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Vintage 1980 AMC Jeep CJ-5: Diamond in the Rough Found at SEMA

Vintage Jeep CJ-5 found at SEMA in the PAKMULE booth #MTSEMA19

We first caught a glimpse of Kansas Sartin's 1980 AMC Jeep CJ-5 weaving its way through the crates and boxes of the Upper South Hall on setup day for the 2019 SEMA show. We attempted to follow this diamond in the rough, but our path was blocked in every direction by forklifts, booth paraphernalia, and vehicles in a hurry to get parked before the opening of the show. Did we really see what we thought we saw? Was it a figment of our imaginations, or perhaps a ghost? Two days later, hidden in a back corner of the hall, we found this little gem in the PAKMULE booth. Drawn like moths to flame we descended upon it, basking in its awesomeness.

"It ran when parked" is a phrase most prospective Jeep buyers sigh and roll their eyes at; such was the case here. Kansas was told that even though it looked rough under the hood, it was a runner. Armed with a new battery, some fresh fuel, and starting fluid he prepared to do battle. The 258 straight 6 cranked, fired, and purred like a cat that had cream for its supper. Sartin recently added a Holley Sniper EFI for reliability.

While on a hunting trip near Dripping Springs, Texas, several years ago, Kansas spotted this Jeep CJ-5 sitting in a lean-to, covered in dirt, dust, mildew, and assorted what-not. It caught his interest, and he spent the next nine months tracking down a family member of the late owner to see if he could purchase the Jeep. Further investigation revealed that the Jeep was once a recreational vehicle, used primarily for hunting around the large Texas ranch. It had 23,000 original miles, and Sartin would be the third owner of this little diamond. It was in great shape even though it had been neglected for years.

The interior is all original except for the seats, as they had been the home to many unknown critters over the years. The odometer the day we saw it read 26,978 miles. The Sartin family enjoys driving it around, and the 4,000 miles since purchase have been happy ones.
You can see that the undercarriage has been left as it was found; the humidity of central Texas has left its mark. The Dana 30 front axle houses 3.07 gears and has an open differential. Kansas replaced the worn out shocks and rebuilt the brakes all the way around.
Sartin did add a Detroit Locker to the AMC 20 rear axle, as he uses this vehicle during hunting season, and the Texas terrain can be unforgiving at times and a little assistance is required.
This little diamond wasn't babied during its lifetime. It has a few battle scars, but the paint and graphics are all original. The "Westerner" graphics package was specific to a few Texas oil country AMC/Jeep dealerships back in the late 70s and 80s. The vintage Warn/Belleview M6000 winch lends to the overall charm of this CJ.
When Kansas spotted the Jeep tucked under a lean-to on the ranch, it was covered in mildew, dirt, and who knows what. The soft top was stuffed down in the back of the Jeep, and there was no telling what condition it was in. The plastic in the windows has seen better days, but after some good scrubbing the original top was salvageable and in decent shape.
When purchased, the CJ had three factory white wheels and two mismatched ones. While cruising through town Sartin stopped at a tire shop to see what aftermarket wheels might look decent on his new Jeep. As luck would have it, they had two factory wheels that even had 1980 stamped on them. Talk about being at the right place at the right time.
Inspiration—on the back of Sartin's newly acquired Jeep was an old hitch rack that had been secured to the rollbar with steel cables to keep it from wobbling back and forth. This started the gears in Sartin's mind to turning and his PAKMULE hitch rack line was born. See? Jeeps really do make life better!

HARD FACTS

Vehicle: 1980 AMC Jeep CJ-5
Engine: 258 straight 6
Transmission: T-176 4-speed manual
Transfer Case: Dana 300
Suspension: Stock, added new shocks
Axles: (front) open Dana 30, 3.07 gears (rear) AMC 20, 3.07 gears, Detroit Locker
Tires & Wheels: 30x9.50x15 BFG KM2 on factory white steel wheels

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