1. home
  2. news
  3. features
  4. Buying an Early CJ-5

Buying an Early CJ-5

A used and abused pile of parts

About a year ago I bought this basket case early 1962 CJ-5. I can't recommend you do what I did, 'cause this thing is rough, but know that if I could do it again today, I'd buy this Jeep just the same. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have a Jeep and old 4x4 hoarding problem. I can justify it (in an unhealthy manner) because I work for the Four Wheeler network and thus need some fodder to create content. But I also definitely get an endorphin rush from looking at and owning what I think are cool old parts.

The truth is the early CJ-5 that is the focus of this article has been used in several tech articles on FourWheeler.com. In this article I added some flatfender rear springs to the front of this 1962 CJ-5. Here is another article related to the last one, where I showed how I made some high-clearance leaf spring U-bolt plates.

The truth is the Jeep has been parked while I get to a more time-sensitive project build you'll hear more about soon, related to Ultimate Adventure, but I have some more cool ideas for this Jeep. A Jeep most would have had the good sense to have not bought. Here's the story of buying this well-used early CJ-5.

Buying the 1962 CJ-5 and a Video of the L-Head Running

I'd seen this Jeep for sale on the internet, and it was just odd enough that it caught my eye. It had clearly been used heavily and had some pretty epic patina. and rust, bad rust. But it also had a few visual cues that made me want to explore more about what it was. At the time, I messaged the seller, and at that time, he wanted too much for this basket case. But it still had some unusual parts that I'd noticed, and I was willing to bet that would throw other buyers off. For one, the engine was wrong. This Jeep should have a 134ci flathead four-cylinder, but it didn't. it clearly had an earlier 134ci Go Devil L-head four-cylinder. That's weird. Why would anyone swap back to an older engine? Still, as a purveyor of early Jeep parts, it's always nice to have an extra L-head around especially one that supposedly ran. Second, the Jeep clearly had four-shifters and a PTO shifter for a total of five. The Jeep also had a PTO driven winch. That tells me that the Jeep probably not only has an Overdrive (like a Warn, Huskey, or Saturn OD) but also probably has the rare and expensive bits to make a PTO drive connect through the overdrive to the back of the transfer case.

From there I was interested and kept in touch with the seller until he realized he wasn't going to make a mint off this particular old Jeep. With that and probably after about a year of being in contact with the seller, I was headed down, across town ('cause it seems like everything good is always for sale at the geographical opposite of where I live) with some cash, a camera, and a trailer. $600 later, here is what I got.

Amazingly there is no rust under the hat channel below the A-pillar. No seats—that's a bummer. And a huge crack in the body to match the huge crack in the frame below it.
Bit of a dent on the left. I can fix that. Draw bar, check, what's left of two taillights, and what is that on the tailgate?
Right side and rear corner has some Bondo in it. That's sub ideal but a challenge we can overcome. And do I see "4 Wheel Drive" on the tailgate? Three 16-inch wheels and one 15
This is a Koenig power take-off (PTO) driven winch, and it's all there. Someone even used one of the grille slats as a winch hook mount.
Locking hubs from an IH. That's weird cool, but weird. These are factory IH locking hubs made by Warn.
It's a Jeep!
There's the L-head that shouldn't be there. It turns over and supposedly ran a year or so ago according to the seller. He said he drove it, but it didn't have any brakes. That helped cause the damage to the left rear corner.
Someone converted the L-head to 12-volt or retained the 12-volt when they regressed to the earlier engine.
Don't remember the shift pattern? Use a pencil and write it on the dash!
Oof—that was a hard hit. This is supposedly when the seller found out the brakes didn't work while trying to drive the CJ-5 off the trailer when he got the Jeep.
Are you supposed to be able to see through the floor? No. I should have walked away. The floor was lined with a piece of particle board that had become a micro-environment for moisture retention and thus rust.
An artifact from a past hunting trip.
Some early version of Mole? I don't know what this was for, but it looks functional.
This brown mass is dirt and oil that has aged to a brownie-like crust over the PTO and overdrive, so it's impossible to tell what model OD the Jeep has.
The HUGE crack in the frame and very dubious "repair" that someone (who shouldn't have) made. Walk away, Verne, walk away.
That's a copper 45-degree plumbing elbow that has been repurposed as the entirety of the exhaust system on this Jeep. It's a custom turn-down. Nice.
The silhouette of what might be the original stencil of the "4 Wheel Drive" from the CJ-5s tailgate. That's cool in our deranged opinion.
That's one of the motor mounts cobbled together with lug nuts and washers as spacers so the L-head engine would fit.
The Jeep didn't have a windshield frame when we bought it, but because we are good at Jeep parts hoarding, we had one that nearly matches the Jeep perfectly!
Evidence shows that someone blew up the coil at some point in the past. Bam!