Okay, so I've bought it. Now what?

Made a rather impulsive purchase and now must decide how to proceed

4w ago



I have long had a quiet admiration for the full size Jeep product line that likely kept AMC afloat for most of it's run in the US Market. I spent many hours perusing the auto classifieds looking for a worthy contender to satisfy the odd craving, but found prices and states of repair incompatible with my budget. Rather unexpectedly, a friend of mine was served a warning by his local municipality that he had too many inoperable vehicles on his property and had a 30 day window to fix, register, or sell as many as possibly of his vehicles to avoid massive fines. He is a confessed automotive hoarder with an obsession with Jeep products. More to help him get out of his jam than anything else, I ended up offering to buy his 1987 Grand Wagoneer. Well, long story short, I now am the proud, and somewhat nervous owner of a largely oxidized example of the breed. It is in quite a state of disrepair, so I have quite a long road ahead of me.

The State of Affairs

Basically, on an impulse, I purchased a barely running, very rusty full sized jeep with 150,000 miles long distance to help a friend avoid a fine, and now it is sitting in my mother's garage back in the USA.

I might be an idiot. However, I do believe that if you make your bed, you must lie in it. Let's get a list together of what I know is wrong with it at present:

1. It only has front brakes. (the lines for the back have rusted through)

2. All of the body mounts are shot

3. The driver side floor pan, and both rear floor pans are rusted through to the carpet

4. The fuel tank support and skid plate has a very large rust hole in it

5. the carburetor needs a good rebuild and tune

6. The rocker panels are rusted through

7. the tires are 13 years old

8. The carpet is trashed in the back hatch area

9. The driver's seat needs a slight structural repair to be fully upright

10. The Gauges are all dead

11. The headliner is MIA

12. I doubt the shocks have survived the 10+ years of sitting in a field in Ohio

Positives include the fact that it does run and drive. My friend got it running smooth, and fixed the front brakes so that it stops. The AMC 360 is not exactly a power house, but seems to be in good working order. I have more than a year before I return to the states to tackle this project, which means I have a good, long window to brainstorm some interesting modifications or improvements to attack on top of the necessary repairs to make this beast road worthy.

So now what?

I have a very limited level of experience with these old full size Jeeps. I have a few ideas of what I might want to do to it when I return stateside and can get to wrenching. What I am curious about though, is what some of the Drivetribe community might suggest as to what I might do with it. I am looking into EFI, Hydroboost for the brakes, and XJ window regulators to fix some of the known faults (i'm looking at you Motorcraft ignition), but am open to suggestion. What might you do in my shoes. I look forward to your ideas.

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Comments (15)

  • Do not want to bring down your spirit but if you can sell it, please do. Its a lot of work and probably not worth the time get something in little good condition and do improvements on that. I like project car when they are fun not stress.

      28 days ago
    • I appreciate the advice, but I actually want the difficulty of this project. I am a mechanic and have CNC experience. Anyone can fix up a nice, low rust example of a car and improve it. I want to bring something back nearly from the grave and then...

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        28 days ago
    • GOOD LUCK😃👍 and keep posting your progress.

        27 days ago
  • All cars have voids in their bodies that has scale rust so using a rust conversion “go to a professional auto paint store” will deactivate the rust and it turns into a harder surface. Another company that has a large selection of rust products is Eastwood.com, I used theirs and was satisfied. I would also suggest getting as much as you can media blasted that will take everything down to metal and show everything. If you have body rust cut off as much as you can or replace the panels, I found if you need parts look in Arizona or California they have almost no rust or if you must Keystone or other aftermarket body parts are available but requires more time. Hopefully this helps and good luck I miss doing this stuff.

      14 days ago
  • Love these, definitely pull the engine and transmission neither is expensive to have rebuilt and adding fuel injection / electric ignition will make it like a modern engine. The transmission might be better off being replaced with a 4 speed automatic. The rust is the first area to get done and don’t skimp! Almost everything is available for these so parts won’t be an issue you can get the wood grain and molding online and probably the seats. Carpet kits are available also, if you sand and paint the interior surfaces that will save you a ton. The vinyl paint can be matched 100 percent I would get DuPont color made in vinyl the make 3 shades. Have fun I am jealous.

      17 days ago
    • Thanks for the excellent advice Steve. I am planning to rebuild the engine and transmission as you suggested. I think I will try to live with the 727 first and see if I like it. If it doesn't live up to expectations, I'm pretty sure there is a kit...

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        17 days ago
    • One suggestion when you repair the rust spray rust converter in all the hollow parts “there are a ton” then use a good undercover / rust preventive product. I was in the industry for 30 years and can only say: spend a little more money and time...

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        15 days ago
  • If the engine runs, but barely, I would suggest pulling it completely. Only because if it has head gasket leaks or any issues that are hard to get to, you would basically want to do it anyway. And of course when it’s out, you can paint it that pretty blue (I think they were blue) and dress that section up really nicely.

    As for me, if there is structural rust, this project might want to be avoided. That being said, as ugly as rocker rust and corner rust is, I would leave that until the end just so you know that you can actually get this thing in a working condition for the road. All in all though, you are going to have some fun!

      24 days ago
    • I appreciate the insight. The guy I bought it from is a Jeep fanatic. He assured me that the frame and all the structural components of the body are intact. The things that have rusted through are the thin sheet metal parts like floor pans,...

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        17 days ago