|Transfer Case:||Dana 20|
|Front Axle:||Dana 30|
|Rear Axle:||Dana 44|
|Axle Gear Ratio:||3.73|
|Suspension:||Stock leaf springs|
|Wheels:||aftermarket steel rims|
|Recovery Gear:||tow strap|
|Future Modifications:||full restoration one day|
History of my 1975 CJ-6
Between leaving the Toledo Ohio factory in 1975 and two years later, in 1977, the CJ-6 had something happen that resulted in it being titled as a rebuilt vehicle. What happened is unclear. What records show is that on March 10th of 1977, Paul’s Auto Sales on 1614 N. Wilson Ave in Prichard, AL 36610 sold the Jeep to the Utilities Board of the City of Chickasaw at the location of 224 North Craft Highway in Chickasaw, AL 36611. The odometer reading at the time was 57,049. Paul’s Auto Sales had the Jeep from November 22nd the year before. The title at the time shows that the Jeep was considered rebuilt. On August 19, 1977, the title was transferred to the Utilities Board. From that time on, the City of Chickasaw used the Jeep as a service vehicle that worked on manholes, drains, and whatever other chores were thrown at it.
The first time that I saw the Jeep was in late 1994. A friend of mine who lived in Chickasaw said that he kept seeing this odd Jeep in town as it pulled a utility trailer and made service stops. One night while driving back to his house, he said that the “long” Jeep was at the end of his street. He thought that it might be a CJ-8 and wanted me to take a look at it. I was very surprised to see that it was a CJ-6. I had seen only one before and it was several years earlier while in the Gulf Shores, AL area. At the time, I did not know what a CJ-6 really was, but this time, I did. By looking at this one, it was obvious that it had led a hard life. The paint was not original and very bad at that. Dents riddled the body and a crude plywood wall under a long bikini top was an attempt to keep out the rain. It was sad to observe a Jeep in such condition, but at the same time, I was glad to see that it was still on the road and was being used.
Several months went by without any further sightings of the Jeep. My friend went by the city’s maintenance bay and found that the poor Jeep had seen its last day of service for the city. New information revealed that the front axle broke some time ago and when the rear axle broke, the repair cost for the two axles exceeded the value of the current condition. My friend went to the mayor’s office and inquired on purchasing the Jeep. A month later, he had won it through a sealed auction with the highest bid of $600. It was towed to his house where the “before” pictures were taken. These pictures included shots of the front axle shafts lying in the bed, the spit cup that was upside down on the gearshift and the rusted out floor pan on the passenger side. The overall condition of the Jeep was debatable, with such items missing as the spare tire carrier, fender flares, and various small items about the dash. The hood was found to be a fiberglass piece and both the bumper and driver side fender was dented in. A gas tank from a boat was in the “bed” section as the original one was missing for some reason. All the drive components were leaking, but present. The engine started right up, but only contained the bare minimum of wires and vacuum lines to make it keep running. My friend removed the wooden cab section, started to disassemble the interior, and bag various parts for the work ahead. All in all, it was salvageable with the right amount of care and time
It was determined that the Jeep had a lot of costly work ahead of it and it would not make a good daily driver. My friend needed a better mode of transportation and didn’t have the time to commit to such a project. He did like a rifle that I had recently purchased, so in the end a deal was worked out where we traded a Maddi AK-47 in great shape and no paper trail, for the Jeep. The trade was of equal value if he would have the rear axle fixed so it could at least be driven. The rear axle was removed and brought to Steve’s Off-Road in Mobile, AL. A new axle shaft, carrier, bearings, and seals were ordered and installed into the housing. It was then re-installed under the Jeep. Pictures were also taken of this procedure. I did not want to drive this Jeep down the interstate in its current state, so I called AAA auto service and told them to bring a flat bed tow truck. We pushed the Jeep to the street and after my 7 miles free and 35 cents thereafter, the towing bill was a whopping $2.67.
Once it was at my house, I removed the differential cover from the front axle to see what was broken. Upon removal, several of the ring’s teeth fell out along with a thick slug. The Jeep sat in my parent’s backyard while I was living at a rental house on the other side of town. I toyed around with it from time to time, but really didn’t have the time and funds to do much with it. One of my roommates was in desperate need of transportation after he wrecked his Grand Wagoneer. He had his eye on the Jeep for some time and offered to buy it from me. I really needed the money and I wasn’t using it so I agreed with one condition. If he were to sell it in the future, I would have the first chance to buy it back. . I figured that I would repurchase it from him when the right time came. He would need the money for another car and I would get the Jeep back. In the meantime, I was helping him out with cheap transportation. This seemed fare and I even let him pay me the thousand dollars over an 8-week time frame. During the next week, he and I replaced the dangerously worn spring shackles, brake pads all around and put in a new manual steering box from Auto Zone. Seat belts and a rear view mirror out of another friend’s dead K car, and new rear taillights from Car Quest made the Jeep legal for the street. As he drove off, I stressed the fact that the engine needed a tune up and the oil should have been changed last year. He drove it to and from work every day for the seven or so months with no service being done except for a brake cylinder change and a points adjustment done by his dad when it wouldn’t start one morning. Image was high on this guy’s priority list, so the Jeep was “treated” to a brushed on latex green paint job and $75 worth of Radio Shack stereo junk for his Jimmy Buffet tapes to be played on. He relocated the spare tire to the rear with two long bolts even though he never purchased a jack. He said that it “looked better” on the rear. A bottle opener for his numerous Corona beers topped off the rear bumper. He was a happy camper until the harshness of winter with a bikini top Jeep took its toll.
