What were your must haves when you bought your CJ? - Page 4 - JeepForum.com
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post #46 of 63 Old 03-04-2020, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Matt1981CJ7 View Post
Originally Posted by uw91 View Post
Matt.... are you saying 'literally' your father's jeep or one exactly like it?

I told my wife and kids that if my Jeep ever leaves the family after I am gone that I will be resurrected, not in a good Disney way, and scorch this earth.

It's my Father's CJ. He brought it new in 1981. I bought it from my Mother when dad died in '93. We shared so many good times together in my Father's Jeeps. I learned to drive in his '72, even took my driver's license test in it. He wrecked that one, then bought the '81. It remains my most cherished material item, because I think of him every time I drive it.

Great story. Glad you still have it.

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post #47 of 63 Old 03-05-2020, 09:52 AM
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1979 CJ7 
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My first Jeep was a '79, I was born in '79 as well, so I was looking for a couple years for another '79. Didn't mind if it was just a title, wanted to build one from the ground up.

I had a 258 in my first one and wanted a V8. My first CJ was blue, so kinda wanted same thing.

I ended up finding a '79, V8, blue, 4100gvw, limited slip rear an hour south of me.

I wanted to build an all new Jeep, but this turd had a fiberglass body and was close enough to work with. Cleaned some stuff up and am driving it now. Swapped a 401 with a T176 in, but want to build a new frame/clean body one next winter. I honestly think it would have taken less time to start from scratch.
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post #48 of 63 Old 03-05-2020, 02:23 PM
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1983 CJ7 
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Given that no plan survives contact with the enemy, I'll list some things I should have had on that list - IOW things I will definitely have on the list for my next CJ (if any). Apologies if this turns into a "used CJ checklist" but perhaps we should make one of those and post a stickie?

Of course there are always personal preferences such as exterior/interior color/trim, manual or automatic trans, etc. which are subjective and not really must-haves in the greater scheme of things.

With that minor caveat out of the way, "next time" here are the things I would require, or which would cause me to walk away:

Number one requirement, without a doubt, would be a straight, rust-free body. Given the often substandard quality of 1980s-era American cars and the PITA of fixing rusty Jeep bodies, I will never again accept a CJ with rust or bent metal that would require substantial body work or panel replacement. I'm not talking about easy stuff like hood or fenders that can be readily replaced. But CJs have a common problem with deep rust, the kind that gets in between the layers of sheet metal in front of the rear wheel well and creeps into the structure of the tub like a cancer.

As bad as that is, it's still fairly straightforward to fix by a good body shop. But because of the way the "tub" is constructed, No rust is acceptable in the following places around windshield frame. That goes double for the cowl seal area, and triple for the join between the windshield base and the tub. Replacement frames look different, a new cowl seal won't compensate for body rust, and if that join is compromised the only way to really fix it is to replace the cowl. Walk away. No, run away.

Have a look at the paint and bodywork. A good respray or minor bodywork can be dealt with. Bad/wrong paint that has to be entirely removed or massive amounts of Bondo are likewise a disqualifying no-go.

Number two would be interior, up to a point. If having an original color scheme is important, then the original interior is important. If not, everything is replaceable in limited colors and aftermarket options abound.

Number three would be electrical issues:

Gauges - All gauges must work. Given the 1930s technology in use, especially the weird gas/temp gauge set up, if they don't work there's a good chance you'll never get them to work. Add in the shoddy quality of Crown/Omix replacements, and you have a problem that will probably annoy you as long as you own the Jeep.

Dash/Wiring - If there's a PO-created rat nest back there, consider walking away. I mean it's a rat nest to begin with, but I never cease to be amazed at what POs did while troubleshooting some electrical problem or even installing an aftermarket stereo.

Chassis ground - Similarly, these vehicles are dependent on body condition in order to have a decent ground for the electrical system. Even a "simple" vehicle like a CJ has more complicated electrical stuff than you'd think, and you'll find out about that when you try to fix it. Probably the most Rube Goldberg of the above is the oddball turn signal/marker light/headlight setup. Check the turn signals, with the headlights off and with them on. If you can't see the turn signals and marker lights flashing alternatively, plan on running dedicated grounds and possibly doing the headlight solenoid mod. If you're up for that, fine; otherwise walk away.

Notice how I've hardly mentioned mechanical items. That's because everything mechanical is relatively easy to fix, replace or upgrade. If you're not mechanically inclined, want something ready-to-go or have a limited hobby budget, spend more on the initial purchase and buy quality. Otherwise, from windshield wiper bushings to suspension upgrades, it's all pretty straightforward. As to mechanical considerations:

Number four would be modifications by previous owner(s) - If present, they should either be easily undone or something I would do myself - and done the way I'd do it. Almost any unrestored CJ will have enough issues without having to undo someone else's shoddy work before such issues can be properly addressed.

Engine - I would look to see if POs had tried to hot-rod the engine. Even if I planned to do a throttle body or MPFI (the 4.0 upgrade), I would prefer to start from a known-good condition. Something like a nutter bypass would be okay, but the last thing I want would be to get started and discover that some guy had tried to make a fire-breathing monster out of a 258. But if the rest of the Jeep is compelling, engines can be replaced.

Transmission - Don't really care; manual and auto both have their pros and cons. If that's the only issue, transmissions can be replaced.

Suspension - Not a problem; whether it's a worn-out original setup or a bad lift job, the CJ suspension is not rocket science. All it takes is research, planning, time and money.

