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Unread 02-07-2010, 01:26 AM   #1
baja1ab
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1993 YJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
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CJ5 or CJ7? The hunt is on..Any tips?

Ok, so I realize that's a pretty basic and broad question, but here's what I'm looking to do. I currently have a '99 Grand Ch Limited 4.7L Quadradrive on OE JK Rubicon wheels and 32" BFG MTs. The wifey takes my daughter to preschool in it twice a week and cruises to the gr. store, etc. On the weekends we take the occasional trip to the San Bernardino mountains in So Cal (we live in a little foothill town right at the base - 40min or less to Big Bear).

Anyway, I'm looking to put the wife in a new truck and plan to ditch the Grand for an open top Jeep model; ie CJ5 or 7. First off, this will not be a daily driver = will be a third vehicle. I've found numerous b!tch!n rigs for sale at great prices and am wondering if you guys can give me any pointers, not just general looking for a used Jeep stuff (I get the whole "bring a magnet" thing and stuff like that). What I'm looking for is the bigger picture stuff like engine/ tranny/ transfer case combos to stay away from, model preferences, etc.

I am not looking to restore a Jeep to OE standards, but rather build a trail rig. Probably 37" tires, SOA susp, 6 point cage, flatty fenders, etc. My ideal scenario would be to find something that I can add the suspension, wheels/tires, lockers/gears, etc to and not have to do any major drivetrain improvements or swaps to.

So, if you can provide me with any insight before I make the initial investment I would greatly appreciate it!!!

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Unread 02-07-2010, 01:50 AM   #2
jeepsterdk
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First of all, do yourself a favor and go for a 83-86 CJ7. They are the latest of the 7's and they have widetrack axles. If you are lucky, you could find a 1986 CJ7 which came factory with D44 rear axle. Unfortunately, they didn't come with a V8, but that can be fixed

In my opinion, a Cj5 is just too short. You will really notice what big difference the 10" longer wheelbase in a Cj7 does. Both in handling and in leg room. I have had several 5's and 7's, but one thing is for sure. I will never buy a 5 again. The 7's share some components with the YJ, which are great when modifying the 7.

You will probably get a lot of answers and opinions on this subject, as it has been answered several times. Have you tried the search function? Good hunting
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Unread 02-07-2010, 07:17 AM   #3
SpecFX
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I just went through the same thing. I ended up going with an 85 CJ7 and I couldn't be happier.

I'm sure others can provide some more technical reasons but for me it came down to size and handling. I also bought mine as a third vehicle. I wouldn't necessarily say I'm turning it into a trail rig though. It will be a bit more of a mix than yours. (33x12.50, 2.5" OME lift, 1" body lift)

I know the 5s are great jeeps but the extra storage alone was enough to make me want a 7.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 07:25 AM   #4
BriansCJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepsterdk View Post
First of all, do yourself a favor and go for a 83-86 CJ7. They are the latest of the 7's and they have widetrack axles. If you are lucky, you could find a 1986 CJ7 which came factory with D44 rear axle. Unfortunately, they didn't come with a V8, but that can be fixed

In my opinion, a Cj5 is just too short. You will really notice what big difference the 10" longer wheelbase in a Cj7 does. Both in handling and in leg room. I have had several 5's and 7's, but one thing is for sure. I will never buy a 5 again. The 7's share some components with the YJ, which are great when modifying the 7.

You will probably get a lot of answers and opinions on this subject, as it has been answered several times. Have you tried the search function? Good hunting
I would do the opposite. I would look for a Pre 82 CJ7 with a V8. I think it would be easier to swap in a set of widetrac axles(direct bolt in) than an engine swap.

The Dana 20 and Dana 300(transfercases are comparable). In trannys, I would look for one with a T-18(4 speed w? a granny low) but a t-150(3 speed, same as the t18 but w/o the granny low) is fine. You could always swap in a t-18 at a later time. Ive

I do agree that a CJ5 is too short for a long term trip(2 or more days) unless you custom fab racks to hold your gear and dont run a back seat.

