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1970 Jeep CJ-5 Project Prospect

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I have found a 1970 CJ 5 with V6 Dauntless motor. I know very little about this beauty except that it's 3 hours away (141 miles one way) and the owner has restored Jeeps and Bikes. Of course being from Northern New York it had some bad body work done on it before the present owner got a hold of it. The engine needs some work and I'm sure some cleaning. Owner suggests a new carb. 


By saying I know little about this Jeep is because I have owned one Jeep before this. It was a Cherokee that if I remember correctly was a 1985. I still have some OEM\NOS parts for this Cherokee. The only other experience before that was an old Willys pickup, year unknown, that was the first vehicle I ever drove at age 12. I really didn't do much with either because there wasn't much to do with a L4 Cherokee at the time I owned mine, and I really couldn't play with the Willys.


I want to do something of this kind with my soon to be 16 year old daughter who may inherit it in the future. Maybe I've been watching too many car shows. Is this a good candidate for restoration or slight customization? I also know where there is a 1962 Willys pickup that I want to do myself, but it's really a hulk. Help!


Oh, I passed up on a 1981 CJ 7 last week that the owner kinda exaggerated about, or got ripped off on so called repairs, and was trying to get $2500.00 for. I know what I'm looking at, so I don't mind work as long as I'll have something to be proud of when I'm done.

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BadDriver4x4...I teethed on the late Kaiser-Jeep CJs, taking my first driver's exam in a one-year-old 1964 CJ-5 with the F-head four.  My folks bought the Jeep with the 134 four, there was no Dauntless 225 Buick V-6 available yet in '64...The 225 revolutionized the CJ Jeep.


The vintage CJ lifestyle ultimately led to a career that involved Jeep.  I am the author of three Jeep-related books (Bentley Publishers), including the best-selling Jeep Owner's Bible.  If you do get the 1970 Jeep CJ for restoration, I heartily recommend my Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual: 1946-71.  If you opt for a '72-'86 CJ, consider the popular Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual: 1972-86.  Either book would see you through the major mechanical restoration of your project with your daughter.  On that note, you're a great Dad.  Daughters, as well as sons, can benefit greatly from learning automotive repair and restoration work.


1970 sounds "old" but actually has some decent features.  The Ross cam-and-lever steering systems were the weak link through 1971.  Many convert the earlier CJs to Saginaw manual or power gears, and Advance Adapters has offered a conversion kit for decades.  Beyond that, the powertrain is rugged but a bit long in the tooth.  The Spicer Model 18 transfer case offers stamina but is also a less efficient "side drive" design that requires a rear axle center member offset.  The brakes for V-6 models in 1970 are adequate (far better than vintage 9" brakes found on four-cylinder models!); the master cylinder is a mandatory dual-type for safety.  The front axle is still a closed knuckle design, arguably more prone to service needs.  If you consider this Jeep, carefully inspect the front axle housing's spherical ends.  A chewed up ball end can require axle housing replacement. 


The 3-speed transmission is not stellar, though it will hold up if rebuilt or in top condition.  A T98A truck type four-speed was very rare in V-6 models, so this one likely has a 3-speed.  The rear axle is great, a Spicer 44 type.


Unfortunately, you have the three hour drive to inspect or consider this vehicle's condition, and most vintage Jeep buys are driven by nostalgia.  I've fully restored several of these postwar flatfender and CJ-5/6 type vehicles.  You must be motivated, as the likely wear on a 45 year old vehicle is considerable.  Rust is a whole other story, but being a New Yorker, you've likely been down that path or know others who have.  The rust issue is expensive and involves time-consuming body work.  I was extremely fortunate to find my '55 CJ-5 at northern Nevada.  It had decades old "surface rust" on bare spots that could be easily removed with light sanding!  No rust perforation.  Bare sheet metal at Upstate New York would be a completely different picture.


