Looking to buy a CJ7 - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Looking to buy a CJ7

Hey I'm new here and looking for insight on buying a CJ7. I have called and talked to a lot of people selling their Jeeps but I don't know what exactly to look for when I go start looking at some of them. I want around an 85 model for no other reason than that's when I was born, silly I know but that's what I'm looking for. Wouldn't be opposed to 83 thru 86 year models tho..

I will be primarily using the jeep to just ride the highways.. I have a 4 wheeler for mudding so I'm looking for something that will look good on the highway and get me where I'm wanting to go. Would like to get decent gas milage for this reason. So do I need the 4 banger or 6? I assume the 304's and such will guzzle gas? Dad has a 72 bronco will an 8 cylinder and you can't keep any gas in that tank.

From what I've read in other threads, rust is a big no-no when looking for a jeep so I know to look for that but are there any jeeps out that that old that have absolutely no rust? I have a buddy that can do body work and paint for me so should I just be concerned with rust being on the frame?

Like I said, I'm new to the forum and looking for jeeps and would really appreciate any help on picking out one to buy. Just want a solid jeep that will be dependable. Don't want to throw a whole lot of money at one either. 8 grand would probably be my top limit. Another reason for posting here is I don't want to spend 8K on a jeep that isn't worth that.

What kind of transmission too? I've seen that there a a few different ones out there.. Any to look for or stay away from?

Thanks in advance for any advice, and if I'm posting this thread in the wrong place please forgive me..

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post #2 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 03:08 PM
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welcome to the forum. you came to the right place. 8k will get you a very nice CJ
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 03:22 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

Try to find the least rusty vehicle you can, but if I had a choice I'd pick a little rust on the tub vs. rust on the frame. Tubs can be swapped pretty easily if you have to - earlier YJs make a good candidate.

Tranny depends on what you want to do. A T176 is one of the top choices for all around trannys, but you'll find a lot of daily drivers with either the T4 or T5. Stay away from the SR4 if you can.

When you do find a couple, post them up and everyone here will be happy to pick them apart.
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 06:14 PM
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Here's what you should be looking for:

- The T5 transmission. It has 5 speeds, 5th being overdrive. While this transmission isn't known to be a great off-road performer, it will work fine in general situations.

- There was no V8 offered in the later model CJs, so that's off the table unless you buy a CJ that's had one swapped in. When you're considering the inline 6 (258) or the 4 banger, know that the 258 is much, much more common. As far as fuel economy, I don't think the economy of the 4 cylinder is enough to justify the lack of power compared to the 258. Both are probably going to give you poor fuel economy. With the 258, you're looking at 13 MPG on a bad day and 18 on a good day. Some claims of 20+ MPG have been made using a well tuned carburetor and well-running engine, but that's not the norm.

- Rust is the main problem you'll encounter. On the frame, look for rust at the tail ends of the frames and where the body mounts attach to the frame. On the body, look for rust under the rollbar mounts, under/around the "Jeep" logo stamped into the sheetmetal, and on the drivers and passenger's floorboards. Pull up and carpet or floor mats to look for rust. Bring a screwdriver to probe any rusty areas to see if you can poke through the metal. If the frame has major rust problems, then move on. (edit: a CJ with diamond plate is likely to have rust problems that were covered up by the diamond plate. Be cautious of those!)

- For a lot of road driving, you want smaller tires. This will get better MPG. What is small? Anything 31" or smaller is fine. If you can find a CJ with 235-75-R15 tires, even better.

- Other items that hurt MPG are added weight (from a winch, large bumpers, or a hard top) and a suspension or body lift.

- When you're looking at a CJ, check/test all of the electrical things you can find: ALL of the lights, dash lights, ALL gauges, turn signals, hazard, wipers, radio, high/low beams, blower motor for the heater, etc. These things are all known to be problematic for many old CJs.

- If you find a CJ you like, take several clear and detailed photos and post them here so we can see them. We can give you a lot of feedback about potential problems or other good/bad things we see. Get photos of the engine compartment, carburetor, dash, under the dash, suspension, axles, frame, and any rust you can find. You won't be able to post photos here on the forum for a while, so you might get an account at photobucket, post your pics there, and then link to them when you post here.

Good luck!!

"I give you a republic, if you can keep it." - Benjamin Franklin
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys.. Here's one Jeep that I would like opinions on. Don't have pics but does this sound like what I should be looking for? To me it sounds like this guys has done alot of work to it that i wouldn't have to do.

