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1946-1986 Jeep CJ

Jeep CJ Collectors

When the Jeep CJ stopped production in the mid-1980s, Jeep CJ enthusiasts everywhere mourned. Los Angeles Jeep dealer John Walker even launched a "Keep the Jeep" campaign in the belief that there were enough die-hards to pressure AMC into reviving the Jeep CJ the way some cola drinkers forced the return of "old" Coke.

But AMC was dubious. As a company spokesman said, "I don't think there's much hope."

1942 jeep mb
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This restored 1942 MB reflects the dedication of Jeep collectors.

Regardless of the outcome, Jeep CJs will always be around because their dedicated owners tend to keep them forever. And oddly enough, that's one reason sales have never been that high.

Laments Placentia, California, Jeep dealer Brian Chuchua: "There's no repeat business. With the old Jeepers, the vehicle is theirs for life." He watches owners rebuild their Jeep CJs constantly. And because they're relatively simple vehicles, it's entirely possible to keep doing that almost indefinitely.

Yet that same rugged simplicity is probably as much to blame as safety concerns for the Jeep CJ's dwindling sales in its last years. Competitors like Blazer and Bronco had become more civilized, comfortable, and thus better suited for all-around use, while the CJ hardly changed at all, still more at home on the dunes or a mountain trail than the freeway.

The proliferation of CJ creature comforts in the early 1970s suggests AMC itself recognized a shift in buyer tastes. As one AMC spokesperson confided: "People don't use these vehicles offroad nearly as much as they used to."

1962 jeep cj
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1962 Jeep CJ remains popular with collectors.

Then, too, would-be CJ buyers could now choose from a whole slew of compact 4WD pickups, a breed that hadn't existed 10 years earlier, offering greater comfort and similar go-anywhere ability for the same or less money.

And let's not forget the impact of inflation and government-mandated safety and emissions equipment over the years, not to mention a flood of well-made, low-cost Japanese 4WDs.

Yet for all its faults, there's still nothing like a Jeep CJ, and its unique character will probably never be duplicated. This largely accounts for the CJ's growing status as a cult collectible.

Which to choose among the many variations? For performance-minded Chuchua, it's no contest: "The best CJ ever built was the 1972 through 1976 with the V-8 and [full-time] Quad-Trac [4WD]." He notes the automatic models are more tractable offroad and thus easier to drive, and he likes the V-8's power.

Collectors might also consider the low-production Scrambler pickup of the early 1980s, perhaps the most versatile CJ of all. Whichever Jeep CJ you choose to collect, you will surely take care of it as well as it takes care of you.

The Jeep CJ's popularity over the years led to several variations of the vehicle. The next page outlines some of them

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