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A New 1976 Jeep J-20 - Catching Up (with Katie)

I Wasn't Even Looking For One

Levi JansmaPhotographerKatie JansmaWriter

For the past month or so, I have been looking for a Dana 60 front for my CJ-7. I did what we all do and got on Craigslist. Now that is a bad place. I repeat, that is a bad place! You will come home with random things!

In my search for the Dana 60, I found an ad for a ’76 J-20 truck. I end up looking at the ad, knowing it isn’t what I need, but it was pretty sick looking. I emailed a friend that knows his way around Jeep trucks and asked some questions to make sure it was a good deal (thank you, John Cappa). I then texted the owner and went to look at it the next day. It was on the way to my family’s house, so why not stop and look at the Jeep truck? This J-20 is rolling on the old 40-inch Goodyear MT/Rs with Walker Evans beadlocks. It has a spring-over conversion up front and lift blocks in the rear. The engine is the 360ci V-8 the factory put in it with a T-18 four-speed behind that.

A little back-story is needed. I used to own a ‘71 Jeep Wagoneer with the 350ci Buick engine and TH400. I’ve always had a thing for that FSJ. It was a dumb move to get rid of it, so you can say there is a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for fullsize Jeeps. Back to the J-20, it’s a running truck, so that’s a huge plus. Did I say how it’s really not what I needed?

It still has a carburetor on it, but it has been upgraded to a Holley. I believe it is a 390-cfm two-barrel but haven’t looked at it that closely just yet. OK, I really don’t know a lot about carburetors. I hated them enough I just switched my CJ over to fuel injection so I didn’t have to mess with the spitting and sputtering anymore.

After seeing this truck in person, I couldn’t walk away from it. I kept thinking what if he doesn’t sell it and the owner just crushes the poor gal. The wheels and tires alone were worth the purchase price. They’ll look good on the CJ too. Funny how we justify giving our money away.

As of right now, I have no plans on what to do with it. I really want to just leave it alone and have it as a trail rig for when I’m in the mood for something different than the JK or CJ-7. Regardless, it just looks awesome sitting in my driveway. If I do anything to it, I will be upgrading small things that it may need. Like fixing up the reserve gas tank someone thought they needed, so it doesn’t leak fuel every time you fill her up. I’m sure the gas stations don’t like it when the truck marks its territory, claiming each pump that feeds it. Hell, my bank account doesn’t like it!