Runs and drives nice. Doesn't smoke.
JEEP 1983 CJ7 4x4, 4 speed T176, manual transmission, (the good one), 258ci, 4.2L engine with dual exaust and split headers. Holley 390 4bl carb., Aluminum valve cover with new gasket.
Gets 18-20 mpg on HWY. All gages work.
New timing chain and gears. Odometer shows 156,900 miles.
New oil pump with new one piece oil pan gasket. New rear main seal. New mechanical oil gage. New motor mounts.
Fresh rebuilt T176 4 speed transmission, less than 100 miles on it. New clutch, plus new linkages. New seals and gaskets on the Dana 300 transfer case.
Rebuilt drive shafts with new u-joints. This Jeep "had" a T5 in it when I purchased it.
Body is nice, paint is good. Has the usuall 2 small rust spots on the lower kick pannel but doesn't stand out.
Underside has been mostly painted, without removing the body.
Paint is good. Shines nice with wax.
Black interior, seats are fair.
Low millage on Cooper SST tires 31x10.50x15, fair chrome wheels, a little rust, where previous owner left mud on them. Has a used spare tire with cover.
New leaf springs up front. New Energy Suspension bushings. New shocks.
Manual steering is good with new Borgeson steering shaft. Manual brakes are good.
New bearings, ball joints, tie rods and ends. New rear yoke.
Ford distributor upgrade and ECM bypass. New high quality spark plug wires, new coil.
New tail light covers. New front and side turn signals.
Sony Marine AM/FM CD player.
Body to frame bushings are good, no need to replace them.

That's the description I've got, guy is super nice to talk to and has a few pics of the exterior but is supposed to get me some more. Any guess at what a fair price would be?
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 08:06 PM
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seems like a good amount of work into it, pending the condition of the body and frame, 3-4k? just a shot in the dark here
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeep_Wanted View Post
.. Has the usuall 2 small rust spots on the lower kick panel..
That's a warning sign. Just because this is "usual" doesn't mean it's good. It's a sign that you need to inspect real carefully for body rust elsewhere. The fact that it has a black interior may mean that it's been painted to hide rust.

Originally Posted by Jeep_Wanted View Post
.. Any guess at what a fair price would be?
Well, there is no mention on the condition of the frame, so that's not good.

The description does mention a number of repairs and upgrades that are good. The devil is in the details though. You need to inspect it carefully. If it's generally in great shape, I could see it selling in the ballpark $7000 in Texas.

"I give you a republic, if you can keep it." - Benjamin Franklin
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post #8 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Much higher.. That's what I'm struggling with determining on all these jeeps I'm looking at: what a jeep is worth. I'm reading all this stuff that he's done to it but don't know if his 8K price tag is even close to what it's worth? Judging by your guess he's way off? But some of that price is probably sentimental value right?

Then alot of jeeps i have found all the owners can tell me is V6 engnine, dont know what tranny it has, don't know what transfer case it has, can't tell me anything about the front and rear axels either.. Bad thing is, once I go look at one, I'm not sure I know exactly what to look for to correctly identify all of the above.
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post #9 of 19 Old 02-25-2012, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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I made that last post before I read yours Ken.. He's asking 8K for it.
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post #10 of 19 Old 02-26-2012, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeep_Wanted View Post
...I'm reading all this stuff that he's done to it but don't know if his 8K price tag is even close to what it's worth?
One thing you see with old Jeeps (and probably any kind of old vehicle) is that the seller wants to get back most or all of the money they're put into the the vehicle. This is most obvious when you see some chrome-laden CJ selling for $35,000. But the same factor comes into play with a more modest rig in a lower price range. Anyhow, you may never know, on a particular CJ, why the seller is asking a certain price.

The $35,000 Jeeps are laughable because anyone who has bought and sold restored or custom vehicles knows that you generally do not get back the money you spent on such a vehicle.

For an $8,000 CJ, the issue may be more cloudy, especially if the owner spent money on not chrome and big tires, but on real repairs like the RMS, engine rebuild, etc. However even here I would say that it's not realistic for a seller to get back 100% of the money they put into the thing.

Also keep in mind they CJ pricing varries greatly by reigon. CJs sell for more in Texas. CJs are cheap in Colorado because there are so many there. A CJ that spent its whole life in Arizona and has no rust and low miles could sell for $15,000 or more. The same CJ transported to Texas could have a price tag of twice that. CJs from the northern states with salted roads are probably full of rust roles and major rot and the price reflects that.