One night while at the rental house, I was approached by my roommate and told that he had a lead on a car and if I wanted to buy the Jeep back, he needed the money in 2 days. Wow! And I gave him two months to pay me! He continued on about a customer from his work that wanted to buy it if “I didn’t want it.” I wanted it all right, but as you might have guessed, I couldn’t come up with the cash in such a short timeframe. Although he had the Jeep in his procession for quite a while, he was just the middleman because he never had the title transferred into his name. A few days later, the kid came over to pick up the title from me, and that’s when feelings of frustration and angry really hit home. When one friend sold the Jeep to me, and then from me to another friend, it was done each time with the understanding that this Jeep was rare and should be kept in our close circle of friends so that we all could enjoy it. Now it was gone from the circle. I watched my Jeep leave the driveway with a stranger behind the wheel. Sure it was a big, ugly beast that was outdated, but it was rare, fun, and had a good future with me. The mistake was that I should have just lent him the Jeep, but I needed the money, and what if he wrecked it? I justified the empty feeling that I had with the thoughts that I would one day find another CJ-6 that was in better condition. I vowed to own one again some day.
Years went on and I only found one other one that was local. It wasn’t my old one, but rather a short nose version made by Kaiser. It had a 4 cylinder, was in very rough shape and the owner wanted $2500 too much for it. The full metal top was appealing, but I liked my old AMC version better as it had a longer front clip than the pre 72 models. After some time, it too sold and disappeared from the area. From time to time, I would see a CJ-6 in the off-road magazines and the writer would go off about how rare they were or how they don’t see them often. Of course, none of this helped my current mental situation.
On most Sunday mornings, I go through the classifieds to appease my curiosity of what is currently available. On the morning of Thursday xxxxxxx, I broke from the Sunday norm and my luck changed. An ad for a $2000 1975 CJ-6 appeared before me. I thought that it could be a miss print, as I had never seen an ad for a local CJ-6 in the paper before. They might have meant CJ-5 as the two keys are close together on the keypad. No, because of the year, I knew that this was my old Jeep and I quickly called the number. As I left a message, I wondered if it was already sold. My call was returned that evening when the seller returned from work. I purposely disclosed the fact that I may have owned it before. In the end, I wanted a good deal and did not want him to have the upper hand by me sounding excited or desperate for the sale. He said that I was the first one on his answering machine and he was calling back in the order in which they were received. I convinced him that I was very interested and could be there to view it the next day. He agreed to let me see it first before he called the 4 other responses. I couldn’t wait over night so I crossed reference the number to an address. I drove by that evening, but could only see the rear of it due to it was parked way back by the side of the house. It looked different even in the dark. The color was changed, but I knew that it was my old Jeep. I returned he next day, and when I saw it again, I knew why it looked different. It was painted in Desert Storm style camouflage. What’s sad is that from a distance, it didn’t look that bad. When he opened his front door, he recognized me and said something to the effect of, “You’re the one that I bought it from?” I said yes and explained that I just couldn’t afford it a few years back. He went on to explain that he needed the money to pay for his fiancée’s engagement ring and the Jeep would have to go. I asked about what he did to / with it and I learned that he and his father put some time and money into repairs. The complete front axle was rebuilt with a new ring and pinion. A correct style gas tank was put back in and an after market style roll bar was added to the top of the rear fenders, all from Steve’s Off-Road. Apparently, after he purchased the Jeep from my roommate, he had the above work done and drove it to their hunting camp some few hundred miles away. There it sat unused until he it was returned to town on their trailer. He guessed that he had not put more than 500 miles on it since he owned it. I crawled under and through it only to find that it had remained unchanged other than the paint. The windshield was cracked up as if a limb hit it, but at this point, the glass is easily replaced. I noticed that one of the front leaf springs was new. When at the camp, his mother drove it into a stump and bent it, resulting in the new one. With one new and one old spring, I noticed a huge amount of uneven body roll during the test drive throughout his neighborhood. I was not expecting him to accept my offer of $1500, but he did because that was the amount that he owed for the ring. In short, for the $500 difference from when I sold it, it now has a completely rebuilt front axle, gas tank, roll bar, and a nifty paint job to top it off. I figured the front axle and all its parts and labor was at least $800. A good friend of mine was kind enough to lend the cash to me, so that I would not miss this opportunity for a second time. We shook hands and I returned the next day to pay for it and get the paperwork. He told me that it was good that I was the first caller for he had 3 more calls after he spoke with me the first night, 7 calls the day I saw it, and 5 calls before I picked it up. What is so ironic about this is that he placed the ad on Wednesday to be run for one week starting on Sunday. The paper messed up and ran it starting the next day, Thursday. Was it mere chance that I saw it when I did?
