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Old 03-03-2015, 10:25 AM   #1
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Oldest CJ

Hey everybody,
I'm thinking about getting a CJ as a around town driver and to take on hunting trips. What is the oldest running CJ that you guys know about? What are the first things to go/what will need replacing first? What should I be looking for when i go see a vehicle? Is there any model that is worse than the others (CJ6 vs CJ7)? Thanks!
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Old 03-03-2015, 11:04 AM   #2
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You mean like a CJ2A, from the 1940's?

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Old 03-03-2015, 11:33 AM   #3
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1945 CJ2A was the very first CJ. Very few were built in 45, 46 was the first full year of production. Check out www.thecj2apage.com


I've owned a half dozen early flat fenders from a 1942 GPW to 1953 CJ3B. I honestly wouldn't recommend them as a driver. They are slow, with a 60hp flat head 4 cylinder, 5.38 gears, drum brakes, Ross steering box, and T-84 or T-90 transmission that is not synchronized in 1st gear.

The earliest CJ I would consider a driver would be a late 1960's CJ5 with the Dauntless V6. But that is still pretty primitive. The intermediate years of 72-75 aren't much better and are hard to find.....so I would look at the modern era of 76-85.

CJ-5's are shorter and have narrow door openings and are a pain for bigger or older people to get in and out of. A CJ-7 will give you the round headlight look of the CJ's but the dimensions and door openings, auto trans, AC etc are more like the Wranglers.

The things that I look for are:

1. Correct title that matches the data plate on the firewall, dash, etc. Often the old Jeeps were originally titled with the engine number instead of the serial number. This can cause problems. A CJ2A for example should have a serial number like "CJ2A 78904" a later 3B may have 453-GB2 103890. Spend some time looking at what the serial number should look like on the Jeep you want, and make sure the one you are looking at is the correct format and range for the year, as well as that number on the title matches the actual data plate.

2. Frame damage. Bubba as we like to call him, loves to torch and weld on Jeep frames. Add plow brackets, you name it. Check the front frame horns for signs of Bubba's work. Also check the frames for rust damage and cracks. The later CJ5-7's are very bad about this.

3. Modifications by previous owner. I personally stay away from modified vehicles unless I can tell what they did. Finding parts for a Jeep that has a late model Chevy 350/350 combo and fiberglass buckets may be difficult. Stick to factory or close as you can get.

4. Modifications by you. All early Jeeps I buy I do the same thing. Convert to one-wire GM alternator, 12 volt battery and cables, coil and upgrade the points to a Pertronix ignition to eliminate them. Secondly if you have drum brakes, especially smaller units under 10", I would upgrade to disc or at the minimum bigger drums and a dual reservoir master cylinder. Steering from the old Ross box is like driving your lawn mower at highway speeds.....fun! I would upgrade to a later Saginaw set up at the minimum. Overdrive units that go into the transfer case are also a nice set up.

5. Body. Don't waste a ton of money sending a beat up old body to a pro body man and spend 10K redoing it. You can buy really nice and really accurate all steel reproductions from MD JUAN in the Philippines. They are the ONLY manufacturer of Jeep steel bodies. Others will claim they are, but all they are doing is buying MD Juan bodies and doing finish work and selling them as USA made. They are not.

6. Cost. Expect to have 15k in a Jeep build minimum if you want it all new and nice. And that is parts alone.

7. Go buy a Polaris Ranger if all you want is a hunting rig. If you want a driver, go buy a 97-06 Wrangler. These old Jeeps are money pits and major pains in the rear. I've been dealing with them for decades now and wish I had my time and money back!!!
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Old 03-03-2015, 07:07 PM   #4
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Jered, that smiley face sends some other message other than wasted time and money, lol! I'm looking toward a CJ7 from 1978 (yikes that's old!) 4 speed. It looks like it has been kept in this guys garage for quite some time. He says he recently did a tune up and replaced the plugs. Running on stock wheels and axles, no lift or anything special. I'm going to see it in person tomorrow, so I hope there are no surprises. What kind of speed can I expect to get from this? I'm not expecting any hot rod, but 65? Is that generally the max on these oldies? Would bigger tires slow it down, or speed it up? I feel like they would give I some speed, but at the same time feel like they might bog it down.
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Old 03-03-2015, 09:30 PM   #5
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Jered, that smiley face sends some other message other than wasted time and money, lol! I'm looking toward a CJ7 from 1978 (yikes that's old!) 4 speed. It looks like it has been kept in this guys garage for quite some time. He says he recently did a tune up and replaced the plugs. Running on stock wheels and axles, no lift or anything special. I'm going to see it in person tomorrow, so I hope there are no surprises. What kind of speed can I expect to get from this? I'm not expecting any hot rod, but 65? Is that generally the max on these oldies? Would bigger tires slow it down, or speed it up? I feel like they would give I some speed, but at the same time feel like they might bog it down.
Heck man that's nearly new compared to the stuff I'm used to dealing with!! Yeah 65 should be no problem at all from a CJ7. Depending on the engine and gear ratio. During that era these were made with 4 cylinders, 2 different inline 6 cylinders and a 304 V8. Should have disc brakes and be a fairly modern driving vehicle.....compared to other makes/models from 1978 that is. Has decent steering box from the factory etc.

