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The square headlights tell even the beginner Jeep guru that this is an 87-95 Wrangler (YJ). Lower and wider than the CJs it replaced, YJs have leaf-sprung suspension and the availability of a fuel injected 4.0L engine, making these popular Jeeps.
It could be a CJ2A or a CJ3A, but if you cant see whether the rear axle is a Dana 41 or a Dana 44 dont commit to either model. The secret to never being wrong about Jeep identifying is to never give more information than you have to. You can call any Jeep with these picnic-table flat front fenders a flatfender or flattie and always be right. But to say any more would require you to know that the owner of this 49 CJ3A still had the one-piece windshield frame, with a functional front air vent, lying on the floor in his garage. By the way, extra points if you identified the flatfender in the background as a WWII-era GPW. Due to the small image we also would have accepted Willys MB since these two veterans are virtually identical at this distance.
For beginners it can often be hard to distinguish a CJ-5 from its longer CJ-7 brother if you dont see the two of them side by side. The round fenders and S-shaped door openings tell you its a CJ-5 99 percent of the time. This M38A1 is the one exception to that rule. These preCJ-5 military Jeeps built from 1952 to 1971 had a factory shackle reversal up front, a battery box built into the passenger-side cowl, and a glove compartment to the left of the steering wheel. The circular indent on the passenger side between the door and the fender is also an A1 giveaway. The hole was put there to mount a large electrical power outlet plug on some of these A1s, which were used as portable power sources.
Built from 1981 to 1986 the CJ-8 Scrambler has a 10-inch longer wheelbase that makes it a much better climber than the CJ-7 its based on. The CJ-8 shares most of the CJ-7s hardware and has the telltale square door openings (like the CJ-7) to tell you its not a CJ-6. In stock form these trucks have a massive rear overhang that drags over everything, but the bodies and frames are often bobbed like this to make excellent trail Jeeps.
What the heck is it? This CJ/Wrangler conglomerate shows how the Jeep family tree can often be a complicated genealogy to sort out. Parts interchangeability and owner modifications often create new vehicles that are difficult to classify. Clearly the front fenders are YJ Wrangler and the rear fender flares are too. But the CJ grille and hood, the passenger-side differential, and the fact that the suspension has been completely altered make this particular CJ/Wrangler a good test for anyone trying to flex their Jeep knowledge.
We know you want to be a Jeep Guru. The kind of guy that can spot any Jeep in any condition and know what year the body is, and even rattle off what year the windshield frame is from. The kind of person that takes pleasure in educating lesser Jeep-knowledgeable types about what is in fact a real military Jeep, and when someone has the wrong grille on his CJ. The trouble is that you cant tell a CJ from a TJ and youre too embarrassed to ask. What kind of Jeep Guru would you be if you had to ask? To save your Jeep ego we put together this field guide for younot that you need to read it. Of course not! No, you just want to make sure that we know what were talking about and didnt screw anything up.