What Makes the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 A Worthy Purchase

Jeep Scrambler cj-8

Everybody knows the Wrangler as the Blue Jeans of 4*4s. However, the truth is that it would only have existed with the Jeep Scrambler. Being a prototype for Jeep’s sport-utility vehicles, the CJ-8 was released in 1981. Unfortunately, it came with a lot of misunderstanding, despite joining hands with history and the future of the Jeep lineup. 

Moreover, the whole riding community considers the Jeep Scrambler as the forefather of the Wrangler. Being a sport-utility, it is highly versatile and capable. This hybrid machine, combining a long-wheelbase CJ-7 and a pickup truck, came with rustic appeal and quirky styling, suitable for outdoor fun in the 1980s.

Did people buy the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 like a hotcake? Unfortunately, it was not the case. Even former US President Ronald Reagan convinced people of the benefits and worth of the wheeler. Ironically, it has become a top-most priority of people in recent years. What is the reason? Is it because there are not many Scramblers in the market? Or is it because its owners are becoming more knowledgeable? Let’s find out the answers to these questions.

A Cursory Glance at the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8

Jeep Scrambler

The machine was 12th in the number of Jeep CJ models that Kaiser-Jeep, Willys-Overland, and American Motors Corporation produced between 1944 and 1986. These models were open-bodied, small, semi-4WD off-road vehicles with trademark circular headlights, fold-flat windshields, and flared fenders. These incarnations were commercial versions of the 2ND World War Military MB Jeep intender for civilian and agricultural use. That is why CJ is a short form for Civilian Jeep. However, it does not have an agrijeep plaque fixed to its dash like CJ-2 or other CJ models

Paving the way for the CJ-5 and CJ-6 models, it first came into the market on March 25, 1981. Furthermore, it was an attempt by the AMC to join the ranks of Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler. The latter was already giving tough competition to the compact models of the Japanese automakers. Meanwhile, Jeep only had CJ-7s, too short to gain a name in the fast-growing segment.

What Comes With The Jeep CJ-8 1981? Specifications

Vehicle Type2-passenger, 2-door pickup, rear/4-wheel-drive, front-engine
Displacement151 inches, 2470 cm
Engine Typepushrod 8-valve inline-4, iron block and head, 1*2-bbl carburation
Transmission4-speed manual
Torque125 lb-ft 2600 rpm
Dimensionswheelbase: 103.5 inches, length: 177.3 inches, height: 69.2 inches, width: 68.5 inches, curb weight: 2950 lb, passenger volume: 50 ft
Performance60 mph: 17.0 sec. ¼-mile: 20.5 sec
Top speed75 mph
Fuel economyEPA estimated: 22 mpg
Power86 hp 4000 rpm

Speed Is Not A Priority

Jeep Scrambler

This jeep is built for asphalt. This means that many traditionalists don’t find much value in off-road vehicles that do not perform well in off-roading. However, it does not mean you cannot use this model for non-traditionalist conditions. But it is not its true purpose. An inline-4 engine with an iron head and block powers this machine. When it comes to power, it has a maximum of 86 at 4000 rpm, according to the drive and car. For torque, it achieves 125 lb-ft at 2600 rpm. A 4-speed manual transmission delivers all this to the wheels.

Moreover, the 1981 Jeep reaches from 0 to 60 in 17 seconds, varying from the test conducted by the driver and car. Besides, it can accelerate a quarter-mile in 20.5 seconds. And 75 miles per hour is the top speed of this beast. Likewise, its fuel economy is also economical because it achieves an estimated 22 miles per gallon. And its tank can hold 15.5 gallons.

Symbol Of A Smooth Ride

Jeep Scrambler Seats

Jeep Scrambler’s worth comes from the smooth ride it ensures. Just like any other vehicle, it provides a comfortable and smooth experience for users. However, this has been different. For instance, the CJ-7 and CJ-5 were notorious for this stiff ride that was also responsible for their stellar fuel economy. But the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 changed everything as far as a smooth ride is concerned. The longer wheel chassis of this powerful model is responsible for its smooth ride. But it is surprising and unfortunate that this model could not get as much success as it was intended. The reason is that its mother company invested a lot of thought in its design process. Not only did it come with new changes, but it also ensured that the Jeep still married a standard jeep.

Fighting The “Big Three”

Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler

In spite of joining the league of compact pickup trucks a decade late, the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8 gave tough competition to the big three, Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler. In addition to being highly reputable and challenging, this jeep was also the first American compact pickup truck. But some may need more than these details. Further, this off-road vehicle was local-made. AMC still had to tackle increasingly stricter emissions controls. This means that it could not go all out with development costs or use unibody construction to lower some weight to optimize its fuel consumption.

Eventually, the company did realize it could upgrade the CJ-7’s existing frame. And it did, which birthed the only roadster-cum-convertible pickup truck in the 1980s.

How Much to Pay: Price

Jeep Scrambler

Its price ranged from $7288 to $7588 for open-bodied models. While for hardtop versions, it costs a little over $8300. But this price tag does not include getting an SL, SR, or sport package, which could cost around $1000 on top of the base price of the wheeler.

Considering everything, it would have cost at least $21933 if sold today. Moreover, used scramblers are being sold for $21995-$9500 in North America, Australia, and Europe, with an average resale price of $25400.

Jeep CJ Series Standout Models

  • Jeep CJ-5 Tuxedo Park
  • Jeep CJ-5 Renegade
  • Levi’s Package
  • CJ-5 and CJ-7 Golden Eagle
  • 1982 Jeep Scrambler SR Sport Edition
  • 1982 Jeep Scrambler SL Sport Edition

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Our Verdict

The CJ-8 made approximately 1.9% of the combined sale of its mother company during its 43 years lifespan. It means less than 28000 units were made between 1981 and 1986. The reason is very few could understand the true worth of this beast that could serve as a trustworthy workhorse and withstand tough riding conditions. Ironically, people realized its actual value after the company halted its production. This encouraging reception continues till today. As a happy ending, the Scrambler receives the reverence and appreciation it deserves. However, it does not have an “agrijeep” plaque fixed to its dash like CJ-2 or other CJ models

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