It really comes down to the degree of work required on any project Jeep you find, how much patience you and your daughter have for restoration work, and the cost of parts.  With the 1970 model, there would also be a degree of difficulty in finding some of the parts, although Jeep popularity has sustained and encouraged an aftermarket around these models.  I would also add that a 1970 CJ-5 is only 81" wheelbase with a relatively narrow track width and higher center of gravity.  This is a safety concern for a new driver, or for that matter, any driver.  These vehicles require attention and finesse when driving icy or slippery roads of any kind.  They will swap ends easily if overcorrected in a skid, or worse yet, flip over.  Obviously, many of these vehicles managed to stay on their wheels, but as a fellow father and in my case grandfather, too, I feel obligated to share this point.  Your daughter would need to "learn" how to safely drive a short-wheelbase, high C.G. vehicle and 4-wheel drive system.  The popularity of the AMC/Jeep CJ-7 and Scrambler is in part due to their more stable driving habits.  The later CJ-7s of the '80s are "wide track" axles with a 94-inch wheelbase.  Park one alongside the vintage CJ-5, the difference is quite obvious.


If the 1970 Jeep CJ-5 were closer to your home, I would be very pleased to review photos.  I'd like to see the steering system, axles, transfer case and drivelines, the 225 engine's originality and overall vehicle originality, which transmission it has, the tub condition and rust prospects, the electrical/wiring condition and the radiator.  These are fundamental areas on any Jeep.  Even later models can be worn out.  As with any used vehicle, the issue is always "history".  The more facts and validation of history you have, the less daunting a "Dauntless" restoration project will be!



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Mr Ludel, I'm glad I asked the question. I will continue to look for a CJ 7 although I think I could handle the CJ 5 my daughter would have a hard time. You may have noticed I currently own a Ford F250 Super Duty with Turbo Diesel that she loves, not that she gets to drive it other than to move it to mow the lawn. There was another CJ 7 that I wanted to look at for a better price than the '81 I passed up, but they said it could only be driven in 2wd because of a problem with the front and rear differential not being matched? It must have sold quickly because my three emails to them didn't get a response.


It seems as though maybe a newer model might be a better choice, but I want something that has seen the passing of time and made it to this point despite the odds. I guess what she wants may be the right thing for her although I have notice vehicles like the Jeep Liberty seem to have major problems with the engines. The newer Jeeps aren't my cup of tea so one for both of us that she can learn on and have one to drive maybe if the price is right. a Little hard work never hurt anyone.

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BadDriver4x4...Just a thought: a Jeep XJ Cherokee 4x4. Target the 1991-99 models, they're very affordable . Our '99 was a $5600 private party purchase in 2005 with 94K miles (stone stock at the time) on the odometer. It's now at 156K and singing right along!

The aftermarket has jumped heavily into this model. I installed a 6-inch long arm lift kit, ARB Air Lockers and 4.10 gears with 33" diameter tires and alloy wheels. Bumpers and a winch round it out. The Jeep will go anywhere the CJ/YJ/TJ models can. It is very easy to drive. (My wife insists that it's her daily driver and to not abuse it!) There's considerable utility, these vehicles are easy to work on (comparatively), and parts costs are ridiculously low: $23 for a new Bendix replacement rotor. This is due to the mass production numbers of over 2.8M between 1984-2001. Production numbers by year:

1984 - 93,326

1985 - 120,328

1986 - 107,225

1987 - 139,295

1988 - 187,136

1989 - 207,216

1990 - 151,230

1991 - 151,578

1992 - 137,826

1993 - 144,961

1994 - 123,391

1995 - 120,234

1996 - 286,463

1997 - 258,958

1998 - 182,845

1999 - 186,116

2000 - 165,590

2001 - 120,454

Total = 2,884,172

The 4.0L XJ Cherokee 4x4 is "bulletproof" and only vulnerable to rust. That would be a consideration in your neck of the woods. If you consider a unibody XJ Cherokee, be certain the main undercarriage is intact and free of rust! The XJs have a tremendous following, and your daughter would be very popular with a nicely outfitted XJ Cherokee. (Is that an asset or liability?) The XJ Cherokee drives very well and has a respectable 101.4" wheelbase to keep the vehicle going straight. With a lift, the off-road capability and break-over angle rival any of the Jeep utility models. Not designed for "extreme" wheeling, though some do it, but very tractable and stable.

Go to the magazine site and search for "XJ Cherokee". You'll see mine. It's also the photo at the forum header! My favorite years are '98-'99 for overall best content, though any '91-up would be a great value. '87-'90 is okay with the Renix 4.0L, a bit older for technology and EFI parts availability.


