Why the Jeep CJ-7 isn’t as red hot as the Bronco and Blazer

1981 Jeep CJ-7 passenger 3/4 front

If you’ve been paying attention the collector car market over the past couple of years, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jeeps of all kinds are among the hottest vehicles out there. Trucks and SUVs, particularly the classic two-door 4x4 variety, moved from a virtual commodity to a desirable collector vehicle. Jeep’s CJ-7 is cut from the same cloth, and its value improved about 15 percent in the last two years. So the CJ-7 is holding strong, but why hasn’t it seen the same stratospheric surge as two-door SUVs like Broncos and Blazers?

Similar to its CJ-5 predecessor, the CJ-7 featured a longer wheelbase that allowed for a more square-bottom door, making it easy to differentiate between the two. Full hard doors were available and the extra length improved on-road performance and made it a viable four-passenger vehicle without sacrificing much trail maneuverability. It was just the right size for many buyers, who often customized them for better off-road performance, and it helped Jeep double sales during the model’s 11-year run leading into the Wrangler’s arrival in 1987.

Climbing values

1977 Jeep CJ-7 side profile
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1977 Jeep CJ-7

The average #2 condition value of all CJ-7 models is up 78 percent between 2010 and 2018, climbing from $9100 to $16,200. The most valuable CJ is the 1977-1980 CJ-7 Golden Eagle 4x4 with the 150-hp, 304-cubic-inch V-8 engine. The #2-condition (Excellent) value is $18,200, which increased 15.2 percent since September 2016. On average, CJ-7s are up in value 14.7 percent over that same time period.

Crossing the block at auction

1981 Jeep CJ-7 rear 3/4
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1981 Jeep CJ-7

The number of CJ-7s coming to auction peaked from March of 2016 to March of 2017, where 115 crossed the auction block. Just 88 have come to auction over the last twelve months yet the sales haven’t cooled down. For 2018, the average sale price was $12,743, nearly identical to 2017’s average sale price of $12,776. The most expensive CJ-7 we have seen come to auction was a 1981 Jeep CJ-7 Laredo that sold for $45,100 in 2017, while the second most expensive was another Laredo in 2012. The five-year spread between two top sales shows minimal change to the pristine CJ-7s market.

Why the slow burn?

1977 Jeep CJ-7 front 3/4 passenger
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1977 Jeep CJ-7

CJ-7s were in production for 11 model years from 1976-1986, and they have always been cool and desirable for a portion of the market. Because of that, there isn’t a sudden “I need this” spike that Ford Broncos are suddenly experiencing. Familiar style, rather than novelty style, is another reason CJ-7s might not be taking off quite as quickly. Vintage trucks and SUVs have a boxy, rugged style to them that you don’t see anymore in new or lightly used examples, but Jeeps more are less look the same as they did decades ago. You can still go out and buy a new Wrangler that on a basic level resembles an old CJ.

Interest in Jeep CJ-7s is steady and prices continue to slowly rise, but the peak appears to have been in 2016 and 2017, when there was a particularly high volume of transactions. Don’t expect prices to jump too much as long as the new models of Wrangler remain a capable, everyday off-roader.