General CJ-7 questions -
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-21-2008, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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1985 CJ7 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Montana
Posts: 4
General CJ-7 questions


I am new the forum.

WOW. What a huge amount of information! I have read the FAQ's and the Sticky's, but please don't hesitate to let me know if I pee in somebody's Wheaties!!! I know I like mine with milk.

I am in the market for a CJ-7 and am beginning my research to find the perfect one for me.

It appears as though there are many transmission/differential variations out there, both factory and aftermarket. If we look at just the factory variances, are all of the CJ-7's capable of tooling down the highway at 70 mph+ as well as taking on the back trails too? 3spd, 4spd, 5spd, Dana this, Chrysler that, AMC whatever?

Do the hardtops (factory or otherwise) perform/seal well enough to get through a snowy winter in Montana?

More questions soon, I'm sure!

Thanks in advance for your time...


Lew Bonitz
Grizzly Custom Guns, LLC

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post #2 of 9 Old 10-21-2008, 06:57 PM
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1979 CJ7 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Alpine, Tx.
Posts: 3,195
You can get a divider curtain to isolate the front seats from the rear, so this will keep the cab warmer.

79 CJ7 "CJ Express" 4.2L, NV4500, D44 rear
69 800 with SBC, SM465, NP205, 14BT
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-21-2008, 07:04 PM
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1985 CJ7 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 159
First off welcome to JF
Secondly you can build a 7 any way you want with what ever drive train u want...stock for stock a CJ7 is not going to be a great highway vehicle...its just the way it is...personally id stick with a 4 or 5spd tranny because its going to give u all around (highway and offroad). U want the dana 300 transfer case it is the best out there anyone on here will agree...hard tops will seal if you use the correct doors with them...
Im rebuilding my 7 now from the ground up so ive been posting pics on photobucket
As for buying one look for the big solids frame tub drive train...dont get caught up on the little things like color, hardtop/soft top, interior or chromed out extras....
good luck and again welcome to Jeep Forum...these guys know everything...i really respect all of them for their JEEP KNOWLEDGE

Good Luck
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-21-2008, 07:07 PM
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2006 TJ Wrangler 
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Location: Greenville
Posts: 363
welcome to the forum! i can't speak for all CJ7's and all owners, but i'll tell you a little about mine and what i like, don't like. i've got myself a 79 with a 258 inline 6, 3 speed transmission, Dana 20 transfer case, AMC 20 rear axle, Dana 30 front axle, 31 inch all terrain tires, and a 2.5 inch lift. the AMC 20 rear axle i believe was stock in all CJ7's except for a few 86 models because AMC was failing and ran out of their own axles. the Dana 20 transfer case was used up until 79 and was replaced in 80 with the Dana 300. the Dana 300 has a lower gear ratio in 4L i believe.

the 258 is a good motor, but it is not a motor anyone would drag race with. i drive my jeep to school/work whenever its nice (i don't have a top or doors) and it keeps up with traffic fine. the tons of low end torque helps out with this too. i've even had it up to about 75 on the highway.

being mostly stock i only do light wheeling with mine so far. the AMC 20 has 2 piece axle shafts that aren't that strong and can break when running big tires or with a big engine.

also when looking for a jeep be sure to look for rust on the frame or body. if it has diamond plate rear corners or rocker panels, it would be good to make sure they aren't covering up big rust holes.

'06 Wrangler SE, soft top, hard doors, 2.4L, rolling completely stock and unmodified for the short term...
'10 Wrangler Sport, soft top, hard doors, 23S package, Teraflex 2.5" spring lift, Spidertrax 1.5" wheel spacers. Sold.
'79 CJ-7 Renegade, 258 I6, T150, D20, D30/AMC20, 2.5in Rancho lift, 31x10.5 AT's, TeamRush upgrade, flush tail lights - Sold :'(
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-22-2008, 07:32 AM
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1981 CJ7 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Montana
Posts: 286
Hey Lew,

Welcome to the forums!

I see by your phone number you're in CFalls----I'm in Kalispell!

My CJ-7 Hardtop seals up just fine for our winters. My heater works good too, but there are a couple of upgrades that can be done on the cheap to perform even better.

I can hit 70mph in my CJ (258 I6, T-5 trans), but with 33" tires and a 4" lift, it's a little sketchy.

Also, I'm part of a local OHV club that you should definitely look at joining. We have lots of great members with tons of wheelin' experience. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you have any more questions!


*'81.5 CJ7, D300, T-5, 258ci, 4" BDS lift, 33 's on 15x10 Bajas, Narrowed Waggy D44 Front, Scout D44 rear w/ARB locker, Not-so-Painless Wiring Harness, Warn 8274, Borla Headers, MC2100 carb, Shrockworks sliders, KC's, Full cage

*RIP: '88 Comanche Chief, stock except for KC lights on rollbar and custom stereo.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-22-2008, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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1985 CJ7 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Montana
Posts: 4

Thanks for all of the replies.


Lew Bonitz
Grizzly Custom Guns, LLC

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post #7 of 9 Old 10-22-2008, 05:01 PM
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1984 CJ7 
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Location: Monument Colorado
Posts: 5,840
You can use that gear ratio calculator I showed you on another thread. An AMC 258 wants to cruise at about 2500 rpm. I have 4.30 gears, a t5 5 speed and a dana 300. That lets me do 70 on the highway but it is a little fast down in 4w lo first. I plan to fix that with a 4:1 t-case kit. So plug in the transmissions and t-cases from whatever year jeep you look at to answer the question about speed vs final crawl ratio. Of course if you change engines then that changes the horsepower curve. You can get by with higher gears if you have a 350 V8 instead of an inline 6.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-22-2008, 09:10 PM
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1986 CJ7 
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Location: Burns, TN
Posts: 112

As a relatively new CJ7 myself, I think what you'll find is that any of the six or 8 cyl engines will be perfectly capable of pulling 70 mph, but you probably won't want to do it in a CJ. The larger problem is a combination of large tires, short wheelbase, and twitchy steering and you'll find yourself stopping frequently to wash your britches out in the creek if you get on the interstate. You will definitely want to get used to the short wheelbase before trying faster speeds - it makes the vehicle VERY responsive. You will also want to make sure that you have steering dampeners on your steering and that they are working to keep you from losing control when you hit potholes, bridges, etc. When we first got our CJ, it was kind of scary to drive, but with some simple improvements like good tires, steering dampeners, etc we are now able to drive at any reasonable speed with confidence. Besides, why would you want to take a fun drive without the top down the interstate?! Take the back roads, and enjoy the scenery! Have fun exploring.
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post #9 of 9 Old 10-22-2008, 10:06 PM
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1977 CJ7 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: New Paltz,NY
Posts: 2,121
Welcome to the forum. The later model CJ's (83-86) with the wide track axles will give you the best ride and the cream of the crop so to speak when it comes to options. Dana 300 tcase is best factory transfer case you'll find. The 258 I6 is a pretty good all around Jeep engine as well. As for tranny's about the only weak one is the T5. It's a light duty unit that many say can't hold up to offroading. Axles will be Dana 30 in front and Model 20 in the rear. Some 86's came with Dana 44 rears that are highly wanted. Most handle fairly well with stock size tires. Above 33"s and at high speeds you may want to slow down alittle. Your best bet is to decide what end of the pool you want to jump in. Are you looking for something rear stock to restore or to mod to the extreme. That's up to you, your mechanical skills and of course the money to do all this. Goodluck and again welcome.

Seems like everyday is a Monday.

77' CJ-7 83' Chevy K10
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