The Jeep That Started it All

The Jeep CJ, meaning civilian jeep, had the longest production run of any Jeep built so far. Starting with the first CJ in 1944 built by Willys-Overland running all the way until the last CJ built by AMC rolled off the assembly line in 1986. With such a long production run, many revisions and redesigns occurred. Here are some tips to help identify some of the CJs you may encounter.

CJ-2 1945 Identification

Although the Willys-Overland CJ-2 was not really available for retail. The CJ-2s, were the second generation prototype for the first production civilian Jeep. Using the Willys same “Go Devil Engine,” but stripped of all military features. The earlier models had brass plaques on the hood and a windshield that read “JEEP”. The spare tire was mounted near the passenger-side rear wheel on the earlier models and then mounted on the rear in the later additions.





1949 Jeep CJ-3 Identification

It featured a one-piece windshield with a vent as well as wipers at the bottom. There were also a shorter rear wheel-well (the wheel-well from the top front edge to the rear of the body is 32 inches (810 mm) on the 3A compared to 34 inches (860 mm) on the 2A) and moving the driver seat backward.

Identifying 1955-1983 Jeep CJ-5


To accommodate the new engines, the fenders and hood were stretched 5 inches starting in 1972 and the wheelbase was stretched 3 inches. Other drive train changes took place then as well, including the front axle becoming a full-floating Dana 30. In 1973, a new dash was used, with a single gauge in the center of the dash housing the speedometer, fuel and temp gauges. In 1976 the tub and frame were modified slightly from earlier versions. The frame went from an open channel to boxed in front of the rear axle, and the body tub became more rounded. The windshield frame and windshield angle were also changed, meaning that tops from 1955 to 1975 will not fit a 1976-1983 CJ-5 and vice-versa. For 1977, power disc brakes and the “Golden Eagle” package (which included a tachometer) were new options. An AM/FM radio became optional in 1981.

Jeep CJ-7 Golden Eagle 1977-1983 Identification


Came with a soft top or hard top option, Removable carpet, Radio, Moon roof for CJ7 Hardtops, Side steps, Power disc brakes, Power steering, Tachometer, 304ci V8, Air conditioning, and Golden eagle decals (massive golden eagle on the hood cannot miss it).

Identifying 1970-1983 CJ-7 Renegade


Has the same options as the Golden Eagle. The main difference was colors and interior. The renegade came with Levis’ denim interior.

1955-1971 Jeep CJ-6 1955-1971

CJ-6

The CJ-6 was simply a 20-inch (508 mm) longer-wheelbase (101 in, 1955-1971 – `04 in, 1972–1981) CJ-5. Introduced in 1955 as a 1956 model, the CJ-6 was never very popular in the United States. Most CJ6 models were sold to Sweden and South America.

Identify Jeep CJ-7, 1976-1986 Model Years


The Jeep CJ-7 featured a longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 and lacked the noticeable curvature of the doors previously seen on the CJ-5. To help improve vehicle handling and stability the rear section of the chassis stepped out to allow the road springs and dampers to be mounted closer to the outside of the body.

Identify Jeep Renegade 1976-1986


Equipped with a rear step bumper, cigar lighter, ashtray, air conditioning, tachometer, and rally clock, and sports steering wheel. The front seats have horizontal stitching. Usually the dead giveaway was the Renegade decals on the hood for the Jeep. They differ from year to year in style.

CJ-7 Golden Eagle 1976-1979 Identification


Came with a soft top or hard top option, Removable carpet, Radio, Moon roof for CJ7 Hardtops, Side steps, Power disc brakes, Power steering, Tachometer, 304ci V8, Air conditioning, and Golden eagle decals (massive golden eagle on the hood cannot miss it).

Jeep CJ-7 Laredo 1980-1986


Includes 15x 8” chrome wheels, chrome grille, front bumper, and rear bumpers. A swing-away spare tire in the rear with chrome latches, chrome mirrors, chrome hood latches, custom door panels, and limited decals and striping.

Identify the Jeep Jamboree Edition


To honor the 30th anniversary of the Jeepers Jamboree. On the exterior, all Jamborees came standard with Topaz Gold Metallic or Olympic White paint, Jamboree hood decal, chrome wheels and bumpers, black soft top, black rocker trim, and special spare tire cover.

Identify the CJ-8 (Scrambler) 1981-1984


The Jeep CJ-8 was a long wheel-base version of the CJ-7, introduced in 1981. It featured a 103-inch (2,616 mm) wheelbase and a removable half-cab, creating a small pick-up style box instead of utilizing a separate pickup bed. Many CJ-8’s were equipped with the “Scrambler” appearance package which included decal graphics and special wheels.