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Hey guys, I have a 1978 CJ5 Levi's edition with a 258.

This Jeep is pretty close to original and I'd like to keep it that way as much as possible. It was a barn find and is in very good shape with minimal rust. I have the original soft top with all the hardware and doors and seats which I've put in storage to preserve them.

I'm not too interested in "upgrades" so-to-speak. I just want it to run well and have all components work while keeping the original equipment if possible. I really like stock looking CJ's.

My question is: To what extent do you try and preserve it's originality? For example, I'm struggling with some wiring issues (crazy, I know) and am considering replacing the wiring with a Painless or other set up. Because it's not the original wiring, does this upgrade negatively affect the value of the Jeep? Or, should I try and use the existing wiring and work through the problems? If I decide someday to repaint, does that negatively affect the value or is it better to have the "patina"?

Below is a pic in the PO's driveway the day I picked it up.
 

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Just my opinion, there have already been things replaced so it isn’t going to be an all original survivor that commands big money. So make it reliable and the way you want it.


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Depends on the Jeep, and the buyer. I have dealt with a guy that restores CJ's and he only uses original parts. He buys multiple CJ's from all across the country for the original parts, uses those parts for his restoration, and then replaces them with reproductions. He sells all the "restored" Jeeps for a profit, but makes really big profits on the one all correct all original Jeep.

Some people know their Jeeps and some don't. I doubt a collector would worry about Painless wiring instead of the usually well effed up original wires. When I looked for my CJ-7 one seller had redone a bunch of engine bay wiring with brown lamp cord from the hardware store.

If you keep before and after pictures showing no rust holes, a well done repaint will raise the value.
 

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Value is in the eye of the beholder. That Jeep came off the AMC factory floor with duct tape on wire splices. I'd rather have a safe and reliable driver than original wiring. A pristine condition 100% original survivor will always command bigger money, but more likely than not, a well resto-modded CJ can bring just as much money.

I have a '76 CJ5 that I put through many changes ever the last several years...351w w/ EFI swap, Ford T18, Painless wiring, Speedhut gauges, PRP seats, D44 rear axle, disc brake upgrade, LED bulb replacement, dual diaphragm brake booster, 21ga fuel tank, heim joint wiper linkages, twin stick D20, custom dash from DD Fabrication, Dirtworx rear bumper w/ swingout tire carrier, and a handful of other odds and ends.

I drive the hell out of it in all sorts of weather and it's an extremely reliable machine now...even more so than my 2014 pickup and minivan. They have spent more time in the driveway/shop for repairs than my CJ has.

I've had two offers on it in the last year. $24k from a guy on the Navy base that I work at that just got off deployment and had $$ burning a hole in his pocket; $35k from a guy at a car show that felt like he wanted it more than I did. He was wrong. Is my CJ really worth that much? Well, to those guys, it was...and I guess to me, it's worth a lot more because I didn't let go of it...and I never will.
 

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Like others have mentioned, it's all about what it's worth to you and/or someone who's willing to pony up money for it if/when it's time to sell. I've seen mostly original survivors going for big bucks ($15-25K), and half-assed flip-jobs with complete drive train swaps going for $25-40K. It kind of makes no sense when you think about it, but it truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Me personally, and like others have said, I say build it for you. If you like/want the originality, put it back as well as you can and enjoy it. Some things are easier to come by as OEM than others, and some are unobtainable, requiring aftermarket replacements. Mine's a restomod that was still mostly original (up to the suspension, bumpers, axles, and wheels) until last summer when I went on a shopping spree for a 'new' drive train (304 V8 & TF999 automatic), YJ hard top, and late-model 'paddle handle' doors. I'm happy with my choices, and don't really care what others feel it might be worth, since I won't be selling it anytime soon.
 

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there is an *** for every SEAT.

I have my CJ to enjoy it, and my '66 F-250 for the same reason. I'm heavily modifying the F-250, and when I'm done with that if I'm still alive I'll do the same with the CJ. And I wont have to spend a fortune on either, and I'll have a crap-load of fun with both.