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Mr Ludel,


There are a few considerations for making the choice of a CJ 5 or CJ 7 over a newer Jeep. The first is the lack of computer controls on the vehicle. The second is the pure attraction to the older vehicles. The third is the simplicity of the older vehicles. I have owned a Jeep XJ and at the time I owned mine they were making nothing for them as far as performance parts and upgrades. Of course I also had a 4 cyl, so what was there to do with it?


I would happily buy my daughter a Cherokee with a 4.0L engine, and there are a few to be found in my area, but the rockers are usually gone, and there is more than enough other damage to make them a real mess to get into shape for Vermont inspection. Then there is also miles of wiring and bad door hinges, and the list goes on. I'm not looking for a going from good to performance vehicle, the big upgrades can wait until she can own it, I'm looking to give her an experience that will rival what I could have done in the late 70s and early 80s if I'd only had the know how and the current technologies.


There is a seat for every butt and butt for every seat, and I guess I want her to experience the cars she'll never be able to get when she gets to be my age. They'll either have rusted to pieces or they'll be in a collection somewhere gathering dust.


Being prepared in case of a man made catastrophe is also a good idea. The less electronics the better. We'll see how things go. Any comment on the 1962 Willys pickup? It's hard to find information on those, so I'm thinking about buying your Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual, 1946-1971: Mechanical Restoration, Unit Repair and Overhaul, Performance Upgrades for Jeep CJ-2A, CJ-3A, CJ-3B, CJ-5 and CJ-6 and MB, M38, and M38A1.


I'm hoping there will be enough crossover in the models to make some good decisions, as the Willys may be my project. I may end up building a lot of things for this pickup that I might have to get original dimensions to fabricate.


Thanks again. 



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BadDriver4x4...I do understand your premises and did not consider the rust issue in your area.  As for the 1962 Willys Pickup, that's a possibility.  The Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual will indeed prove useful for many points, especially front axle, transfer case and the transmission rebuild.  Even the Ross cam-and-lever steering gear gets close attention in the book.  Brakes are basic on the pickup as is the Super Hurricane 226 inline six, a very sensible L-head design with four-main bearings.  Adequate, even for secondary highways, though not an interstate cruiser.


The bed is all metal, the cab is respectably stout, the sheet metal gauge may even survive your region.  The restorative work would entail the usual needs of a vintage car or truck.  The 230 OHC engine was used in the very last iterations of this model, the '62 should have an L-head engine, and that's desirable over the OHC design.  Glass is flat and easy to address.  The seat is basic.  There's really nothing daunting about this model's service or restoration. 


I would caution that there are inherently weak links like the Ross cam-and-lever steering gear that often gets tossed in favor of a more modern Saginaw manual or power gear.  An Advance Adapters conversion kit is available.  I have rebuilt many Ross gears, quality parts are getting very difficult to source, especially the lever arm.  Offshore replica parts are no match for OE or U.S. replacement parts that have vanished.  Electrics will be 12-volt, a plus, still a generator, lots of vintage lessons in store!


You'd like the truck as a "driver" and fun vehicle if your driving venues are not demanding.  There were some F-head four-cylinder 134 Pickup applications, they aren't as fun and have highly restrictive power.  The model you seek should have the right equipment.  4x4 is a must, there were 2WD versions.


Post photos of your find!



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I got your book today. Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual 1946 to 1971. Amazon has pretty good turn around. I am hesitant to post pictures from Craig's List so I will only post two of the Willys Pickup although I may not actually own it at any time in the future. It has some questionable frame patches, and It really needs a lot of work, definitely a frame off job.



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BadDriver4x4...This is a definite "project"!  My book will be useful for this Pickup or any of the vintage Jeep 4x4 models covered.  The only oddity on these Willys Pickup trucks is the rear axle with its center split housing.  I can furnish rear axle details if you need them...


 If your daughter will be driving soon, you better move on this one, it will be frame-off for some time!  Actually, the visible frame patches are a major concern.  A truck or Jeep utility project must start out with a decent frame.  Enough that this body has perforation rust.


Let's find one more intact and restorable...Do you want me to keep an eye open in the rust-free high desert country out West?  Vehicles fare much better here.  As a favor, I evaluated a restored Willys 4WD Pickup a few months ago that is now in the Omix-ADA collection.  It came from Bridgeport, CA and had only minor surface rust after decades in that semi-arid climate.  The body and frame "restoration" amounted to minor metal work, new rubber seals and a prep and paint job.  Of course, there was considerable other work performed, which you'll enjoy seeing in the PDF photos below.


