In the latter stages of World War II, Willys, an American automobile manufacturing company, considered designing a Jeep for the civilian market. As a result, the CJ or Civilian Jeep was born in 1942. Thirty-two years and numerous versions later, the Jeep CJ-7 was finally introduced in 1976. It was far more suitable for “civilian” use compared to the previous models. Although it lasted only for 11 years, the CJ-7 still remains an American classic that has paved the way for the popular Jeep Wrangler model.
1976 – 1979: Changing the look for the civilian market
The Jeep CJ-7 was redesigned and had a frame that was fully boxed and widened that increased the vehicle’s stability and strength. This was the distinction it had compared to its predecessors. It also had a longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 model. Other modifications on the CJ-7 were the position of the leaf springs, and the addition of anti-sway bars and a steering stabilizer.
The CJ-7 came with a standard 232ci 6-cylinder engine, but it can be upgraded to a 304ci 5.0 liter or a 258ci 4.2L inline 6-cylinder engine. The transmission system for the vehicle was a standard heavy duty Borg Warner T-150, 3-speed transmission. An optional upgrade was a Borg Warner T-18, 4-speed transmission.
1980 – 1982: Taking the vehicle from the off-road to the street
A lot of changes happened to the Jeep CJ-7 that started in 1980. The former engine was replaced by the GM 151ci 4-cylinder engine. A 5.0L V8 engine came as an optional upgrade, but it was discontinued only a year later. The Borg Warner transmission system was still used, but the Tremec T-176 and SR4 4-speed transmission systems were introduced. These systems were designed for street driving, a deviation from the off-road style of the vehicle. Also in 1980, the CJ-7’s Dana Model 20 transfer case low range of 2.03:1 was replaced by the Dana Model 300 which had a deeper low range of 2.62:1. A diesel-powered engine had been manufactured between 1980 and 1982. At that time, the vehicles produced were also for export.