The Jeep CJ7 is part of the company's CJ series -- the grandfather of the sport utility vehicle. The CJ originated as an all-purpose vehicle for the U.S. military during World War II; following the war, in 1945, it and went into civilian production, hence the name CJ (for Civilian Jeep). Willys-Overland produced the CJ from 1944 to 1953. Kaiser-Jeep followed through 1970, when the American Motors Corporation purchased Jeep. Chrysler bought Jeep in 1987, one year after the CJ7 ceased production.
When AMC took over Jeep in 1970, it sought to give the CJ series more versatility by making it larger, with more creature comforts, although even by 1970s standards, the CJ7 that debuted in 1973 was still spartan, and mostly a rough, off-road vehicle. Yet it featured a new automatic four-wheel drive system dubbed the Quadra-Trac and a new part-time two-speed transfer case. The CJ7 also featured a Dana 20/30 front axle and an AMC 20 rear axle.
Under the Hood
More than a few engines powered the Jeep CJ7 from 1976 to 1983. The CJ7 series featured seven power options over its long production run. The CJ7 came with the 160-horsepower 225-cubic-inch Dauntless V-6; the 82-horsepower 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder; AMC's 100-hosepower 232 and 150-horsepower 258 straight-sixes; and a 150-horsepower 305 V-8. The 258's horsepower rating dropped to as low as 110 following the 1970s fuel shortages. The CJ7 also came with the rarely used 2.4-liter Isuzu diesel four-cylinder. A 5-liter V-8 also powered the CJ7. It had an 8.4-to-1 compression ratio, developing 126 horsepower and 218 foot-pounds of torque.
Beginning in 1976, the CJ7 featured a TH400 three-speed automatic transmission, a T18 four-speed manual transmission or a T150 three-speed manual transmission. In 1980, the TF904 three-speed automatic transmission was mated to the 2.5-liter engines while the TF999 three-speed automatic was coupled to the 258 straight-six engines. A four-speed manual was standard equipment in post-1979 CJ7s. Beginning in 1982, the T5 five-speed manual became available in CJ7s.
The CJ series steadily grew in size over the decades, with the CJ7 being the largest of all CJ models. The early postwar CJ2A featured an 80-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 122.75 inches. Early CJ-5 versions through 1971 featured an 81-inch wheelbase, while the post-1971 CJ5s models' wheelbase grew by two inches to 83 inches. All CJ5s had an overall length of 139 inches. When the CJ7 arrived, the wheelbase grew to 93.3 inches, with an overall length of 148 inches. The CJ7 was considerably taller than the CJ5s, standing in 1979 at 67.7 inches, and was also wider, at 68.5 inches. The CJ7's fuel tank held 15.1 gallons of fuel.
The suspension system on the CJ series changed over the decades to reflect technological advances. The CJ2A featured front and rear rigid axles with leaf springs. The steering system was a worm-and-peg configuration. It rode on 16-inch wheels. The CJ5 and CJ7 models featured front and rear live axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs and a Saginaw recirculating ball steering system. All CJ models featured four-wheel drum brakes, although front discs were available on late CJ7 models. CJ5s and CJ7s also had 16-inch rims installed.
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