You wouldn't need to do anything to one of these other than maintenance of factory parts to have a decent Jeep. Shouldn't have a points ignition or any other BS to mess with at this point.

Check the frame really really well especially around where the leaf springs mount front and rear forward and back. Check for cracks around the steering box as well. Luckily it sounds like it hasn't been lifted with big tires so that makes it easier on the frame.

Could have the quadra-trac transfer case in it....some guys like it, some hate it. Yours should have the Dana 20 if it is original though.

My advice is, unless you can work on it yourself, don't buy one of these old bastards....they don't call the "Just Empty Every Pocket" for nothing.
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Old 03-03-2015, 10:37 PM   #6
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I talked to the guy about an hour ago. He says it has an inline six 4 speed manual transmission. Also has disk breaks. What would you recommend for power addition? Just testing the waters, I don't even own a jeep yet, so...
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Old 03-03-2015, 11:50 PM   #7
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I kinda like the 56 cj5 I just got. Guess I should have picked up something newer since I am older and a big guy (hope I fit). I just planned on climbing in and going for a ride.

For just kicking around a big engine is not needed even the 4 cylinder antiques will get the job done.

It can get quite costly doing repairs and if you try to sell it will likely be at a loss so looking for something that has been fixed up may be a better value over doing it yourself. let the other guy take the loss.
The other side of the coin is doing it yourself. You know the quality of the work and materials and you are familiar with the Jeep so trail repairs won't be so intimidating.

I have had a 42 cj2a, a 56 pickup and now the 56 cj5. I liked the cj2a better than the cj5 as far as comfort behind the wheel but I was younger and smaller then.

I guess I am not a lot of help on deciding but there are a lot of old Jeeps around so take your time and find the one you want. The pickup and cj5 were both love at first sight. The cj2a was just a great deal.

There was good advice above on paperwork. Make sure it is in order I ultimately got rid of the pickup and cj2a over registration issues.
If you find something with a different engine or other improvements take good notes dont trust memory for every detail on the changes. It will help when parts are needed.
Good luck on your search
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:32 AM   #8
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That cj2a sounds like it would be fun back in the hills. Was the 56 truck a j10? I'm also kinda worried about the fit, apparently back in 78 there weren't a ton of 6'4" 200lbs guys wandering around, looking for vehicles to drive. I guess I will learn this afternoon!
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:35 AM   #9
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That cj2a sounds like it would be fun back in the hills. Was the 56 truck a j10? I'm also kinda worried about the fit, apparently back in 78 there weren't a ton of 6'4" 200lbs guys wandering around, looking for vehicles to drive. I guess I will learn this afternoon!
You'll fit as well as you would in a 87-2006 Wrangler. They are the same dimensions essentially. Weight wise you'll be fine, I am 260 and fit in a 2A just fine. My gut nearly rubs the steering wheel but it works. The CJ-7 is as big as they get until the 2007 JK Wranglers came along.

There are plenty of aftermarket power enhancers for the inline sixes, cylinder heads, intakes, carbs, headers, camshafts, etc. I think you'll be fine with the power as long as you're not expecting modern power from the old Jeep. Today's Wranglers have nearly 300hp Pentastar V6 that will flat out scoot in a 2 door Jeep. The older 4.0L HO engine in the TJ's was a decent mover and it had under 200 hp.

Take it for a spin see what you think. Only you will know if you can live with the performance or not.
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Old 03-04-2015, 01:16 PM   #10
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I guess that my only choice!
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:21 PM   #11
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Well, that was not what I expected... The thing couldnt even get into first gear, and the damn engine was screaming in 4th going 45. Doubt I'm going to buy that pos! But, while I was driving home I spotted a YJ... so maybe a YJ instead of a CJ.. I don't even Know!
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Old 03-05-2015, 03:14 PM   #12
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Well, that was not what I expected... The thing couldnt even get into first gear, and the damn engine was screaming in 4th going 45. Doubt I'm going to buy that pos! But, while I was driving home I spotted a YJ... so maybe a YJ instead of a CJ.. I don't even Know!
HAHAHA!!! Yeah if you've never driven a vehicle without an overdrive transmission and low gears it will certainly open your eyes!! Probably had the 3.92 gears in it which would certainly make for some high rpm highway driving with a non overdrive transmission.

A YJ will be marginally better depending on year, I wouldn't even consider a YJ unless is was a 91-95 with the 4.0L and 5 speed manual trans.

Your best bet would be a 97-06 TJ if you want to do any type of highway driving at all. I put 187k on a 98 TJ, 68k on a 2005 TJ, and about 20k on a 2004 TJ.

