A History of the Wrangler – Old Jeeps for Sale

Old Jeeps for Sale
The Wrangler is a legendary and iconic vehicle that you can take on adventures in any kind of terrain.

An Overview of the Jeep Wrangler and Where to Find One

The Jeep Wrangler is a vehicle with an incredibly storied history. Though the Wrangler first began production in 1986, the design is based off of classic WWII Jeep. From there, the Jeep CJ was born, and served as the flagship vehicle for the brand for many years. The Wrangler takes nearly all its design cues from the CJ, and you could look at it as the natural progression of a vehicle that has been around for nearly 80 years. Despite having been around for so long, the Wrangler remains one of the most iconic and popular SUVs available today. If you’re shopping around for your next SUV, we humbly recommend taking a look at the Jeep Wrangler, especially if you love custom vehicles. Check out our inventory today to find the right one.

There are so many reasons the Wrangler has proven such a popular choice for drivers over the years. It offers excellent performance capabilities, handles like a dream, and is incredibly customizable. The only real limit to the look and feel of your Wrangler is your own imagination, as well as having the right team to bring your vision to reality. Ultimate Rides is the best place to find old Jeeps for sale, offering custom Wranglers in addition to opening up our custom shop to customers so we can modify their vehicles for them. Whatever it is you want done, we can make it happen.

The lineage of the Wrangler can be directly traced all the way back to the all-terrain vehicles used by the Allies in World War II. That’s quite the storied history, and something to be proud of.

Origins of the Jeep Wrangler

As we briefly mentioned previously, the Wrangler has roots that go way back to WWII. Only one quick look at the WWII era off-road vehicles and you’ll see the direct resemblance to even the Wrangler of today. After WWII, the Jeep CJ, or civilian Jeep, was released to the public, and that model was available in various iterations from 1945 to 1986 with the release of the Wrangler. With the Wrangler, Jeep took the best elements of both the CJ and their at-the-time newly redesigned Cherokee, and put them together to create something entirely new. Over the years, the Wrangler has gone through a number of different so-called “generations,” each one bringing something new to the table compared to the last. The first generation Wrangler, released as a part of the 1987 model year, is known as the YJ.

Generation One: The YJ

When Jeep decided that their classic CJ vehicle needed an upgrade, the result was the Jeep Wrangler, and the SUV landscape would never be the same again. The YJ was produced from 1986 through 1995, and introduced the square headlights that immediately made the vehicle stand out from the competition. Some of the primary differences between the Jeep CJ, which was in its seventh generation by the time it was discontinued, and the Wrangler YJ include slightly less ground clearance, improved safety features and handling, and a wider track, making it more appealing to on-road drivers.

Despite that, it remains an excellent vehicle for off-road adventures as well, especially when you begin customizing the vehicle with additional features like a full suspension lift kit or some larger all-terrain tires. The addition of anti-roll bars and trackbar suspension links made the vehicle much harder to flip, which was known to be an issue with the old CJ. New trim levels would get rolled out for the Wrangler over its first years, and would offer drivers features like off-road gas shock absorbers, a locking glove box, a larger capacity fuel tank and more. Though Jeep would make significant changes and improvements in later years as technology would continue to advance, the original Wrangler remains a standout vehicle to this day, and an important part of automotive history.

You might recognize the Wrangler from some prominent Hollywood movies. Be sure to note the square headlights that show this is a first gen Wrangler.

Jeep Wrangler YJ Engine and Transmission Specifications

Upon introduction, the Wrangler came outfitted standard with a 2.5L AMC 150 I4 engine, with the option to upgrade to a 4.2L AMC 258 I6 engine. The standard AMC 150 engine would see upgrades over the years that would improve its horsepower from 105 upon its debut to 120, but it still paled in comparison to the mightier AMC 258. The 258 was produced by AMC from 1971 through 1990 and could be found in many different AMC and Jeep vehicles. Before receiving an upgrade in 1990, this engine could produce 112 horsepower at 3200 rpm, and featured OHV valve configuration and a compression ratio of 9.2:1.

For the 1991 model year, the Wrangler received the potential for an engine upgrade when the 258 was replaced with the popular 4.0L AMC engine. This engine had been implemented in the Jeep Cherokee a few years before, and it was a massive upgrade for Wrangler lovers who cared about performance. This engine offered a maximum of 180 horsepower at 4750 rpm, 220 lb./ft. of torque at 4000 rpm, and featured cast iron engine blocks and cylinder heads. For our money, this is the engine to go with when searching for old Jeeps for sale.

