|Vehicle:||1980 Jeep CJ-5 Wrangler Renegade|
|Number Produced:||14,156 (1980)|
|Original List Price:||$6,195 (1980)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$150|
|Chassis Number Location:||Driver’s side dash|
|Engine Number Location:||Stamped number on block deck|
|Alternatives:||1969–72 Chevrolet Blazer, 1966–77 Ford Bronco, 1971–80 International Harvester Scout II|
|Investment Grade:||1969–72 Chevrolet Blazer, 1966–77 Ford Bronco, 1971–80 International Harvester Scout II|
This car, Lot 1129, sold for $18,000, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America’s sale in Auburn, IN, on May 8, 2015.
The universal cool
The bearded Dos Equis beer guy, better known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” most likely doesn’t drive much, but when he does, he probably drives an old Jeep — and for good reason. What other form of four-wheeled transportation is as universally appealing as it is functional — one as equally at home cruising the local high-school parking lot, commuting to the office, or scouting along dusty forest roads?
If we look to movies and television as a barometer for coolness and utility, Jeeps, the CJ-5 and 7 in particular, must be the automotive equivalent of Kevin Bacon — think Six Degrees of CJ. They’re sexy enough for Daisy Duke and Barbie, durable enough for Jurassic Park, the A-Team, and bad guys everywhere, but also approachable and endearing enough for Gumby and the “Cars” movies.
Perhaps the most telling tribute to the classic Jeeps’ character is that there really is no stereotypical Jeep owner in terms of age, gender, bank account or social status — a fact not to be idly dismissed.
Of course, the argument could be made that the open-air Jeeps are fairly worthless if you value such nonsense as practicality, but I’ve never heard of anyone saying, “Hey, you know, that Steve McQueen sure was a practical guy.”
Sure, CJs are cold in the winter, hot in the summer, leaky and foggy when it rains, and plodding and wandering on asphalt. They’re neither as comfortable as a car nor as dutiful as a truck. But so what? There’s something empowering about staring down the daily commute with the reckless abandon we so often forfeit on our path through adulthood, and few experiences can evoke youthful vigor like blasting down a side street with no roof over your head or doors to keep you safe. And yes, Mr. McQueen had a chrome roll-barred CJ-5 of his own.
Off-road for everyone
The first civilian Jeeps hit the U.S. consumer market under the Willys moniker around the close of World War II. They were updated only incrementally over the next decade. The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation then acquired the Willys-Overland Corporation in 1953, and immediately began exerting their influence.
The CJ-5 was the result of the new leadership’s vision, and debuted on October 11, 1954. With a stretched wheelbase and a somewhat softer, more stylish visage, the newest CJ proved more comfortable, capable, and versatile than its predecessors.
Over the next 30 years of production — the longest ever production run for any Jeep vehicle — the CJ-5 evolved slowly, with the most dramatic updates being found under the hood. The “Dauntless” Buick 225-ci V6 was introduced in 1965, and nearly doubled the output of the standard-issue four. Following the sale of Kaiser Industries to AMC in 1970, the CJs picked up a few more inches in the hood and wheelbase to accommodate two more cylinders in the form of AMC-built 304 and 360 V8s.
In 1976, the CJ-7 was introduced to the public, and represented the most significant Jeep update in two decades. The wheelbase was again stretched to provide enough wiggle room to cram an automatic transmission between the front seats, and, for the first time, a cozy little hard top was made available to improve the Jeep’s all-weather capabilities and broaden its daily-driver appeal. However, it took nearly a decade for the CJ-7 to kill off its older sibling — a testament to the durability, simplicity and lovability of the 5.
Easy and hard to find
To be honest, the market has, in my opinion, gone a little bonkers for four-wheel-drives in the past few years, and, strangely enough, the 4x4s don’t seem to be held to the same quality standard we impart on cars of similar vintage.
Toyota FJs and early Ford Broncos are perfect examples of simple, quality machines that have skyrocketed in value over the past decade, but whose average sale price appears little affected by fit, finish or originality.
I’m as much a sucker for giant mud tires and hood scoops as the next guy, but I don’t expect to pay a premium for them simply because old four-bys are suddenly the latest infatuation for the newly initiated. And I think that’s why I like this CJ so much.
When evaluating older four-wheel-drive vehicles, it’s important to keep in mind that most were purchased and used — shockingly — for actually working off paved roads. As such, many, if not most, bear the bumps, bruises and blisters of a lifetime of utility. Old Jeeps seem even more inclined than most to carry the ravages of the elements simply because they are, by design, so much more exposed. As a result, finding a nice, mostly original example is more difficult than the 30-year production run would suggest.
According to the ACC Pocket Price Guide, CJ-5s should fall somewhere between about $8k and $15k, and I don’t expect those numbers to fluctuate significantly in the coming years for a couple of reasons: First, there are a lot of Jeeps out there, even if the really good ones are thinner on the ground. They’re easy to fix, and they’re desirable without the element of fanaticism that can so easily turn a market on its head.
Simple, rugged and fun is probably the best way to describe an old CJ, and this particular example fits that description to a tee. Although it sold for a tick over our high estimate, the price paid is still reasonable. I love the period paint and graphics, which are just old enough and ugly enough to be cool again, and the likelihood of finding a similarly unmolested and complete example is slim to none. I’ll call it a great deal for both parties all day long.
(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.