Plan on having to do some work, ie rewiring, suspension, and tires, depending if the PO liked you or not.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 07:34 AM   #5
nshefbuch
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i have one of both actually. i first purchased a 62 cj5 about 10 years ago and loved every minute of it. however it has no power steering, original 4-cylinder engine, 5.38 gears and tops out a 55 mph with no overdrive.



my new purchase is an 82 cj7 w/ amc360 already installed but knocking motor. needed lots of body work but all easy area's to repair comparitively. also has t18a tranny and original d300. just rebuilt the motor about 3 months ago. i purchased the jeep extremely cheap as the guy wanted it sold and had no offers except mine.



now that i have two i REALLY recommend getting a cj7 and especially with a v8. from the look of it a amcv8 swap wouldn't be very hard.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 08:09 AM   #6
Cutlass327
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If family is involved, definitely the WT '7s. Widetrack for the stability, and the '7 for the room. My back seat is kinda cramped even for someone 5'4. I'm 6'1 and I only fit in the center, legs up by the shifter..
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Unread 02-07-2010, 08:29 AM   #7
Happy Joe
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With 37" tires you need to get a minimum of D44 axles (and need to drive very carefully to make them last), the stock D30 and a 2 piece AMC 20 should not be expected to last with 37s (or anything above 33s, for that matter, I have seen both fail with 32s).
make certain that it is geared to the tire size (both axles the same); with a manual tranny;
33s= 4.10 to 4.56s
35/36s=4.56 to 4.88
37s and larger need 4.88s and larger
autos can use somewhat less gearing due to slippage in the torque converter.
Avoid sr4 transmissions.
If it has a carburettor and you are not a talented carburetor man expect issues and much frustration off road.
if it has a Holley avoid it.
If it has more than 5-6" of lift avoid it
if it does not have an anti-sway bar avoid it (you can add disconnects or remove it yourself but anti-sway bars have their place on and off road, IMO).
Look carefully at the steering linkages if any link has end play expect service/highway problems.
If the spring shackles are longer than 4 to 5" avoid it (they will need to be corrected)
if the tie rod and drag link are not straight, avoid it, Z or N shaped links are accidents waiting to happen...
if the tie rod and drag link are not parallel expect some amount of bump steer.
if the owner is proud of his 4" lift springs SOA run away...
If the front pinion is pointed up forget it
It the top ball joint is positioned forward of the lower ball joint forget it (if the steering does not self center on a test drive, it is an indicator of wrong caster).
If the frame has any rust holes run away screaming in panic
If the frame has cracks that have been welded up run away
If the engine and under dash wiring does not look OEM or professional avoid it.

BTW; I have had both wide track and narrow track jeeps on the same difficult trails and the wide track stability thing is vastly over rated, IMO.

Hope it helps!

Enjoy!
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Unread 02-07-2010, 09:25 AM   #8
LT1CJ7
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To the OP, You will never find a CJ exactly the way you want it.
If you find something close to your wish, And if it's done properly,
Your going to pay for it.

What kind of budget are you looking to spend ?

If you have the extra money to spend:
Look for a CJ7.
One with a V8 "Factory or Engine swap.
DON'T FORGET IT HAS TO BE SMOG LEGAL IN CA
One that has had the axles upgraded to 9", D44, D60, 14 bolt.
Stay away from the super 30's, Junk upgraded AMC 20's and the 8.8 abortions.
They are okay for the stock to lightly modified, But not worth the Money.
Make sure you get a trans that is able to hold up to the power, torque and abuse.
No SR4, T4, T5 transmissions. A t176 will not last long either.
Almost all properly built automatics will hold up fine.
SOA........ They are outstanding performers and flex great, But they must be done correctly.
99% of SOA's are NOT done right & Dangerous !
The steering must be a high clearance / cross over design.
There's no problem running 37"s SOA, But you might want to consider some 35's which can be run with a RE 4.5 kit, a 1"bl and 1/2" shackles. It's an excellent combo.

If your the money tight want to do it as cheap as you can type:
Look for a 1976 - 1979 CJ7 with a factory 304, T-18A, Dana 20 as a base for your search.
Upgraded axles and the 4.5 lift combo is the way to go.

There are many things to look for, pass on or think about for CA.
Is it smog legal ?
Is it rusted, or rust free ?
Frame cracks/repairs ?
A couple big things to think about.

Also, If you see multiple Mickey Mouse things within the first minuet of looking at a CJ,
Pass on it, Because everything else will be the same way.

While most of the posters on here do a good job answering somewhat correctly,
A lot of the others don't have a clue, and just give you a wealth of bad information.
And then you have a hand full of the pro's that will give you excellent and correct info.

Good luck with the search
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Unread 02-07-2010, 09:28 AM   #9
HackFabrication
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to the last couple of replies.

