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Old 08-28-2012, 08:49 PM   #1
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Question '76 CJ-5 for $1,600? Please Help!

Hey guys! I've been talking a lot about wanting to get a Jeep and doing research here on the forums. My dad went to see a client today and they had a '76 CJ-5 sitting in the backyard. Since he knew I've been wanting a Jeep he asked how much and they told him $1,600.

It has a brand new engine in it, apparently runs fine, paint has been stripped down and has primer on it currently and is ready for a paint job (I guess they never got around to it), top has been off and it's been exposed to the elements, etc.

I don't really know much about CJ's other than they are the classic Jeep. I was looking at getting a TJ so all of my research has been on those so I'm kinda lost on this one. I know to look out for rust and check the axles but other than that, what should I be looking for? I know the price is pretty good but I don't want to just lay money down and realize later that it was a mistake. If you guys could help me out, that would be of great help.

As far as aftermarket stuff, what all is there? Suspension lifts, Tops, etc?
Is there a huge market for parts to pull from?

Thanks guys!

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Old 08-28-2012, 09:42 PM   #2
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As far as aftermarket stuff, what all is there? Suspension lifts, Tops, etc?
Is there a huge market for parts to pull from?
You can completely rebuild a CJ using aftermarket parts. It is not exactly cheap but it can be done. Remember CJ's were built for 40 years. Wranglers have been around for about 26 years. More CJ parts are interchangeable than Wrangler parts. That is a broad statement but for the most part accurate.

Check the frame for rust/rot. If the frame is solid you are good to go. Take a small screw driver with you and poke on every low part of the frame. Poke hard at it. Look for cracks at the spring hangers. A CJ is only as good as it's frame.

Worry about the lifts & tops, etc. later.

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Old 08-28-2012, 10:27 PM   #3
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Wipers

If wipers are important to you....... check them... they can be a PITA to find parts for......I NEVER found the part to fic my passenger side......


Also look for frame PATCHES......
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:11 PM   #4
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Ok, Thanks for the help guys! I'll check all of that out. Is the price good though? I'm not really up to date on the current CJ market.
I know I'll probably get attacked for this but could I put an Automatic in it if it needs a new trans? I haven't learned to drive a stick so I could use this as an excuse to learn and I know it wasn't an available feature except for on the CJ-7's so I was just wondering.

Is there anything I should look for that says "Run for the hills" if I find it? If it needs a new trans (They said it runs great so I highly doubt it) should I skip it?

Remember, I have around the budget for a '98 TJ so I don't mind skipping and getting a TJ but just being able to say I own a CJ just feels good.

There is a guy at my church I saw one time driving a CJ. Since I didn't know much about them, I couldn't identify it but I do know that it had a MASSIVE circular speedometer in the middle of the dash (if that helps you identify). Any idea what he had? If I run into him again, I'll make sure to ask him some questions.

Also, How hard is it to get a hard top for one of these things? I'll mainly be running a spiderweb shade when the hard top and doors are off but I was just wanting to know.

Thanks for the help guys. If you could help me out with those things, I'll see what I can do.
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:43 PM   #5
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I asked my dad to have them send him pictures of the Jeep so I'll hopefully be able to post those up later. He said if I think it looks good, we'll go check it out hopefully this weekend.

If someone could answer the questions in my previous post, I'll be ready to go look at it this weekend.

Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:18 PM   #6
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"Massive" circular speedometer was standard for about 31 years ... in CJ5s, 7s, 8s, late model 3Bs, etc.

Automatic can be installed in a CJ5, but it is a job for an expert. There are many issues to overcome.

Do you plan for this rig to be a reliable daily driver, right from the get-go?

If that's what you need, get a TJ.

A CJ selling for $1600 is going to need plenty of work. And things that work today won't work tomorrow...

To run a CJ like this on a daily basis, you need the skills to be able to replace a master cylinder in a evening, or ujoints, or wheel bearings, or drum brakes. You'll need the skill and tools to replace a clutch on a Saturday, or drill out exhaust manifold bolts, or rebuild the tcase over the weekend...
owning and maintaining a CJ for reliability is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.

I know. I ran a '71 CJ5 for 16 years; sold it in '07. It took many years and many $$$$ to get it to the point where it was fully reliable. Even then, I was frustrated with it when I sold it... and bought an LJ

If you're buying this as a project, great! You'll need another, reliable rig to go to the parts store and the boneyard... and to go to work so you can pay for the all parts you'll need...

I don't mean to be discouraging... I love CJs... I've owned quite a few, and I expect to build another one sometime... but if you are expecting a $1600 CJ to take you everywhere you want to go on a moment's notice, and do it every time without fail... you'll be better off with the TJ.

Good luck!
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:59 PM   #7
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By no means is your advice discouraging. That's actually the kind of reply I was wanting.

I'll mainly use it for a get around town rig. I'm buying my Uncle's truck in two weeks and that will be my (sort of) reliable way to get around town and to work until I can get the CJ up and running.

The engine has been swapped out so it's not the original because they said it only had a few thousand miles on it. I would like for it to be a semi-reliable rig at some point and time and to get me from point A to point B without problems.