The bottom line is that $8,000 should buy a really nice CJ. Post some good, clear, detailed photos of the major areas and we can tell you what we think it's worth it.

At the end of of the day, you'll have to make a leak of faith when you hand your money over to the seller. If you think you got a good deal, then that goes a long way. Just be sure you go into the process with a good understand of what you're buying.

It takes time to gain an understanding of CJs and the free market and pricing. It took me several years of looking at CJs for sale online and in person to get my head around it, but at some point you reach the point where you think, "I really want this CJ" and you're willing to overlook its problems and hand your money over to the seller.

Originally Posted by Jeep_Wanted View Post
...Bad thing is, once I go look at one, I'm not sure I know exactly what to look for to correctly identify all of the above.
That's a very valid issue, and then the whole problem of the worth of a specific CJ is clouded by all of the other factors (rust, paint color, what top is included, tire size, etc, etc)

You really have to make a list of major items you're looking for, and order that list from most important to least important. If you're looking for the best MPG, then the items related to MPG should be at the top of the list.

Regarding how to identify specific components. I'm no expert, but off the top of my head, start with the basics:

Engine: Google some photos of the AMC 304 and the 258. If you look at enough photos, you'll see that the 258 has one valve cover, and the air filter is positioned off-center of the engine. The 304 (a typical V8 in many regards), has the air filter centered over the engine, and it has 2 valve covers, positioned in a "V" pattern over the engine. An engine like that could really be almost any kind/size of engine like a 350, 304, 460, etc.

Transmission: Look at the round label on top of the shift lever to see how many speeds it shows. If it's missing, ask the seller. Again, use Google to help learn how to identify Jeep transmissions because you can be 100% sure that this question has come up before. Same with the transfer case, but in the 1980's CJs, I think they all came with the Dana 300 and it is known to be so reliable that they are usually not swapped out with anything, especially on a Jeep that hasn't been heavily modified.

Axles: You can Google this too (ie: use Google Images). On a 1980's CJ, the front is most likely a Dana 30, and the rear is proably an AMC model 20 which has a round/circular pumpin (differential housing/cover). If it's not round like a circle, then it's something else. Since you're looking mostly for a daily driver, this is of less importance at this time I guess.

"I give you a republic, if you can keep it." - Benjamin Franklin
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post #11 of 19 Old 02-26-2012, 07:59 AM
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I live in the Northeast and Vehicles in general are prone to snow and salt every winter. I was at an auto body shop just this past week and there was a 2010 JK with bubbling rust on the rocker panel. That alone tells you what the effects of the weather around here plays in the condition of vehicles.
Knowing this I researched the best way to get a southwestern CJ without having to actually go out there myself. I actually found a guy that lives 2 hours away from me that goes out west to purchase Jeeps to bring back east. With that I was able to pick up a clean 1985 CJ7 for 5k. I have a solid foundation with no rust to deal with, but finding out that some mechanical issues need to be tended to. I also need to get some paint shot on it as it was baked in the California sun for 20+ years.
So 8k you should be able to get a real nice rig. Do your research and have the vehicle professionally checked out before ******* over the cash.
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-29-2012, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys I havent been on in a few days but I have been busy looking at different jeeps on the net and have one that I'm very interested in. I'm going Saturday to take a look at it. Ken4444 has been giving me some good insight on this jeep and jeeps in gerneral (thanks again Ken). I will attempt to post a link to photobucket that has a couple pics of the jeep. I will be taking a camera and plan on taking a bunch of pics for you guys to check it out and give me some insight. All opinions, tips, insight, etc. will be appreciated. This is what I know about it so far from the current owner.

83 CJ7 Original Tub with NO RUST
New 258 I6 with T5 tranny (what kind of questions do i ask about the motor?)
Dana 300 TC, Dana 30 front end, AMC 20 Rear with the one piece axles
New Weber 2 barrel carb
Hedman Headers
Brand new wild county radials 31x10.50x15
All gauges, brake lights, head lights, dash lights, horn and turn signal works. Reverse lights do not
Rough Country leaf springs and shocks
4x4 shifts good, hubs lock in and out easy, all new fluids
Has receipts for all that has been purchased for the jeep.

So that's what I do know about the Jeep. Like I said I'm going down Saturday (3.5hr drive) to look at it and take pics and such. It's painted flat black which I'm not overly crazy about but I do want a black Jeep so maybe it would be easier to paint? Also the rear bench seat does not match the front seats. So i would be looking at purchasing a new rear seat or re-upholstering the current one.