Do you prefer a soft top or a hard top for your Wrangler? Let us know at Ultimate Rides and we can help you find the perfect old Jeeps for sale.

Depending on which engine you chose and which model year you’re working with, there are a few different transmission offerings that you may have access to. Upon the vehicle’s debut, the standard 2.5L I4 engine was paired with a five-speed AX-5 manual transmission. If you owned a Wrangler with the AMC 258 I6 engine, you could have access to either a five-speed BA-10 manual transmission or a three-speed A999 automatic transmission. Two years after being introduced, Jeep also gave drivers the ability to opt for the improved five-speed AX-15 manual transmission.

More transmission options were introduced over the final years of the first Wrangler generation, including the three-speed 30RH(A904) automatic and 32RH(A999) automatic, but it was became clear that the vehicle was in need of a major redesign. In 1996, Jeep introduced its next generation Wrangler: the TJ.

With the first major redesign, Jeep decided to do away with the square headlights, but we’ll always remember the look of that first generation of Wrangler.

Generation Two Overview: The Wrangler TJ

With the 1997 model year, Jeep debuted their first big Wrangler redesign, and with it introduced some major changes. Instead of featuring leaf spring suspension, the Wrangler TJ used front and rear coil-spring suspension. This improved comfort and handling in the vehicle, and was a huge step forward for the vehicle. There were also a few major changes made to the Wrangler over the course of this second generation, such as introducing the Unlimited variant in 2004, with a longer wheel base. Both soft tops and hard tops were still available, and some minor cosmetic changes such as the material of the side mirrors were altered over the years.

The Wrangler TJ was produced for about a decade before it was replaced with the following generation, but it still has plenty of fans to this day. While the first gen Wrangler took away some of the amazing off-road capabilities of the CJ, the TJ made off-roading easy once again. When looking for old Jeeps for sale, the Wrangler TJ is one of the most valuable finds out there. There are an abundance of trim levels and configurations out there for drivers, and that means there’s sure to be something to love for all different kinds of drivers.

The TJ was also the first generation to introduce the Rubicon trim level to the Wrangler, which has become a staple of off-road drivers to this day. The Rubicon offers selectable front and rear locking differentials, a low-range 4:1 transfer case and Dana 44 axles. If you’re able to track down a Jeep Wrangler TJ Rubicon in good shape, you’re in for a treat. Ultimate Rides is one of the best places to find high quality old Jeeps for sale, so don’t hesitate to let us know if you’re on the hunt for one!

Whether you prefer a hard top or a soft top on your ride, Ultimate Rides has old Jeeps for sale that you will love.

Jeep Wrangler TJ Powertrain Specifications

The base model Wrangler TJ originally came outfitted with the same 2.5L AMC I4 engine that powered the previous generation, with the option to upgrade to the previously mentioned and highly regarded 4.0L AMC I6 engine. However, in 2003, Jeep introduced another available engine to Wrangler drivers with the new 2.4L PowerTech four-cylinder engine. If you plan on doing any custom work on your Jeep, we highly recommend going with the six-cylinder option. While the two four-cylinder choices are perfectly okay engines in their own right, they simply can’t match up to the excellence of the 4.0L I6.

Once again, the Wrangler offers manual and automatic transmission options to drivers, letting you choose the way you operate your vehicle. Over the course of the second generation, you can find 10 different transmission choices equipped with the vehicle. On the 2.5L AMC I4, you’ll find the three-speed 30RH automatic along with the five-speed AX-5 manual. On the 2.4L PowerTech engine, you’ll find the four-speed 42RLE automatic, the five-speed NV1500 manual, and the six-speed NSG370 manual. Finally, equipped with our favorite 4.0L AMC engine, you’ll find one of five different transmissions: the three-speed 32RH automatic, the four-speed 42RLE automatic, the five-speed AX-15 manual, the five-speed NV3550 manual, and finally the six-speed NSG370 manual.

The debate between round and square headlights raged for years between Jeep lovers, with passionate arguments on both sides. In the end, a return to round headlights came out the winner.

Generation Three Overview: The Jeep Wrangler JK

The third generation of the Jeep Wrangler was released for the 2007 model year, and it featured some major changes from previous iterations. Perhaps most notably, for the first time drivers had the option between two-door and four-door models of the Wrangler. Four-door models of other Jeep vehicles had been available in the past but this marked the first time they could be found with the Wrangler. Over time, the Unlimited four-door models would pass two-door models in popularity, so that today well above half of all Wrangler models are of the four-door variety.