Since it has a swapped engine, will I run into as many problems? I'm really good with tools and tinkering with stuff so most of the body work I could do but the engine/trans may be another story.

I may stay with the stick shift since it'll be a little more fun to drive. I'll just have to learn...


What do you think I should do? I went to look at some TJ's today and they are still WAY out of my price range so that's why I've taken an interest in the CJ. I just don't want to dump money into it...

I'm all ears so PLEASE give me some advice and I'll listen!
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:25 AM   #8
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The 1976 is an "intermediate" year for Jeeps and they can be a real PITA to find parts for. If you are not a "search and find" kinda person......get something newer or older....
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:16 PM   #9
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Well, no, that's not correct... 1976 is not an intermediate year. Intermediates were '72 through '75.

1976 is the first year that incorporates all of the AMC changes, including the frame rail spacing getting wider behind the door and wider springs.

(the '72 - '75 units although built by AMC still retained much of the Kaiser configuration. Since they were part AMC and part legacy Kaiser, components and aftermarket support for the intermediates are, as said above, harder to find)
Almost all CJ5 stuff is interchangeable 1976 - 1983, with good aftermarket support (not so for the '72 - 75 intermediates). Most glossy catalogs show components "fit '76 -'86 CJs".
Note that CJ5 production ended in 1983, while CJ7 production continued through 1986.

Learning a manual transmission can be accomplished in a few hours in an empty parking lot with a good teacher. After that, you'll just get better at it with experience and "feel".

What engine does it have now?

Is it a 3-speed or 4-speed? Original transmission?

If this is going to be a project rig... and the frame is solid, the tub is reasonably solid... the engine starts and the brakes work... this will make a great project!!

Good luck!!
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:12 PM   #10
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As far as I know. It has the original trans in it, engine has been swapped (not sure what's in there now), doesn't show signs of rust (according to my dad), has the hard top and hard doors (also according to my dad which doesn't know a whole heck of a lot about Jeeps), owner says it runs good so I assume everything works. It sounds to me that it was a project Jeep, they got it fixed up and running and never got around to putting the finishing touches on it.

My dad says it's been stripped down and has primer on it, all the gauges are out and wires everywhere. HE says it's going to need a ton of work but if I'm envisioning right, I'll just be finishing up someone else's project.

Here are my thoughts and concerns.
I've read a ton of stuff on here and other forums of these X vs. Y threads and one really hit home. Someone was wanting to know if they should get a CJ and fix it up or buy a TJ and have a reliable DD. Most of the responses where "If you buy the CJ, it's not going to be as reliable as the TJ or have as smooth of a ride but it will be easier to fix than the TJ and a lot more fun to drive".

I'm a Junior in High-School and I only have around 2 years until I head off for college (which is looking like I will stay home and do my first two years at community college and transfer out to specialize in something). My only uses for the Jeep would be to get around town, go to soccer/basketball practice, events, work, etc. I probably would never drive it more than 30 minutes out of town (we have a farm outside of town and even then I may not drive it for the sake of gas cost).

Now hear is the catch though...
I have $500 currently in my name. My uncle is moving and offered me his truck (2000 FORD F-150) for $500 because he doesn't have a use for it anymore and will need brake, air and heating work done to it. I was looking at selling it, making a profit and then putting the money towards a TJ. If I buy the CJ, I'll have to keep the truck to be able to work on the CJ and then pay my parents back for the CJ unless I sell the truck and use the money to dump into the CJ and get it running ASAP.

What I really need to know is, if I fix the CJ, how much money am I looking to dump into this thing to get it running reliably? Since it has a different engine, I wouldn't have to mess with any problems with the original engine so it would mainly be exterior work (right?).

What do you guys think I should do? Should I at least take a look at the CJ and see if it really was a project that was almost finished and go ahead and finish it or should I just save my pennies and get the TJ?

The owner has been really busy the past few days since my dad saw them so they said they would send us pictures Friday and I'll post them up when we receive them. If you guys think it looks worth it, I'll go check it out on Saturday.

Once again, thanks for all of the help!
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Old 08-31-2012, 12:50 AM   #11
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I stand corrected......many apologies.....
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Had 75CJ5, 89YJ, 93YJ. Have 82CJ7 & 95YJ____Not one burnt yet due to lack of relays.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:17 PM   #12
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I would say go for it, keep the truck and get the CJ as a project.

its hard to say how much money it will take to get it reliably running, but basically anything thats original is now 40 years old, not that there gonna need replacement immediatley, they might last for the entire time you own it. but there tired. the paint job alone is gonna cost you 2 grand to get it done right.

it sounds like it needs a bunch of wiring work, that's gonna be a headache, and a time consuming process but that's not particularly a expensive thing to do. you could go there and it run/drive great with no problems. its impossible to tell you how much. but as long as you have the truck as a back-up I would say go for it.

you'll have problems in the TJ as well, granted they'll be of a different nature, but there be there, and having a second vehicle to back up on is always a plus
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Old 08-31-2012, 02:44 PM   #13
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I would say go for it, keep the truck and get the CJ as a project.

