• JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

Restomod - Jeep Restoration

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 23, 2007 Comment (0)
Share this

There is a big difference between rebuilding and restoring a Jeep. Most of the older Jeeps found on these pages (and most other 4x4 magazines) have been rebuilt. That is, the process of taking something old and used and making it new again. The rebuilding process allows much more leeway because almost any component that fits and works can be used to make the vehicle stronger, faster, more nimble, or better able to perform specific off-road tasks.

Restoring, though, is a much more difficult job. In the process of making the vehicle like new again, it must also be as close as possible to when it originally exited the factory. A top-of-the-line restoration is referred to as museum-quality, meaning the restored vehicle is a replica of what originally appeared on a dealer's showroom floor. Museum-quality vehicles are rarely driven and are mostly for show in someone's collection. Many of us harbor a desire to own a CJ from our youth. This vehicle is one we can use in our daily driving and take off-road, yet it looks and feels like what we owned maybe 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. While possible, it takes time and mechanical skills along with money and the ability to do the research to learn exactly what the CJ looked like as it left the factory.

A few years ago I yearned to have a '67 CJ-5 exactly like the first brand-new CJ I ever owned. I located a '67 CJ-5 with a V-6 engine for $3,000. Not the 134 F-head I had, but that was OK. It was a '67 CJ in good condition, and due to living its life entirely in southern New Mexico, the Jeep had no rust damage. A thorough pre-purchase inspection of the vehicle revealed it drove fine and could track 80 mph on the freeway true and smooth. The engine ran properly and cool, just purring along (as well as the odd-fire Buick V-6 can purr, that is). The transmission and transfer case also checked out fine, as did the braking system. The gauges and speedometer didn't work, and the odometer had stopped at 50,000 which was probably the accurate mileage. It had about 500 pounds of steel junk welded and bolted all over as previous owners added what they deemed necessary to make it a tougher off-road 4x4. This had to go. I drove the Jeep for a couple of months while removing the non-original add-ons.

Unforeseen reality slowly began to erode my concept of happily driving a like-new, stock, original '60s CJ-5. It was a lot bigger than I had remembered and also more difficult to maneuver. Do you think that a few decades of driving with power steering, power brakes, and auto trannies had anything to do with altering my memory?

Another problem arose as I began the restoration process. The last CJs I had rebuilt were in the early 1980s. At that time, Jeep (owned by American Motors) was still producing the CJ-5 and parts were readily available. But by 2003 the early CJ product line had been dead for over 30 years, and parts were not located as quickly. Ironically, I discovered that parts for restoring the World War II Jeeps-the M38s and early flatfender CJs-were more readily available than for the CJ-5 line. Thus my process of restoring my '67 CJ-5 was nowhere as easy or cheap as I initially thought. But I eagerly began a restoration project that ended up taking over a year and costing over $11,000. Here are some good Internet and print sources that I used that will be helpful in completing your own accurate restoration.

PAY TO PLAY RESTO
{{{Jeep}}} purchase price
$3,000
Sand blast body and windshield frame
$545
Weld body holes, frame, prime, and paint body
$3,851
Electrical work and new gauges
$732
New seats and seat belts
$345
New gas tank
${{{90}}}
Seals, gaskets, and caulking
$147
Windshield rubber gasket
$37
Decals
$16
Weld fuel line connector to gas tank
$37
Floor mats
$7
Hose clamps, nuts, and bolts
$79
Miscellaneous replacement parts
$278
Paints and solvents
$101
Battery hold-down
$4
Seat bottom frames (which bolt to floor)
$175
Weld step brackets
$40
Remove trans, rebuild, and replace
$1,495
Transmission shipping
$134
Five new tires and rims
$514
Total rebuilding costs
$11,627

Useful Web sites for Jeep restoration information
* www.jeepsonly.com: Contains very useful links to a variety of Web sites on Jeeps.
* www.jeepbrokers.com: Information on Jeeps and Jeep parts for sale, but also has restoration tips
* www.g503.com: Mostly deals with World War II military Jeeps, but also covers early civvy stuff
* www.jeepz.com: A chat site for owners of Jeeps
* www.jeepnusa.com/militaryjeeps/: Has information and links on military Jeeps
* www.militarymanuals.com: Government manuals on military Jeeps.
* www.public.asu.edu/~grover/willys: Info on Willys trucks
* www.tomstj.com/jeep_web_sites.htm: Provides good links to other Jeep Web sites
* www.1st-on-auto.net: Excellent links to other Jeep Web sites. This may take some work because it contains many banners and ads, and you may have to click a few times to get where you want to be. The results can be worth the effort
* www.earlycj5.com: This was the Web site I used mostly in my restoration. It is both a technical site and a chat site for owners of the CJ-5. When I was stumped on where to get something or how to do something, I posted my query and received valuable responses.
Useful Books and Manuals For Restoring Vintage JeepsThere are three different types of books needed to have a complete restoration library: Jeep history, maintenance, and parts books. Books with excellent photos and descriptions are invaluable (especially if in color) to see the details of what the Jeeps looked like in their original forms. Maintenance or repair manuals are a must-have to understand how the older Jeeps were put together. A companion book is the parts manual for the Jeep being restored. This provides excellent details on how things are assembled (so you can take them apart) and provides outstanding pictures of what the parts look like.