Except with the 37" tires, I'd go directly to a full width Dana 60/60 combo. Because if you're thinking 37, you'll be going 39's. If you're going 'hardcore' (and everyone has an opinion on what hardcore is), then you'll want to ditch the leafs and fab up a custom 4 link.

However, I don't see the need for tires larger than 35" on a basic trail CJ. Hell, a stock CJ with 31's or 32's will go a lot of places that other rigs can't. Look for an 82-86 CJ7 or CJ8 with the 258/T176 (or auto) combo. Swap out the 2 piece axles, add a locker or two, spend the rest on a winch and roll cage. Go out wheelin'. I know a local CJ guy, who's taken his CJ7, EFI'd 258, T5 combo to Rubicon, Moab, and other places without issues. Don't get sucked into the 'build it bigger' abyss.

Here's a thought (one I've posted before): If you're looking for a decent rig (one that you can readily modify), forget the CJ and locate a nice used TJ Rubicon. The aftermarket for TJ's is where the CJ's was fifteen years ago. The CJ 'aftermarket' has sort of dried up and gone full circle, back to the realm of 'owner fabrication'.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 09:47 AM   #10
alex211
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I really like my CJ5, but if I were to buy another jeep it would be a CJ7.

However the V6 and 3:73 gears in my jeep should let it cruise down the road nicely.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 02:18 PM   #11
baja1ab
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Thank you all for the very helpful information, insight and experience. I posted a similar query over in the WJ/ZJ section prior to purchasing the Grand Cherokee I have now and received the same helpful tips which aided me in my previous purchase.

The WJ has been the perfect rig for what I needed it for but now two things have changed; 1. I have been increasingly tackling more and more difficult trails and obstacles in the WJ and am at point where I have been compromising the dual purpose aspect of the rig. 2. I will no longer need it as a daily driver, but have reservations with spending a ton of dough on it to take it to the next level. At the end of the day, it's not really what I want to end up with. (don't tell the guys over in the GC forum )

I'm drawn to the CJ's for a couple of reasons. First, as with most other older vehicles, is their simplicity. No fancy heated seats, climate control, ABS and what not. Just a frame, tub, two axles and drivetrain. Altough I'm sure I'll hit the same basic trails with the fam and the 37's will be overkill on those days, I have two groups of friends that frequent the more difficult "black diamond" trails in Big Bear, Calico and beyond. Up until about a 1 1/2-2 years ago I worked in the truck and 4wd aftermarket industry for over 12 years so I have all understandings of the correct hardware (ie gear ratios to tire size, heavy duty steering, etc.), I'm mechanically inclined and have kept in touch with many of my previous contacts for parts and other help. (Oh, and Poison Spyder is about 10 minutes from my house ).

Anyway, I hope to find something with the core components and maybe even a basic SOA lift and decent axles to start. I know I'll never find the perfect rig unless I have an unlimited budget , but I'm searching for something in the $5-8k range and have found quite a few candidates. The responses received in this thread are exactly what I'm looking for; advise from actual owners of both 5's and 7's that can give me real world direction.

If anyone else has anything to add please feel free to chime in! Thanks to all.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 05:42 PM   #12
JeepHammer
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If the wife drives it, DO NOT BUY A CJ!
They steer like crap, the drive like crap, the suspension is crappy, they need CONSTANT work...
(Sounds like I'm trying to talk myself out of CJs!)

Get her a TJ or JK, something that has fuel injection, starts every time you turn the key, has long arm/coil spring suspension, ect.
Something you can still get parts for without pulling your own teeth!

The longer/wider the wheel base, the better off you will be.
MUCH more stable than short/narrow CJ's are!
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Unread 02-07-2010, 09:23 PM   #13
baja1ab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
If the wife drives it, DO NOT BUY A CJ!
They steer like crap, the drive like crap, the suspension is crappy, they need CONSTANT work...
(Sounds like I'm trying to talk myself out of CJs!)

Get her a TJ or JK, something that has fuel injection, starts every time you turn the key, has long arm/coil spring suspension, ect.
Something you can still get parts for without pulling your own teeth!

The longer/wider the wheel base, the better off you will be.
MUCH more stable than short/narrow CJ's are!
She's not driving it.
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Unread 02-07-2010, 09:29 PM   #14
Military Jeeper
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Go with a CJ8......hard to find a good one, but if I could do it all over again, that's what I would buy.
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