its hard to say how much money it will take to get it reliably running, but basically anything thats original is now 40 years old, not that there gonna need replacement immediatley, they might last for the entire time you own it. but there tired. the paint job alone is gonna cost you 2 grand to get it done right.

it sounds like it needs a bunch of wiring work, that's gonna be a headache, and a time consuming process but that's not particularly a expensive thing to do. you could go there and it run/drive great with no problems. its impossible to tell you how much. but as long as you have the truck as a back-up I would say go for it.

you'll have problems in the TJ as well, granted they'll be of a different nature, but there be there, and having a second vehicle to back up on is always a plus
I would definitively do this but I won't have any money to put into the Jeep and insurance for both vehicles will kill me.
Hell, the insurance for the truck alone is gonna kill me...
Parents aren't too crazy about having so many vehicles either. That'll make four vehicles total so I'm restricted to one vehicle at this point.
Best thing I can do at this point is get the truck, fix it up and sell it while the Jeep sits in the garage and use all the money to get the Jeep up and running. I'll have to borrow my parents minivan for the time being until the Jeep runs. That's why I want to get the Jeep to a reliable state so I'm only having to do maintenance every once an a while.

My dad told me that 2 or 3 people had gone by the owners house to look at the Jeep in the past few days and none of them called back which kinda concerns me that they are seeing something wrong with it. Still waiting on pictures so I'll post those when I finally get them.

I still would like some more input on my last post to see what everyone thinks.

I did stumble upon someone that rebuilt a 1978 CJ-5 with a budget like mine in around 2 months. He started with a really good base Jeep but if I could get up and running in that time, I wouldn't mind being without a vehicle until it's done.
Jonathan's 1978 Jeep CJ-5 Project: Schedule and Budget

Who knows though, I might get there and it's a mushy frame, terrible condition tub, etc. In that case, I'll just stick to my original plan for my TJ build.
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:31 AM   #14
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Exclamation Update!

Just wanted to give you guys a quick update.
Requested pictures multiple times and they never sent them so we never got to go and see it. Went to a local Jeep dealership (I live right down the street from one) and was shocked at how cheap their prices were on a TJ. They are partnered with a whole chain of dealerships so they said just to come in when I have the cash, tell them what color, axle, engine, trans, etc and they can get it. I told them my price range too and they said it would be possible to get one in that price range so I think I'll just get the TJ and live with it.

Thanks for all the help on the CJ though. I guess if I ever want to do a CJ build, I'll know more info about it before hand.

Once again, thanks for the help!
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:06 AM   #15
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This sounds like the best alternative for your current and near-future situation.

Good luck!!
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Old 09-06-2012, 03:20 PM   #16
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make sure you get the 4.0, don't let the sell you a 2.5, you'll regret it
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:29 PM   #17
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make sure you get the 4.0, don't let the sell you a 2.5, you'll regret it
Oh yeah, I've done WAY too much research on the TJ so I know pretty much exactly what I'm looking for. So far I've gotten some funny looks at dealerships and mom and pop lots when I lay down on the ground to look at the rear Axle. Wanting a D44 and I just keep the same bland poker face when I get up and then get excited when I get home that they have the one I want. Just don't have the cash...

I'll be a Jeeper one day. I'll just be driving an F-150 for now
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:36 AM   #18
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yup, take your time you'll find the right one, and to save you crawling under unnecessarily, D44's started in 03
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:52 AM   #19
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yup, take your time you'll find the right one, and to save you crawling under unnecessarily, D44's started in 03
From what I've read, they've been optional on all Wrangler's from '98 and up (may have been 97). I think 03 was when they became standard. I have a budget between $5,000-$8000 and the '98 and '99 seem to fall in that price range. Also, I really like the Chili Pepper Red so that was another thing. The color isn't really important but the Pepper read just looks nice to me.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:51 PM   #20
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nope, its 03 and up as a option on sports and saharas. they were only standard on rubi's
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:09 AM   #21
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nope, its 03 and up as a option on sports and saharas. they were only standard on rubi's
Not entirely true, my friend. D44s show up on TJs as far back as '98, and have been seen on some '97s. I believe in the early TJ years, it wasn't so much an option as it was Chrysler installed what they had available.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:09 AM   #22
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Not entirely true, my friend. D44s show up on TJs as far back as '98, and have been seen on some '97s. I believe in the early TJ years, it wasn't so much an option as it was Chrysler installed what they had available.
Yeah. There are plenty of people on this forum that have '98 or '99's with a D44 rear. It's just that in 03 the D44 was a really popular upgrade so they are easier to find with a D44.
Anyways, I kinda like Chili Pepper Red and 99 was the last year the color was available.
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:00 PM   #23
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Not entirely true, my friend. D44s show up on TJs as far back as '98, and have been seen on some '97s. I believe in the early TJ years, it wasn't so much an option as it was Chrysler installed what they had available.
Wow, info changes all the time i guess, its what i get for not going to the TJ forums in over a year, lol.

anyways good luck with your search, though i imagine their still a hard find on pre-03

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