Jeep noob looking for advice -
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-15-2013, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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1983 CJ7 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Billings
Posts: 124
Jeep noob looking for advice

I am totally new to Jeeps. I've been poking around the forums for a few days looking for information on what to look for and stay away from in a CJ-7. Can you say "analysis paralysis"? I don't know what to think! Dana-this, locker-that.
Does anybody have any red flag items that should immediately scare me away from a purchase of a CJ-7? Frame rust is a biggie, obviously. But what else? I saw a thread on bad SOA and steering mods...yikes.
I'm mainly looking for something to get me up to the trailhead over pretty rough roads in the Montana and Wyoming mountains. There are a number of CJ-7s on CL in the area, anywhere from a rust bucket/project, to beautiful ones that I can't afford.
For instance, here's a listing that looks interesting: It's a little more than I want to pay, but if it's a solid unit, I'd be willing to stretch the budget a little.
I'm not planning on rock hopping, so this may be overkill. But I just have no idea what's a good price, and what's a bad price. Obviously, you guys can't tell from a few pictures, but I'm curious if you would even consider one like this at that asking price.
There are lots of 4-banger CJs and YJs around but I'd like to have a bigger motor, so the choices really narrow down. Would it be worth buying a stock 4-cyl CJ on the cheap, and then putting a bigger motor/lift/tires on it, or would it be cheaper in the long run to just go for one that's got the bigger motor and already had the work done?
Sorry for the long-winded first post!
Thanks for any advice...

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-16-2013, 11:23 AM
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2012 KK Liberty 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Tigard
Posts: 546
If you were to go the 4-banger-with-swap-plans route, you have the option to get a newer, more efficient design in a lighter package that will make more power and have better MPGs than something like an older 360, or even the smaller 304. Also, parts support for newer motors might be better, depending on your location.
That being said, buying a Jeep, then buying the engine and all the parts you'd need for the swap including transmission, t-case, adapters, rear axle, driveshaft, lift equipment, and possibly diff gears if you need to match the diffs after the engine swap will all end up being horrendously expensive, much more than just buying the CJ7 in your post and being done with it.
You could contact the seller and offer $6k cash, and see what he says. That one seems like a well-built rig, but it's hard to say without seeing it in person.

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post #3 of 4 Old 09-15-2013, 04:36 PM
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1979 CJ7 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Memphis
Posts: 46
If you buy an older Jeep, I would plan on having additional funds to repair hidden issues. The day I bought mine, it ran fine. Two months later, I ended up mechanically restoring it. No rust and such - I guess just driving something for the first time in a while. Needless to say, I have spent more than double what I spent for the Jeep itself. As I did not intend on having this, except for a weekend vehicle, I now have it for sale!

I agree that doing a proper engine / transmission / transfer case swap would be incredibly expensive.

My humble opinion is to decide what you are ultimately willing to pay for a Jeep, and then pick the best option from there. You may have better luck than me, but a $6,000 initial cost could add up QUICKLY...
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-19-2013, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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1983 CJ7 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Billings
Posts: 124
Thanks for the advice!
I looked at that '86 in person and passed on it. The running gear seemed in pretty good shape, although heavily modified, but the body was kind of rough. Lots of rusting spots, cracked paint and heavy scratches on first look. I didn't dig much deeper than the exterior. And, as suspected, way too much Jeep for what I was looking for. I see it still listed on CL as of this morning right at $6k.
Ended up finding a fairly decent condition '83 CJ7 with a 4.2, T-5 and stock running gear/suspension. Needs a little work, as expected, but was able to get it for a price that left me some funds for working on it. Very minor body rust, and the frame is solid. It spent its life in a fairly dry, no salt climate.
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