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1979 Jeep CJ-7 Renegade - Jeep Encyclopedia

Posted in Features on December 29, 2014
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The 1970s was a growing-up period for Jeep. After AMC bought the company in 1970, they instituted a lot of changes and most were positive ones. The brand-wide “enginectomy” to install AMC engines in all Jeeps was done by 1972 with positive results. The AMC marketing department was doing a good job of putting the Jeep name more into the mainstream as the 4x4 became more popular in American recreation.

By 1979, Jeep was well into the lurid graphics that seemed to mark the 1970s styles. Some were memorable. Some have required sizable amounts of adult beverages to forget. Most people think the Renegade package was one of the more memorable ones. It debuted for the ’70 model year as a limited-production SSO (Special Sales Order) package still outfitted as the Kaiser-Jeep folks had decreed and built in very small numbers through ’71.

If this Jeep still had its original soft top and doors, they would have been in blue Denim to match the seats. The CJ-7 was most often purchased as a hardtop, and when so equipped, they came with the optional 4,150-pound GVW package and a front stabilizer bar (optional when not included). A soft top came standard, as this one did, with the 3,750-pound GVW. The swing-away carrier was an option for regular CJs but was included with this package. The back seat and 2-inch-diameter, 11-gauge rollbar were also included with the Renegade package. In CJs that didn’t have the rear seat, a lockable storage box was optional. The CJ-7 offered a decent amount of space for the two rear seat passengers.

After the across-the-board Jeep engine transplants, the new ’72 CJs debuted with the Renegade model still on the list (still a SSO) but this time fit with the AMC V-8 and restyled by the AMC “make-it-purty” dudes. At that time, the SSO Renegade package included some useful “go” options, including the aforementioned V-8, a rear limited slip, 3.73:1 axle ratios, skidplates, rollbar, and alloy wheels with H-78-15 Polyglas tires with an attractive, sporty paint and decal scheme. It was a popular and desired option, but there wasn’t enough to supply demand. The Renegade became a RPO (Regular Production Order) option in ’74 so that production and sales could be increased. When that happened, many of the more functional options left the package, and it became primarily a paint and decal affair to which you could add any functional items you wanted. At extra cost, of course!

The 304 was a great and popular option in the years it was available. Even stock, it was just the right amount of power and torque for a CJ. The two-barrel 304 made 150 net horsepower and 245 net lb-ft of torque with an 8.4:1 compression ratio. Power steering was part of the V-8 package, but the original owner didn’t order power brakes or air conditioning. A Tremec T-150 backs up the V-8 in front of a Dana 20 transfer case. AMC also used their Model 20 rear axles in this era, and this Jeep is so equipped.

For ’79, the Renegade package had changed its stripes considerably from the earlier years and was available on both the CJ-5 and the new CJ-7, the latter having debuted for the ’76 model year. The available colors changed to reflect, well, the ’70s. Fourteen colors were available for the ’79 model year, with either blue or orange Renegade stripe and a blue or tan Denim interior.

Included with the 1979 Renegade package were the Denim-covered front bucket and rear bench seats, 8-inch white-spoked wheels mounting L-78-15 Goodyear Tracker all-terrain tires, a sport steering wheel, roll bar, swing-away spare tire carrier, wheel lip extensions, rocker panel molding, courtesy lights, and a few other goodies.

The Denim interior, also commonly known as the Levi’s Package, was an à-la-carte option for the regular CJ but included with the Renegade. Carpets could be grey or black with the blue Denim. A center console was an option, and it could double as a cooler. The Convenience Group was included with the Renegade and included interior courtesy lights, an underhood light, and an 8-inch day/night rearview mirror. The Décor Group was also included with the Renegade and included the sport steering wheel, color matched dash pad, and black instrument panel overlay. This Jeep was not ordered with the optional AM radio.

Once you checked off the Renegade box on the CJ-7 order sheet, you had to decide on a 258ci inline-six (the base engine) or the 304ci V-8. From there, you had the option of a standard 3-speed manual (T-150), 4-speed manual (T-18), or 3-speed automatic (GM TH400). The automatic came only with Quadra-Trac (’79 was the last year for it in CJs, as it was also the last year for the TH400), and 3.54 axle gears were standard with no options for the V-8, but with the inline-six, you could order 3.07s.

This immaculate CJ-7 was once in the vast collection of Jeeps owned by Dennis Collins, of Collins Bros. Jeep. It was only showing 41,700 actual miles at the time these pictures were shot and was still wearing its original paint and interior.

Resplendent in Mandarin Orange (paint code 9W) and the blue Renegade stripes (orange was the other option), this ’79 CJ-7 Renegade rolled off the line in October of 1978 as a soft top equipped with the 304ci V-8, T-150 3-speed and power steering. Collins added the correctly color-keyed hardtop and doors, painted to match. This was one of 55,624 CJ-7s built for ’79.


Collins Bros Jeep

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