I may need help figuring out how to post the pics.. I did create a photobucket account..

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post #13 of 19 Old 02-29-2012, 09:11 PM
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Flat black paint is very effective at hiding creases, bulges and rust and is the easiest "colour" to rattle can spray. It would ring alarm bells in my mind that a PO has painted it flat black. It will not help you when you come to respray it as I suspect it has been done with low quality paint and you will need to rub it all down and start with an etch primer over it all.

When I buy I like to see 20 year old paint and rust because I know what I am getting. See Bagusjeep below when purchased and now. I knew the windscreen was rotten but the rest was sound.

It is in summer rig, so does the owner have the steel doors, top etc? If not then the value somewhat decreases. You may find the doors were rusty so he splashed $160 on those fabric doors (I have the same ones for the same reason).

The engine bay looks immaculate but that does not mean the engine is good. Those are all bolt on parts that you can see down to the cheap aluminium valve cover. You have to ask really searching questions about why he is advertising this with a NEW engine? These have not been made in near 20 years so it is NOT NEW.

If it has been rebuilt then by whom? Is there a transferrable warranty? If he did it himself then seek receipts for parts and machining. If no receipts for timing chain, camshaft, oil pump then he has done it on the cheap. If he is not a top flight mechanic then you are buying an unknown home fix of a worn out engine and pay accordingly. if the engine was worn out then how about the rest of the drivetrain?

No pictures of the interior but sounds like it was rough before and is still. I suspect you will find it is very rough inside, the door cards would have been in in pieces, the dash mucked about with and large plates welded in below the roll bar mounts where the rust holes were.

Looking at it I would struggle to justify buying it unless it was cheap. If it was an animal it would bark.
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1981 CJ7 258ci - Bagusjeep
1984 CJ7 258ci - Puthijeep
1981 J20 258ci - Gladys
1951 Willys CJ3A/MB/M38 - Little Willy
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post #14 of 19 Old 03-01-2012, 02:01 AM
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jeep wanted:

do not get in a hurry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

plenty of old jeeps out there, just take your time.

i would not even make a offer on any jeep until you have driven at least 3 to 4 jeeps.
i have the 4 banger 1984, very low power, stick with the 6 cylinder, i do not recommend a jeep with a v8 as the vehicle has such a short wheel base, they can be very unstable at higher speeds.

take a magnet with a extended handle with you, (buy at auto parts store) also a piece of cloth, do not want to scar the finish as you move the magnet around on the body looking for filler or bono.
take old clothes or jump suit with you, so you can crawl under the jeep.

take it for a long test drive over some rough country roads, that is where a poor or worn steering really shows up on uneven roads.

again, take your time,

find some older dude that has owned a jeep for years and knows the problems they can have to go with you.

good luck and keep your money in your pocket until you are sure you have found what you want.

problem: there is alway a good market for jeeps, but in the spring there is even a better market for jeeps.
worst time to be looking for a jeep is in the spring, but best time to sell a jeep.
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-06-2012, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Well I'm finally getting around to update this, but I went to look at the flat balck jeep last weekend.

First, I'll recommend to make sure your camera has charged batteries if you plan on taking pics of a jeep that you drive 3.5 hours to see.. That wa disappointing but i gave this jeep a very good look and here are my notes..

The jeep definately had issues with the hood, had bondo under the hood where the hood latch hooks into the hood to hold it down. There were a couple areas that were definitely rusted and had just been covered with paint.

There was a transmission fluid leak around one bolt under the tranny, I'm guessing that there was just a gasket issue in there..

The front drive shaft had a good bit of slack in it. Only top it came with was a bikini top.

The jeep drove good, handles nicely at 50mph, shifted easily, could tell the new suspension made for a smooth ride.

The engine looked and sounded very good, no funny vibrations. No leaks before or after riding it a while.

Definitely needs new paint and some love on that hood.

I liked the jeep, enjoyed looking it over and test driving it but I need to look at some more before I make any decisions. Just couldn't see myself spending the asking price for this jeep with the work that stills needs to be done.

Saw two SHO-NUFF rust buckets after the flat black jeep. Don't know what they wanted for them but they need more love than I have time for right now. Was impressed how a fresh paint job can make one look nice from the outside but it didn't cover the rust issues under the jeep. Body mount bushings were busted on all three jeeps.. Is this pretty common on the older jeeps? The rust buckets were in worse shape than the flat black jeep but all three had at least one bushing that was cracked completely into.

Will be looking at possibly two more this coming weekend
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