History of the Jeep Wrangler (1940-2010)

1976 Jeep CJ7
The “new” CJ-7 debuted 1976, in what was the start of a 10-year run. The CJ-7 has a longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 to accommodate an optional automatic transmission. Between 1981 and 1986, Jeep made a long-wheelbase CJ-8 pickup called the Scrambler, derived from the CJ-7.

In 1987, the CJ-7 was replaced with the YJ, better known the Wrangler. It was the only Wrangler generation to feature rectangular headlights. There were three different engine options that included a 2.0L, a 4.0L and a 4.2L as well as four different transmission options. It had a solid 10-year shelf-life, and later Wrangler models were more or less variations of the theme set by the YJ. Somewhere along the way, Chrysler bought out AMC and retained the Jeep brand as well as its models.

The next Wrangler, known as the TJ, debuted in 1997, bringing back the classic round headlights, while adding comparatively-modern features such as dual airbags, a redesigned interior, and an all-new “Quadra-Coil” suspension instead of leaf-springs. It was offered with three different engines, including a 2.4L, a 4.0L, and a 2.5L motor. The TJ got some minor upgrades in 2003, at which point the Rubicon edition joined the line-up. The Rubicon featured D44 axles front and rear with manual air-lockers, a NV241J “RockTrac” transfer case with a 4:1 low range, rear disc brakes instead of drums, and diamond plate rocker guards. Another addition to the TJ line was a new 4-speed automatic transmission to replace the previous 3-speed version. At the start of the millenium, Chrysler merged with Mercedes-Benz to become DaimlerChrysler, but Jeep thankfully remained unaffected.

In 2004, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited debuted, internally known as the LJ. The LJ was based on the existing TJ platform, but featured a 104-inch wheelbase for increased cargo room. Standard features on the LJ included the 4.0L inline-6 engine and a D44 rear axle. The LJ eventually came with either a new 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. The new 6-speed manual, which only debuted in 2005, also became available on the regular TJ. In 2005 Jeep added a Rubicon edition of the LJ as well as an “upscale” Limited model with a chrome grille.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited KJ

The KJ is designation for the newest Wrangler yet, debuting as a 2007 model. Instead of just a soft-top and a hard-top two-door version, the KJ now features two-door and four-door models, all with a hard-top roof that can be removed and stored as separate panels. The four-door is called the Unlimited, while the Rubicon comes as a two-door model. The current engine is a 3.6L V6 with either a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. By the time it was launched, Chrysler was an independent company again, under the ownership of investment firm Cerberus until its bankruptcy in 2009.

The Wrangler is one of few vehicles that have stood the test of time. While many considered the Wrangler strictly as an off-road type vehicle in the past, it is now trying to appeal to a wider range of consumers, while also attempting to retain the capabilities that made it a legend in the first place.

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One Comment

  • Kiersten
    April 26, 2011 | Permalink |

    needs some prices so you can compare prices from 1940 and 2011

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