If price is an issue you honestly shouldn't be looking at Jeeps. You will never find a decent running and driving open top CJ/YJ/TJ for less than $5000....doesn't matter what year. Expect to spend between 5-8k if you want one you can drive that has a top and most everything works.

A $2000 Jeep is like a $500 car......seriously!
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Old 03-05-2015, 05:31 PM   #13
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This thread is cracking me up. You were asking about the oldest CJ. Now we're up to suggesting a 97-06 TJ. But to be honest if you truely want cruising comfort you might as well get a 07-15 JKU. But now since we're talking JKU. You might as well get a 12-15 jku with the 3.6. Now your really cruising down the highway with comfort and power. Since you have the JKU with the 3.6. You could probably pull the oldest Cj around. But you're gonna need a trailer.

Ok I'm going to go read "IF YOU GIVE A MOOSE A MUFFIN" now.
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Old 03-16-2015, 05:08 PM   #14
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The oldest cj is a 1940s cj2a
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:06 PM   #15
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I am just starting out on Jeeping and got into it buying a 1961 Willys Jeep CJ-5. It is a long term project, but luckily just about every part is available for rebuilding old CJ's. There is a ton of information available online. I had wanted a CJ-5 because that was what was around when I was growing up. Prices are so high for CJ's in good condition I thought I might have to settle for a YJ, but I came across this fixer-upper on craigslist for such a good price, I couldn't pass it up. The F-134 engine has a little more power than the older flathead, but no barnburner.
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:52 PM   #16
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lol, I got a 95 yj for anybody who cares! @pm_racing start a new thread, it'll draw more attention than my old, and stupid, questions. Have fun!
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by bigearl View Post
Jered, that smiley face sends some other message other than wasted time and money, lol! I'm looking toward a CJ7 from 1978 (yikes that's old!) 4 speed. It looks like it has been kept in this guys garage for quite some time. He says he recently did a tune up and replaced the plugs. Running on stock wheels and axles, no lift or anything special. I'm going to see it in person tomorrow, so I hope there are no surprises. What kind of speed can I expect to get from this? I'm not expecting any hot rod, but 65? Is that generally the max on these oldies? Would bigger tires slow it down, or speed it up? I feel like they would give I some speed, but at the same time feel like they might bog it down.
Not sure how far your willing to travel but my Aunt and Uncle are selling a 78 CJ5, all stock in good shape. let me know if you have any questions or want some info, located the Bay Area, CA
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:40 PM   #18
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Not sure how far your willing to travel but my Aunt and Uncle are selling a 78 CJ5, all stock in good shape. let me know if you have any questions or want some info, located the Bay Area, CA
Seemly post above yours, lol
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"Time to bust out the honky-tonk attitude"
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:18 AM   #19
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You mean like a CJ2A, from the 1940's?
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The oldest cj is a 1940s cj2a
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Old 03-10-2016, 04:23 PM   #20
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Comfort vs. CJ

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lol, I got a 95 yj for anybody who cares! @pm_racing start a new thread, it'll draw more attention than my old, and stupid, questions. Have fun!
You started out asking about old CJ's then you started talking about comfort. In my opinion you can't have both. I'm enjoying working on my Willys CJ-5 project. Enjoy your YJ. Ignore people who put it down for the rectangular headlights.
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Old 03-10-2016, 08:47 PM   #21
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You started out asking about old CJ's then you started talking about comfort. In my opinion you can't have both. I'm enjoying working on my Willys CJ-5 project. Enjoy your YJ. Ignore people who put it down for the rectangular headlights.
I love my YJ! Surprisingly I haven't had anybody tell me its not a real jeep because it doesn't have round headlights. Maybe it's a cool jeep and everybody likes it, maybe it cause I'm 6'5" and 250lbs and look scary, we may never know! I'm hoping to rebuild an older CJ before I go off to college, hopefully a 3b, I love the high hoods!
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:54 AM   #22
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If price is an issue you honestly shouldn't be looking at Jeeps. You will never find a decent running and driving open top CJ/YJ/TJ for less than $5000....doesn't matter what year. Expect to spend between 5-8k if you want one you can drive that has a top and most everything works.

A $2000 Jeep is like a $500 car......seriously!
Before I finally found and bought a non-running, rusty but almost complete 1961 Willys CJ-5 project Jeep, I had been talking with a friend who used to own a Ford dealership. I told him I was looking for an old Jeep. He said that a Suzuki Samurai could be a better buy. I checked around and he was right. If all I wanted was a cheap offroader, I might have gotten a Samurai or an old Kia Sportage.

I still bought the Jeep when I found it because I wanted both an antique vehicle and a 4x4. The parts to rebuild an old Jeep are readily available and I expect they will continue to be available for years to come. I expect to keep the CJ-5 around to enjoy when I retire.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:14 PM   #23
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I found a 1991 Samurai for $7k. For that price I'm buying a Jeep.

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