I own several CJs and a 03 TJ Rubicon. Been driving and working on Jeeps for more than 20 years. Hard facts: You get what you pay for. This crap that ALL old Jeeps (CJs) are suppose to have rust, drip oil, and drive horribly, etc, etc is either CJ owners justifing their basic lack of care or non CJ owners repeating what they see or read. Truth is if you over pay for a project that is missing half the parts, dump a ton of money into it and it still is junk in the end, don't complain that old Jeeps are rusted money pits. Is this one?.....don't know. While no rust is subjective upon inspection, the bigger picture needs to be viewed. Unlike TJs/LJs that are basically easy to compare in stock form, CJs can really vary over the years with wheelbase and track width changes, multiple engine and transmission combos (from 4/6/and V8 to 3/4/5 speeds and automatics), door and top combos (5 vs 7 doors and soft, half and full hardtops)......meaning, OK , you found this one, but is it what you want. I agree with don't jump into the first one you see. Research and testdrive to educate yourself.
Knowing what I know now, I would only recommend the 82 to 86 CJ-7s as someones first "CJ". Why? Most common for both choices and parts, latest and most refined, most options and upgrades that a lot of Wrangler people don't even realize CJs came with. For example, the later CJs have the same wheelbase as the TJ (94"s), could come with AC, cruise, sunroof, leather, automatic trans, power brakes/steering, full carpeting, tinted windows, etc, etc. Yes, lower production numbers and older age are against you finding a nice CJ compared to a "newer" Jeep, but they are out there. IF your going to own one, and would like things such as a hard top and real doors, why not have one the way you want AND will enjoy it best. I have a 75 CJ6 and with no top and short door openings, and a V8, it drives like a high speed farm tractor. Compared to my 86, with quite interior, hardtop, CD player, easy to drive,so on, I would never know the major difference between them unless I saw and drove both. So going from a TJ background to a bad example of an older CJ, can inadvertently leave you wondering if ALL CJs are like this, they aren't. Go and see it, drive it if you can, inspect it, BUT do yourself a favor and test drive a few more of them. Are they worth it? Absolutely. To have a classic CJ in top condition can be a joy to own and drive. My own Scrambler and even my 86 Laredo have been more reliable than other cars including a Toyota I had. They don't break down every weekend unless you abuse them or have a basket case to start with. But that's true with any older car. If you can do basic things like brakes, oil changes, swapping parts, etc, you can save a ton of cash and remove the financial pain of older Jeep care. You will get to a point where the parts are good and it's just an older "car" and runs and drives fine. Problem is most folks want to spend to least amount they can on an older Jeep, do only what is needed to make it go forward, push it past it;s limits and abuse it off road, and then complain when it breaks down or cost a ton to "fix". Because I didn't fall into that mode of thinking, I have had very good luck with CJs and they have been good to me. And even though I own a TJ, I would still rather drive my CJ and will always own at least one. Keep posting up your findings and remember that cheaper price isn't always the better deal.
1975 CJ-6 1983 CJ-8
1986 CJ-7 Laredo 1986 TJ-7 Trail Jeep
2003 Inca Gold TJ Rubicon