So, this will seem long, and maybe I'm over thinking this but just bear with me. I love CJ5/CJ6 style. I'm on a budget (not willing to borrow). I have no mechanical experience (some woodworking...very limited); but I really want to learn. My Grandpa always said, basically, just do it then.
Here's my considerations.
1. I'm military. I've moved 6 times in the last twelve years. I'll probably move 6 more. I need something easily towed (I figure most jeeps are, but maybe I'm mistaken).
2. Family. I've got two kids, couple of dogs, and of course, a wife. Kids are 8 and 12. Never been wheeling, but I'm from Missouri and love being out in the woods.
3. Pragmatic romantic. Basically, I love open tops (had a Camaro with T-tops in high school), but I love being able to go anywhere...I think Jeep is right up my alley. I know I have limits both financially and mechanically; both of which can be overcome with the right Jeep.
4. Not a daily driver, but will be used often. Wife's got an '03 Durango 4x4 with 132k and we love it. We'll drive it till it dies, revive it, and drive it some more. I have an '02 F150 4x4 with 80k. Both paid for.
5. Concerns. CJ5 will haul my family, but nothing more. CJ6 or CJ8 will do both, but seem to be expensive (I guess because of the rarity). LJ's are too new; I can't buy one outright. JK, same problem, and I'm not a huge fan. CJ7/YJ/TJ, same problem as CJ5 probably.
I'm also a pilot. When considering buying an airplane, the common recommendation is to buy for the 80% use (usually single pilot with 1 passenger) and rent for the 20% (family trips). Is that similar with regards to Jeep purchase? Or, is prevailing wisdom to buy for maximum functionality?
My initial preference is a CJ6. I'd love to have one with either Dauntless V6 or 4.2, disc brakes, a lift, and a winch. I almost bought a CJ5 here in NJ for $1250 that ran decent, not a looker, but no real problems. Ford blew a brake line, and ate up a good piece of my cash. I baulked. Not sure a CJ5 would have been a good start.
Should I buy cheap (like that CJ5, I wake up with disappointed I didn't get some mornings, and other mornings I'm glad the brake line blew) and see if I like it? Or will it nickel and dime the desire to have one right out of me? Or, should I buy one already restored/updated and just save until I can afford it? Or, should I stop being a slug and just go get a loan and get something nice and newer?
I get it, it's up to me. I'm just wondering if anyone else has asked these questions, and once answered, was the answer what you had hoped? What considerations am I missing? I'm not looking for hard core mudding or rock climbing, just want a solid trail runner that will tackle multiple trails from east to west coast. Thanks.
Over the past 20 years I have owned a CJ7, YJ, and three TJs. If you are dead set on a CJ I suggest finding one that is fuel injected and in 100% operating condition. My CJ7 was a money pit and it was only 10 years old. I do not think you would be pleased with a rig that needs work.
The other option, which I highly suggest, is to save money until you can afford an LJ. The LJ is larger than a TJ/YJ/CJ and is better equipped to comfortably transport your family.
Most CJ's are money pits as noted. All older vehicles of any make incur maintenance expenses that are far larger than newer models. The cheaper it is to buy, the more expensive it is to operate. I would not go any older than a fuel injected YJ, but imagine that you would have better luck searching for a perfect condition TJ. They are good units, ride well highway wise and are good in the woods as well as being noted as reliable.
That being said, NO TJ/YJ or especially CJ were meant to be family vehicles. There basic design excludes family travel. Yes I know you CAN travel with a family in one of them, but outside of say, weekend camping jaunts, I doubt that you would do it very often after the first time. The constant noise/vibration/rough ride will turn a trophy wife into a demon within 200 miles.
Buy your jeep as a weekend fun vehicle. That is your best expectation.
My thoughts are that if a CJ is really what you want then that's what I would get. Having owned one for the last 12-13 years there is no way I would trade it for a YJ/TJ/JK.
Good luck finding a decent CJ6 that didn't cost an arm and a leg.
If you decide on a CJ5, get a 76-83. Easier to find doors-tops, especially if you want to get a hard top/doors. The earlier 5s are slightly different. The tops and doors from 76-83 won't interchange with '75 and before.
You might consider the CJ7 instead, more options for tops and doors and you can also use YJ doors, hard top too.
As far as money pits...not mine. Just be patient and look for a good one. Don't just take the first (or cheapest) one you see. Get one in the.best possible shape your budget allows. Of course you can go cheap if you like turning a wrench, if you don't know how it's a very very simple vehicle to learn on.
I never load the family up in it but back in the 70s-early 80s my dad had a 5 and then a 7...these were our family vehicle, mom, dad, two boys...of course I don't remember going on any cross country road trips buy we got around fine in it.
Yep. Weekend driver or solo back and forth to work with just me. Not looking for a "family rig" per se. But, want the option to load up. We live about an hour from the beach right now, too. As far as value goes, I'll have to do some diggin' on the forum here and see what's reasonable. Ebay/Craigslist has got stuff from $1k-$20k and everything in between. If I had to worry about something, would it be rusted frame, rusted body, or run out engine? Seems like something totally done is up near 8-10K regardless of model. Stuff around 3-5k needs work. I'm not afraid of work, in fact, I want something to learn on that isn't one of our daily drivers.
I have to pick my poison here. I appreciate the input. I'm probably the sucker people see coming, so I just want to try and arm myself with your experience a bit before I jump in. Thanks again.
In my opinion, the frame would be my biggest thing. Followed by a rusty tub. I've never had to deal with a bad frame and I expect it would be a huge pain and time consuming. I would take a light hammer when I went to look at jeeps, tap the frame in any suspect places to make sure it's still solid. Engine swaps are pretty simple and don't take long, sometimes you can get a good used one cheap too. But having one rebuilt gets expensive.
I guess values vary by location. In my area CJ are pretty common and 4k would get a nice one that shouldn't have any major problems.
I would look for one with a good top and doors as well. They aren't cheap to replace, and any Jeep that has sat outside without one will probably have rust issues inside the tub.
scottg73. Saw your comments about tops and doors and year ranges. My thought is that I probably wouldn't do a hard top at all. And doors would be half doors at best. Would there be other reasons to stick to the newer model years in a CJ?
Fuel Injection? I get that fuel injection is more reliable. I've had Harley's with and without it. My old Camaro didn't have it. Everything else has. Is it due to reliability that you recommend fuel injection? I did some reading up on carbs and off-roading and understand there are some concerns about extreme angles with carbs. Just wondering if you had some specific reasons to focus on fuel injection that I'm not already tracking.
If some of this has been discussed, I'll go find it. I know it gets irritating answering noob questions where answers are readily available and covered. Sometimes search functions aren't all that easy...or maybe it's "operator head-space and timing"...
Well 76-up have a box frame, CJ5s from 75 and before have a C channel frame. Which is better? Depends who you ask...the box frame is stronger but has drain holes which can be plugged by mud allowing moisture to sit in the frame causing it to rust from the inside out. The C channel frame has more flex, some people like that, some people box theirs, some only box it in key areas like around the mounts. CJ7s first year was '76 so this only applies to the CJ5.
Ah. Thanks. That will help me on areas to check. For strength, at least for now, I wouldn't say frame is a big concern in either direction. I can't imagine I'll be doing any crazy ops with it, and don't figure I'll use it enough on the highway with the kids to really put "accident performance" near the top of my list of must-haves. Besides, I can't imagine any CJ being a strong performer in that arena anyway. If that ends up being a big concern, then I'll be in TJs anyway. If my wife ends up with a vote (it will be based on safety and an auto trans), I'll either be without one, or in a big new 4-door (which I'm really not interested in)...