Early Iron Addict
Everybody loves an old Jeep. We mean everybody. Want proof? Go park a lifted, blinged-out TJ in a conspicuous location and then put a ratty, plain flatfender next to it. Twice as many people will go nose around and stick their heads under the flattie as even glance at the TJ.
With this magnetic draw, you'd think vintage Jeep projects would fetch a premium price. After all, a basket case '55-'57 Chevy will set you back at least $5,000. And any '40s car or '60s Mustang can't be had in rolling condition for less than $2,000. So your days of picking up $500 Jeep projects must be over, right? Wrong.
You can still find killer deals on vintage Toledo tin if you know where to look, where not to look, what to look out for, and what to avoid. Although the main thrust of this story is about CJs, the same principles hold true for Jeepsters, wagons, and pickups. Now get out there and score a vintage Jeep project before they all get turned into soda cans in the next cash for clunkers fiasco.
Tips of the Trade
We get this a lot. "How do you guys score such killer deals?" Well, it's not always what you know, as how prepared you may be. A vintage Jeep project is rarely going to be road-worthy, may need some work to even get it on a trailer, and sometimes requires some creative financing to beat out other potential buyers. Here are some tips to help make sure you're the one toting home that next lump of greasy iron.
1. Have a trailer and tow rig ready to go. It's helpful if you have a winch on your trailer or at least have a Hi-Lift jack you can use to help you load a non-running vehicle. If it's down to you and your trailer or another potential buyer with no way of removing the project Jeep, guess who the owner is going to cut the better deal?
2. If you don't have a trailer, make sure your AAA or other towing membership is in good order and the company you're hiring can pick up your new purchase for you.
3. If you're serious about buying, keep your cash handy. Hide it in your house or somewhere safe in case that killer deal pops up when the banks are closed. Having your cash at hand also helps ensure you're the first one to the prize.
4. Bring along a compressor or Powertank to air up flat tires, a selection of hand tools, some lube spray, and whatever else you may need to loosen seized brake shoes, reaffix steering components, or inflate flat tires so you can move and/or drive your new pile away.
5. Be flexible. This can mean anything from meeting the seller after their 2nd shift job lets them off work after midnight or being willing to take away extra junk parts. However, more often than not it means conceding certain parts of sentimental value that the seller may not want to let go of, such as vanity plates, shift knobs, or even seats, wheels, or other trinkets.
Where to Shop
You can scour your local paper for decades and won't see even a fraction of the goodies available through some of these sites. If you're looking for vintage tin, check these avenues first.
Local newspaper (rarely, but it does happen)
Hemmings Motor News
Any back alley, yard, gas station, or barn you happen to spot a 7- or 9-slat grille poking out of. Don't be afraid to stop and ask. Everything is for sale at the right price.