Maintenance Manuals
* Any Chilton Repair Manual for the Jeep model being restored

The appropriate model Jeep
Factory Service Manual

* Reproductions are available at most businesses that sell Jeep parts or check www.ebay.com for used originals

The appropriate model
Jeep Parts List Book

* Or Jeep Universal Parts Catalog. Originals and reproductions are available

Jeep Service-Repair Handbook for Willys Model MB and Ford Model GPW
* Clymer Publications, 1971 and 1981. This book is out of print, but used copies may be available on eBay or Amazon.com. Reproduction military maintenance manuals are also available

Picture Books
* "Military Jeeps 1941-1945" by T. Richards, published by Brooklands Books (Motorbooks International) and not dated. A compilation of articles with black and white photos on the World War II Jeep written from 1942 through the mid-1980s
* "Hail To The Jeep" by A.W. Wells, published by Harper & Brothers in 1946. A history of the World War II Jeep with excellent black and white photos
* "The Jeep" by J.G. Jeudy and M. Tararine, published by VILO Inc. in 1981. A history of the World War II Jeep with hundreds of black and white and color photos
* "Off-Road Jeeps Civilian & Military 1944-1971" by T. Richards, published by Brooklands Books (Motorbooks International) and not dated. Another compilation of articles from '44-'78, mostly on the World War II Jeeps, but there are also CJs and post-World War II military vehicles. Excellent photos and drawings
* "The American Jeep" by K. Willinger and G. Gurney, published by Crown Publishers in 1983. Covers Jeeps from '41-'80 with 350 black and white illustrations
* "Jeep Color History" by S. Stratham, published by MBI Publishing in 1999. History of Jeep with over 100 excellent color and black and white photos
* "Jeep" by S. Stratham, published by MBI Publishing in 2001. A shorter history of Jeeps with over 100 color photos. This book is not a replica of the above book
* "Jeep" by J. Allen, published by MBI Publishing in 2002. This is a must-have for restorers. It's a reference book on all Jeeps made from '40-'99. It contains details, black and white photos, collector's information, specifications, serial number coding info, production data, and factory options
* "The Story of Jeep" by P.R. Foster, published by Krause Publications in 1998. A detailed history of Jeep with hundreds of black and white photos and 16 pages of color photos
* "Standard Catalog of Jeep 1940-2003" by P. Foster, published by Krause Publications in 2003. This book is another must-have for the restorer. It is divided by year and lists every Jeep made in that year with descriptions and details on each Jeep. Hundreds of photos, mostly in color

Two Must-Have Books For Restorers
Moses Ludel, former writer for Jp Magazine, has authored two companion books on how to restore the CJ Jeeps. The first book, "Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual 1946-1971" (Bently Publishers, 2004) has 561 pages and over 1,000 black and white photographs. There are two limitations to this book, but they are not seen as detractors but as editorial limitations to what the book could contain. The cover lists the Jeeps the book deals with: the military MB (but not the Ford GPW), M38, and M38A1. Within the book, scant reference is paid to the military components except for the note regarding which CJ engines are the same in the military Jeeps. There are differences in the electrical systems, the body, and the waterproofing systems that are not mentioned. The other limitation is the lack of information on the original body assemblies and accompanying hardware, such as seats, steering wheel, heater, and so on.

The second book, the 603-page "Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual 1972-1986" covers the CJ-5, -6, -7,and -8 Scrambler. The project Jeep for this book is an '86 CJ-7 with close to 2,000 black and white photos. The set up of this book is similar to the first, with each section devoted to a specific group of Jeeps.

For the restorer (or rebuilder) the book appropriate to the year of the Jeep being restored should be one of the primary references in his/her library.

Decals
*www.bearcreeksurvey.com: Best place to find CJ dash and tailgate original repro decals.

Parts and Manuals
* www.walcks4wd.com: This is the first place I go to locate parts. Carl knows almost everything about any older Jeeps, and he can provide most vintage parts needed for CJs and military Jeeps
* www.kaiserwillys.com: Another excellent source for vintage Jeep parts, CJs and military

Parts and Books
* www.4wd.com: While the company sells parts for most 4WD vehicles, it has a special catalog for '41-'75 vintage Jeeps, military and CJs
* www.jcw.com/jeep: Mostly aftermarket parts for current Wranglers, but does carry quite an assortment of parts for vintage military and CJ Jeeps

New and Used Parts
* www.jwjeeps.com: One of the best sources for used vintage Jeep parts. They also rebuild Jeep parts. Has many good Jeep Web links
* www.collinsbrosjeep.com: Sells used rebuilt Jeeps as well as new, used, and rebuilt Jeep parts

Comments

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Sponsored Content