This 1955 Willys 4WD Pickup will be on display in the Omix-ADA booth area at the SEMA Show, Las Vegas in a few weeks...Here are my photos from that impartial evaluation: 


1955 Willys 4x4 Pickup Photos.pdf


In earnest, if you'd like me to keep an eye out for a truck worth restoring, please say so.  I'll watch the local ads at Reno/Sparks and northern Nevada...Will put out some feelers, too!  This 95% restored truck did sell for a tidy sum, but you can find starter restoration material for much less...



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Mr Ludel,


I have read the introduction to your book, and like you the first car I ever drove, at 12 no less, was an old Willys pickup that my father and I did extensive although uniformed work to. I'm not sure what year that Willys was, but we had to build a wooden bed for it, and rivet patch the floor. My father's idea of home body repair was was tar and rivets through a partially shaped piece of sheet metal. There are a couple of Willys advertised a little further south, and even a few at my cousin's junk yard that might have unmolested frames, even though I know one of the frames would need work.


If I had a lot of extra money lying around I would take you up on your offer, but I am going to try to get whatever project I buy through to completion with as little outside work as I possibly can. That is why I was hopeful for the CJ 5, it only had 21,017 .? miles on it. Here's some pictures that were posted on Craig's List. 


More were added since the last time I saw them. I wish I could find one in a barn that's been hiding since the 1980s. I'd be on it fast. I just can't handle a lot of travel right now. If I can somehow get to this one is it one that shouldn't be passed up?




Allen (BadDriver4x4)


P.S. Love the Willys truck in the picture you linked to.








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Wow, BadDriver4x4, this one is a timepiece!  The V-6 is a good option.  Much to start with here. 

Are you good with rust?  The tub is hurting badly with perforation rust.  Beyond the rust, there's a lot of "originality" here.  Looks like the build was in Canada, there's even history around that point.  Does the engine run?  Is the Jeep "drivable"?  Gears okay?

What's the price of admission for this Jeep CJ-5?  If you can get it for $800 or less, you would have a place to start.  $1000-$1200 would be too much considering the rust damage.  Some would regard this as a parts donor, though I believe there's much more here if you can handle the sheet metal restoration.


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I'm probably better at rust than I was 30+ years ago. I have more welding training and experience than I had then, not to mention equipment. Here is what the current owner has to say about the condition.

"1970 Jeep CJ-5, Original 20,000 miles. What I have is a 1970 Jeep CJ-5 that was last on the road in 1980. It is in need of some restoration. The frame is rock solid and it has the Buick Odd Fire Dauntless V-6 with a 3 speed manual stick.
 Still has the original tires and even has the original footman steps which I have never seen still on a Jeep of this vintage. It had sat in a barn for a number of years at a camp in Saranac Lake. The story that I got which would appear to be true is that a young person found it in the barn and began a really half ass restoration on it. It was the original 1970 Teal Green and got a spray can job to black. There is some really bad Bondo work on it but it doesn't appear to be that much. The top that I assume the last owner put on is pretty much shot. I have restored a number of Jeeps and you can see some pix of the 1971 CJ-5 that was my last resto. When I saw this Jeep, I had to grab it because of the potential and the fact that the frame was solid as a rock. I have been holding on to it with plans to restore it but back issues delayed my starting the project. I now know I am facing a 3 level fusion so I'm pretty confident a restoration of this CJ won't be happening. It has the usual issues with floors which are easily replaced with aftermarket. The last owner replaced the clutch and it looks like he did it from inside the vehicle and messed up the bell housing pan which is part of the floor. I had it running briefly but didn't want to get any more bad gas in it and it was rough, however compression was all good so no doubt a carb rebuild or a new one better yet, fuel pump, new plugs etc.. It is a really nice and not that difficult a restoration. This is the last of the true Kaisers as AMC bought them in 1971 but couldn't really change the Kaiser design as they were already built. It is also the last of the side saddle gas tanks. To find a Jeep like this in New York is almost impossible. There is no registration but with patience you can get one from DMV. I have a hunch that this is not going to require a frame off resto but I just haven't been over it enough to be sure. It's a shame that some knucklehead can sprayed it black and tore up the floors but it is still perfect restoration material. The Dauntless V-6 was one of the best engines ever made. I would like to get $ 1,000.00 for it which is $ 300.00 less than I paid but will listen to best offers."