And that's my two bits: Find a Jeep you like then start looking at issues.
If you pile up too many of those, the price/hassle ratio gets too far to the wrong side and you walk away.

"Let all the laws be clear, uniform and precise:
To interpret laws is almost always to corrupt them."

~ Voltaire
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post #49 of 63 Old 03-05-2020, 07:19 PM
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I have a couple required features on any CJ I've ever considered purchasing;
1. Non functional gas gauge
2. at least half the dash lights must be inoperable
3. Something should be leaking. It can be a leak or a weep, but leak it must.

Never had an issue finding exactly what I'm looking for, my last '83 CJ7 was no exception. (I'm like 8 for 8 cj-wise)

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Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement
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post #50 of 63 Old 03-05-2020, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JoonHoss View Post
I have a couple required features on any CJ I've ever considered purchasing;
1. Non functional gas gauge
2. at least half the dash lights must be inoperable
3. Something should be leaking. It can be a leak or a weep, but leak it must.

Never had an issue finding exactly what I'm looking for, my last '83 CJ7 was no exception. (I'm like 8 for 8 cj-wise)

<img src="https://www.jeepforum.com/ubb/wink.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Wink" class="inlineimg" />

Mine doesn’t leak, it’s just sweat from all the horsepower.
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post #51 of 63 Old 03-07-2020, 11:13 AM
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1980 CJ5 
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To be honest I didn't know much about Jeeps when I made my choice. I wanted something to get me and my boy out into the woods and get us back home safely. Just knew it had to be manual transmission, soft top, original condition with no previous owners effed-up crap installed and of course a CJ5.
After test driving I don't remember how many piece of crap horribly modified Jeeps, I finally found this one and he was perfect. Paid probably way to much for it but I was not leaving the parking lot without him.
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1980 CJ5, T176, Dana 30, Dana 300, mostly original
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post #52 of 63 Old 04-23-2020, 02:29 PM
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Here are/were mine. Applied to my first CJ 7 (1984) I bought in 1989 and also when I bought my current CJ 7 (1983) in 2014;

1. Clear title.
2. 258 near stock, running with no major issues.
3. Manual trans.
4. No Major rust.
5. No Major wiring hack jobs and all electronics/lights/gauges should function.
6. No major suspension/lift issues.
7. Soft top
8. Price

The 1984 I bought from a dealer and met all my requirements. The only mods I did were, custom pin stripes, an aftermarket stereo, fast back top and a bike rack.

I don't have any pics of the 1984

The 1983 I bought private. I had to go to Georgia to find a decent price, as everyone in Florida thought their CJs were made of solid gold!! LOL. The 2 known issues were gas gauge not working and some rust in the windshield frame. I have replaced or repaired stock parts as needed. Mods include center console, CB, after market stereo system, new full soft top, bikini top, had the windshield frame rust repaired and repainted the entire Jeep.

The first pic is the day I bought the 1983 and drove it from Ga to FL. The 2nd pic is the latest, from a drive with my wife.
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post #53 of 63 Old 04-23-2020, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by John Strenk View Post
No Rust
in otherwords.... John wants a unicorn! :-)
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post #54 of 63 Old 04-23-2020, 05:44 PM
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I bought mine at a fundraiser auction, so my only must have was that it ran...and the engine died on the way home.
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post #55 of 63 Old 04-23-2020, 09:00 PM
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For me no rust. Mostly complete, (no bag of parts along with the "Its all there, trust me" quotes. Manual transmission, nothing beat to hell offroad, no lifts. No custom cuts like for the speakers or other ugly hacks. And a title, SOO many people try to sell with no title and say it's easy to get one, if it was you would have done it by now.

I was okay with a project vehicle, that's what I wanted. So dead motor or transmission was acceptable for me. I lucked out, no rust, everything ran (not good though).
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post #56 of 63 Old 05-02-2020, 08:52 PM
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This is my first of six CJ-5s (top) and #6 (bottom)

#1 1977 w/ that loud 304 (unable to hear anything in the cockpit), some bondo under the driver's door, a somebody's custom two tone paint job (caramel on sandstone), and decals installed incorrectly. My very 1st CJ-5 bought in '81 for one EZ payment of $2400!

#6 also a 1977 w/ that quiet and perfect CJ match-up 258 powerhouse. It was originally "Loden Green", I had to paint it up like "number 1", mainly because everyone loved the two tone (CJs were only one color) and for those sentimental reasons in my heart! Unfortunatly the "sandstone" turned out to be a creamish color, I can live with it for now! This one has lots of userfriendly modifications. In 1991, just one EZ payment of $2200!

As far as the "Must Haves"?

Roadworthy, room for those pesky little females, and most of all, MY NAME ON THE TITLES!

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post #57 of 63 Old 06-16-2020, 04:54 PM
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Smog certificate - must have in California.
Howell conversion kit did the trick
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post #58 of 63 Old 06-18-2020, 02:20 PM
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Large piece of cardboard to put under it...
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post #59 of 63 Old 06-18-2020, 02:25 PM
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For me it was power steering and a winch.
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post #60 of 63 Old 06-18-2020, 04:43 PM
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I'm usually pretty picky, but it really comes down to a few main items (a most of which have been stated by others already).

- Clear title
- Smog exempt (1975 or older)
- Minimal rust
- Minimal leaks
- Work done by previous owner (fab work, mechanical work, etc.) needs to be not hokey.

Beyond that, it comes down to price. I finally found what I have been looking for. A '74 that checks all the boxes. It needs some cosmetic work, but it is a great foundation to start from.
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