille as part of the body lift. That took a little time as well.

Once the trimming was done on the bottom side the grille it was fitting in place perfectly using the rear set of holes on the Wrangler's fenders. The amount the fenders are drawn in to fit to the slightly skinnier CJ grille is almost negligible and again was easily accomplished with one person. It seems like the grille does sit a little farther back from the hood than an actual CJ, but the latch and catch do line up perfectly.

Next I used 1/8" thick steel strips 1" wide cut to appropriate lengths to attach the radiator to the CJ grille. Having left the shroud attached made it very easy to get it in the proper location. I used the rows of fins to line up with the grille lines to ensure it looked nice and neat. It does seem like it sits too far to the left but it lines up perfectly with the fan. I also cut about 2" from the upper hose on the radiator side as it was slightly kinked due the the CJ grille sitting 2" farther back than the Wrangler grille.

One thing I didn't expect nor did I read about was what to do about the power steering pump reservoir. There is no room to mount it in the original location because everything sits back farther and the air box is now in the way. There's not really another good place for it without switching to longer hoses so I notched the CJ grille so it tucks inside the grille slightly and still (barely) leaved access to check the fluid level.

I used a 1/4" steel plate to extend the mounting plate under the grille and used a 3/4 body grommet and washers I had from my CJ7 teardown. Everything it tight and secure. I still have to add the support rods but as mentioned in other posted they are not threaded far back enough so a little time with a pipe threading die might be in order.

The wiring harness is fished back in using factory holes and as posted elsewhere the headlights use the same connectors. As for the turn signal/running lights, simply ignore the black (ground) wire as the lamps now get grounded from the grille itself once the two separate ground wires from the harness are reattached to the new grille. On the right side, connect the green wire to the yellow wire on the fixture and on the left side connect the brown wire to the yellow wire on the harness. That will give you the correct wiring. You can clip off the Wrangler sockets and crimp on spade connectors and they'll fit right into the CJ fixture connectors.

New holes must be drilled for the hood bumps on the top of the fenders and also holes must be drilled to mount the hood catches, although you can use one of the existing holes from the bumper. That way they line up perfectly. Be careful where you decide to put the bumps as there are ridges on the underside of the fenders you'll want to avoid. I have an extra hole to patch because of this.

That's really about it. I spray bombed the grille with color and two-part epoxy clear mainly because I wanted the inside of the grille to be painted the correct matching color. I still have to patch the holes in the fenders and once that is done I'll rattle can the color on them as well as the hood but I will have it all shot with clear using the proper method.

As for why do all this? I'm not a huge fan of the square lights but I don't mind them. They reigned supreme for 8 years and are just as distinctive as any Jeep front end. But I love looking out over a CJ hood and now I have something a little close to a CJ to drive daily as I slowly restore a 1985 CJ7 Laredo.



captainauti 06-23-2013 07:28 PM

nice job, i love my cj conversion too.

skyj 06-23-2013 07:59 PM


Originally Posted by captainauti (Post 15598798)
nice job, i love my cj conversion too.

I love mine too.

ldso 07-03-2013 11:11 AM

Mine is ongoing, but I ran with the round headlights and never looked back :)

GFox 07-17-2013 10:15 AM

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Last weekend I got together with a couple of friends and painted the hood and grille. None of us had ever sprayed before, but it was a great experience. It came out pretty well. There is some orange peel so I'll be wetsanding and polishing this weekend. I'm afraid it's gonna end up being nicer than the rest of the jeep and I'll end up wetsanding and polishing the whole thing! I'll post final pics one everything is polished and put back together.

XJ93 07-17-2013 01:35 PM

Looks pretty darn good from here, great job. I would love to do this to a guy local who's willing to do some swapping with me for the parts.

plym49 07-17-2013 04:03 PM

I was under the impression that the front curve of the YJ fenders did not match the shape of the sides of the CJ grille, so you end up with a gap.

Is this not the case? Or if so, how did you handle that?

Could you post a picture of this area dead on from the front?

BTW, nice Jeep!

skyj 07-17-2013 04:38 PM


Originally Posted by plym49 (Post 15688413)
I was under the impression that the front curve of the YJ fenders did not match the shape of the sides of the CJ grille, so you end up with a gap.

Is this not the case? Or if so, how did you handle that?

Could you post a picture of this area dead on from the front?

BTW, nice Jeep!

There is enough give in the sheetmetal fender that you can suck them in when you tighten down the fender bolt, a least that was rhe case with mine.

plym49 07-17-2013 07:33 PM


Originally Posted by skyj (Post 15688536)
There is enough give in the sheetmetal fender that you can suck them in when you tighten down the fender bolt, a least that was rhe case with mine.

OK, but would that not draw down the outer edges of the fenders, so that they both dip down across the top rather than sitting flat?

GFox 07-18-2013 12:09 PM

Like skyj said, there is a very slight gap but they do draw in a bit when you tighten the fender to grille bolts but it's slight. Once bolted in place it really looks like it was meant to be and no gap. I'll post a front on pic once I get everything polished in a day or two. My right fender seems to sit a bit lower so my grille is not perfectly level. I hope to tweek that by loosening/tightening those bolts and also the brackets under the fenders. Right now it's driving me more crazy.

Firefyter-Emt 07-18-2013 04:58 PM

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Did you leave the holes in the fenders at the old grille area and the hood catch? I may go back to my CJ nose that is on my 91, but I did the fender and flare swap on that one, but want to retain the YJ flares this time. My thought was to cut the length out back at the tub end of the fender and trim the flare down at the tub end of the flare. This would retain all the YJ flares, but sit back as the CJ fender would. I am glad you did it this way, I was curious how the CJ curves would look with the square YJ fenders. Not bad at all I think!

PS... I would love to see it with one of the flares on the fender too! My other thought was to run the YJ fenders and flares, but cut out the front curves from the CJ and graft them to the fenders to retain the proper fit of the YJ flare, but give me the big round curve of the CJ fender that really sets it off.

skyj 07-18-2013 05:04 PM

I dont have any close up ones of mine, I just cut mine flat and ran tj flares cut flat to fit.

GFox 07-18-2013 09:04 PM

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Skyj- That looks good! I'm switching to a hardtop this weekend. The hartop and steel doors just look more CJ like to me, plus it'll make life easier badging into the garage at work every morning and the drive-thrus when I have a window to roll down. :)

My decision to use the YJ fenders was twofold: Money and the fact that I have the factory steps on the body so there's not an easy way to tie in CJ or TJ flares. I pondered removing them and covering the holes with a diamond plate strip but that was more money! I did patch all the holes including the hood catch holes and the now exposed grille to fender holes. Also drilled new holes for the hood bumpers that mount on the fenders and even found a way to mount the YJ prop to the CJ grille. Of all the jeeps I've ones I can't believe I never did this swap until now!

GFox 07-18-2013 09:13 PM

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Here's a pic with the fender flares attached. Only 3 bolts in as I still need to remove them for wetsanding and buffing. It does take away from the CJ look a bit, but for me- driving down the road looking over that CJ hood is just enough to keep me motivated to finish my CJ restoration. Oh, I need to start that thread too!

Firefyter-Emt 07-18-2013 09:35 PM

95 Attachment(s)
Very nice! You just have to love that CJ hood line from behind the wheel though!

I hate to ask for more photos, but this is a color I have been planning on, and I have the same top in that color. I would love an outdoors photo that is clearer and a couple around the fender / grille area to get a really good idea how the look without the fenders shortened. Very intriguing!

Thank you!!!

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