Eric
 

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A Jeep was an inexpensive utility vehicle that was designed to drive off road and probably get scratched up. The body and frame on my 1985 CJ7 are all original but everything that unbolts from it has been replaced. Springs, axles, transmission (NV4500), motor (hopped up 1988 Mustang 5.0 EFI), seats, center console, dash, gauges, wheels and tires and steering wheel. I purchased the Jeep to use it as a go anywhere Jeep and I use it for that and have fun doing it. I can guarantee that my Jeep if more fun to drive on and off the road than any stock 1985 CJ7 out there. It just does things that a stock CJ7 was never designed to do.
 

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Folks get hung up on the term "Restore." Restore means to bring back to life a vehicle so that it is exactly like it was when it left the factory. No one in his or her right mind who has driven a CJ for a while would ever want to bring it back to original unless it is an early CJ. Even the two folks I know--JEEPFELLER being one of them--who own 1946 CJ2As haven't kept them original. You can't get any earlier than that.

My friend Wendel worked during the summer before his senior year in HS to buy a 63 and half Galaxy 500 and held on to it throughout the years. About 10 years ago he had it restored down to the hose clamps and chalk marks on the fire wall. He also is afraid to drive it.

What most of us have done is making our Jeeps "Resto Rods." That usually means we've replaced the crappy stuff from the factory and made them better with upgrades. Wendel also has his dad's 67 Fairlane and made a resto rod out of it. The three on the tree became a four speed and the missing 289 became a 302 with FI. The brakes are front disks. He says he drives it but I can't catch him doing it.

Don't get hung up on original parts. If any one of us were to completely restore and another were to resto mod his or her Jeep to look original it would take a committee of 10 of us to determine which is which and the decision would not be unanimous.

Built not made and mistakes were made!
 

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To soften what I said earlier for those who truly appreciate a 100% original CJ..more power to you the the definition of Freedom is that you get to do what you want. I personally want a Jeep that starts every time, passes California SMOG (which my BAR certified 5.0 EFI conversion does), is easy for me to fix and is fun for me to drive. If I had a Jeep that was 100 percent restored, I would not want to take it deer hunting and fishing for fear that I might scratch it.
 

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Personally, I value original parts on a CJ, because they mean the previous owner hasn't modified and potentially screwed things up worse. I'd take a mostly original CJ over someone else's FrankenJeep any day.

That said, let's face it, most CJs will never be highly valued collector pieces. Unless you find a time capsule CJ, that was stored in good running condition in a climate controlled environment, they are mostly going to be candidates for rest-modding, not restoring.

Matt
 

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Like this one at Fantastic Cavers, Springfield MO? The tour guide said the odometer was showing actual 37 miles, and was a fully functioning vehicle.

Unless you find a time capsule CJ, that was stored in good running condition in a climate controlled environment

Yep, build it like you want it.
 

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Personally, I value original parts on a CJ, because they mean the previous owner hasn't modified and potentially screwed things up worse. I'd take a mostly original CJ over someone else's FrankenJeep any day.

That said, let's face it, most CJs will never be highly valued collector pieces. Unless you find a time capsule CJ, that was stored in good running condition in a climate controlled environment, they are mostly going to be candidates for rest-modding, not restoring.

Matt
Can't argue with that. Unfortunately, you're right that un-messed-around-with Jeeps are getting harder and harder to find.
 

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I have a 1990 Jaguar XJRS with 60,000 miles and a 6.0 V12 that was hand built at Jaguarsport. It is very rare. I have just changed the wiper blades, and kept the originals just in case someone wants them. I even kept the sticking aerial mast just in case, despite having fitted a NOS one. This is a vehicle where the only non original specified parts are oil (no longer made) and tyres (no longer made) (and now wiper blades, as you cannot get Jaguar blades anymore).

If it has original parts, that is a plus for me. The new stuff is often not as well made.

BUT I would draw the line at 50 year old tyres, soft tops as stiff as a board, and wiring that may spark up at any moment. Paintwork that is worn through needs replacing.
 
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