I could get it for a little more than $800.00 if I can go to him. I offered him more if he would bring it to me, but so far he has declined to answer. He also posted a picture of one of his restorations.


LakeClear Restoration_001.jpg

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That looks like a pretty daunting project, but it certainly has some historical significance.  I was lucky enough to be living pretty close to Moses when I was shopping for my CJ.  I bought what I considered to be a daily driver at the time.  It turned into a frame off restoration.  I will say that there is very little good reason to leave the tub on the frame if you have the space to store it.  I had a local body shop do the paint on my CJ-7, and getting the tub out of the garage and off the frame was huge. Sitting on a frame rail sanding parts that are now at waist height in front of me was infinitely preferable to trying to work on things lying on my back!

Though my Jeep is of a different vintage, I think I can offer some things to think about that apply regardless of model year.

1. Take what you think your restoration will cost and multiply by 1.5 if you think you have all the tools you need, or 2.0 if you think you'll need to buy some things. If money is a big issue, break out an Excel spreadsheet and go "shopping" on Amazon or Quadratec, etc.  You can start getting a good sense of how much things will add up to.  The nice thing is this only costs your time, so you can start that before ever committing to a purchase.

2. Invest in a stainless hardware kit.  I got mine from Totally Stainless.  I bought all new hinges and other accessories, much of which came with it's own hardware, so there were many pieces of the stainless kit I knew I wouldn't need.  I called the folks at Totally Stainless and they built me a custom quote without the stuff I didn't need.  That probably saved me $75 from the price of a kit.  Don't forget to use anti-sieze with the stainless to prevent galling.  In Vermont, some day you (or someone else) will appreciate not wrestling with rusty hardware.

3. Take hundreds of pictures.  This will be handy given you have a second pair of hands to help.  I tore down my Jeep and had it back together and running again in just a few months.  I think most restorations don't go that fast, and there were still things I would never have gotten reassembled without pictures to refer to. 

4. Consider a new wiring harness.  I wanted a Painless harness, but I couldn't afford the price of admission.  I ended up getting one from Centech for about half.  They will customize a harness if you call.  I have a Cherokee 4.0L in my CJ-7, and they customized the engine harness to deal with my non-native engine.  They didn't charge me for the custom work--I did spend a few bucks to buy their upgraded fuse panel.  In the end, I think I got a better product than Painless anyway.  Centech uses a firewall connector that isn't the same design as stock, which is actually a huge upgrade.

5. Decide if you are aiming for a stock restoration, or a restomod.  I went with the latter.  The previous owner really made the decision for me when they dropped in the fuel injected 4.0L engine.  I continued the trend of upgrading things I thought enhanced safety or utility. For example:

1. New LED tail lights, they look like stock, but are actually visible more than 2 car lengths away in daylight.

2. Double diaphragm brake booster and master cylinder.  My Jeep has oversize tires, and the braking was underwhelming.  I'm sure there's someone out there who could tell you how to switch to some kind of power brake setup or otherwise upgrade that system.

3. Upgraded steering shaft. Again, the original Jeep design was never great, and I couldn't see putting outdated technology back on when the better option was just a bit more.

4. Rhino liner.  This is obviously personal preference, but I managed to find a nearly rust free CJ that had lived in the Central Valley in CA for years.  I knoew I was moving to Memphis, TN, and I couldn't stand the thought of letting that nearly pristine body rust away.  That was another driver for doing a frame off.  I wanted to somehow protect the underside of the tub, and I was really wary of slapping on a half-hearted coat of rubber undercoating.  I ended up having the same body shop Rhino Line the under side of the tub, the fenders, the firewall and the interior of the tub.  I'm running with no carpet.  It's a bit louder than stock, but that's like comparing a jet engine to a freight train.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any other questions.  I just finished (ha!) the process, so most of it is still fresh in my mind. I already have it back on jackstands getting new differential gears this weekend.

Good luck with your search!







DSC_0005 copy.jpg

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60Bubba has a practical and hands-on view of the restoration needs...Thanks, Case!  The Jeep would benefit from a frame-off restoration, and removing the tub actually makes other work much easier...$800 is a very reasonable place to start, the parts are worth far more than that amount...


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