I didn’t want to bring the Jeep back to my parent’s house until I gentle broke the news to them that the ugly beast was back. I drove it to the friend’s house that donated the seat belts years earlier. While in route, I had kids and adults alike pointing and staring as I drove by. One child was jumping up and down at the site of it. It was like a regular circus on wheels. It stayed parked on the street at his house for a week or so, until I made room in the backyard. Not too long after owning it the second time, it appeared in the local Veteran’s Day parade. The year before, I had donated the use of my 1986 Jeep for my father and some of his American Legion members to make a showing in the parade. They liked it so much, that this year, they wanted to use a Jeep again. I figured; why not use a rare Model that is already painted with a desert camouflage scheme. One of the windshield hinges was broken at the base, so I folded the windshield forward and off as to leave it at home. As luck would have it, a police officer noticed the missing windshield on the way to the parade. Seeing as my father and I were dressed in coats and ties, he figured we were on the way to the parade. He let us go with the advice of putting the windshield back on. I had drawn up a fake bill of sale just in case of such an event, as I hadn’t transferred the Jeep into my name yet.
It made a fine showing in the parade and ran great. I found that using a combination of low range and 1st gear, the correct parade speed could be used with out the constant need for the clutch. The Jeep was used again the next year, but this time with an olive drab color added to the body and rims. I had the broken windshield hinge welded prior to the parade. The neatest thing about driving this Jeep in a parade is that one thing never fails; someone will always ask or comment about the Jeep. “What year is that?” or “Hey, that’s a CJ-6.” As I write this now, I have been gathering parts to rebuild the 6 back to its more glorious days. I will keep the basic look though, as that is what makes this Jeep so unique. Also unique, is that fact that against all the odds, I now have this Jeep again and NO, it’s not for sale this time. As they once said, “Only in a Jeep.”
Update1: The CJ-6 sat in the yard for some time and developed issues with its idle and timing due to my lack of dealing with the points distributor. The drive train was pulled to access the engine. Obtained from it was the crank for its 12 counter weight design and the rods for their 707 casting, both to be used in a 1994 4.0 stroker build that will go in the 86 Laredo at the 200K mile mark. The transmission had some condensation rust in it, and the engine had excessive ring wear at the top of the bores so I didn’t feel bad about the decision. The long bikini top on it didn’t cover the sides or very back and later became rotten. It was thrown away and an old garage door was bolted together to make a lean-to roof for it against the back wall of the garage/house. This was a great way (and cheap) to give it shelter from 90% of the rain we get in the South and keeps the falling leaves out of it.
Update2: While reading the online classifieds for a local Jeep club forum, I found a 75 CJ-5 for sale in Mississippi. For the 500 bucks it was listed for, I was mainly interested in the hood and engine….a 304 V8. So after some phone calls, a guy named Robert delivered it to my backyard for a total of 400 bucks….yes, 100 less. With the Jeep, came a box of new parts including a distributor, cap, rotor, wires, plugs, coil, He was unsure of the engines condition and said he never heard it run. I left it in the Jeep until I got it running incase it was no good. It started, but had bent exhaust pushrods and a worm out cam lobe….so new “torque” cam, pushrods, lifters, and timing chain later, it runs like a champ. Well, this champs smokes a bit on start up. In the end, the CJ-6 got a 304 V8 with the larger T15 transmission that goes with it. Also swapped over were the power steering set-up, non broken windshield glass/frame/dash, and various small parts such as gas tanks parts and such. Lacking though is a good exhaust for the engine.
Due to the motor swap in my 86 Laredo, the CJ-6 has become my daily driver… I also temporally swapped over the Laredo’s chrome rims and good tires as the others started to separate and bulge due to age and rot. ….hot or cold, rain or shine…..no top or doors, but lots of go power.
View Ken4444's Jeep
Fantastic story. Well written. Thanks for taking the time to document the whole story.
View austinaubinoe's Jeep
Just read your story, very interesting. Was looking at the CJ6 registry because I was looking at a 1974 6. BTW it it being sold by its original owner
only problem is that it is in upstate NY, dont know how bad the rust is yet, but in the pictures it looks solid.