This generation also saw a complete redesign of the vehicle’s body and chassis. Many distinct features still remained, such as the ability to remove the doors and the separate body and frame, but it’s undeniable that Jeep was doing everything they could to modernize the Wrangler. While the Unlimited was available in the later years of generation two, it didn’t include four doors, and instead of increasing the length by 10 inches, the JK Unlimited was an increase of 20 inches.

No matter which Wrangler generation you’re dealing with, the Rubicon is a mighty trim level that offers plenty of features that will help you out both on the road and off of it.

In addition, the vehicle is also wider than its predecessor, though not by too much. This step into the next generation is also noticeable for changing over many of the vehicle’s functions to be controlled by vehicle software. New safety features such as stability control and traction control were made available, and Jeep would continue to introduce more and more configurations and trim levels, such as the availability of a three-piece hard top.

To Jeep lovers, the JK is looked down upon for becoming too mainstream and modern, and while we understand this point of view, we feel that the JK has been unfairly treated over the years. It is still possible to have a third generation Jeep Wrangler be your go-to off-road vehicle, especially with the help of some custom modifications courtesy of our team here at Ultimate Rides. Whether you want to outfit your Jeep with a lift kit, with custom lights, or something else entirely, let us know and we’ll tell you how we can help.

For hardcore Jeep lovers, the JK may not be as popular as its predecessors, but you can still outfit it the way you want to ensure it handles itself in tough off-road situations.

Jeep Wrangler JK Powertrain Specifications

The third generation Wrangler was outfitted standard with the base model with a 3.8L EGH V6 engine, able to produce 202 horsepower and 237 lb./ft. of torque. While some online Jeep enthusiasts like to trash this engine for being a “minivan” engine, it in fact is a slight but noticeable upgrade over the beloved 4.0L I6 found in previous generations. Also available with the Wrangler JK are two other engine options, the 3.6L Pentastar and 2.8L RA428. The 2.8L RA428 is a diesel engine that offers 175 horsepower, while the Pentastar was introduced in 2012 and is considered the best engine choice for Wrangler JK drivers, with higher horsepower, torque and MPG.

There are also five transmission options that can be found in third gen Wranglers. Once again, both manual and automatic options are available. The Wrangler JK base model will be found standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but there are plenty of other choices out there. Plenty of Jeep drivers have taken issue with the performance of the JK, and we can’t account for personal taste but we believe these arguments are made with an unfair slant. Sure, we love finding old Jeeps for sale, but newer Wranglers have plenty to offer drivers as well.

The new Wrangler is an excellent modern off-road vehicle, but in our hearts we can’t deny we still prefer the older generations.

Fourth Generation Overview: The Jeep Wrangler JL

With the 2018 model year, Jeep has recently introduced the fourth generation of the Jeep Wrangler, known as the JL. Once again with this new generation, the Wrangler can be bought either as a four-door or two-door variation. It includes many modern updates that some drivers will be sure to love, such as more comfortable and high-tech interior features, while also retaining most of the important aspects that make a Wrangler a Wrangler. While the new generation is slightly larger than the last, it is lighter in weight. As you’ve come to expect from any modern vehicle, there are an abundance of trim levels available, each offering different configurations and features.

According to many Jeep lovers online, while the fourth gen is a step up from the relatively disappointing JK, it still doesn’t hold a candle to many of the old Jeeps for sale out there. One awesome feature some drivers will love is the ability to fold down or remove the windshield, and of course the doors are still removable. Would it even be considered a Wrangler otherwise? Due to being made of aluminum and therefore being lighter, the doors should even be easier to remove this time than they were for the last generation.

Find a custom Jeep Wrangler today by visiting us at Ultimate Rides. You can even have us modify it to your liking!

Jeep Wrangler JL Powertrain Specifications

The same 3.6L Pentastar engine that was available with the last generation can be found standard here, although it has been upgraded to feature better fuel efficiency. There’s also a 2.0L turbocharged I4 Chrysler Hurricane engine, as well as a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 turbodiesel engine. These engines are each paired with their own transmission options, and as expected, you should be able to choose between automatic and manual. Word has it that Jeep intends to soon introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler JL, but we have yet to see those plans solidify.

The Legacy of the Legendary Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler is an award-winning SUV that has roots in the American military vehicles of old. They are consistently high selling vehicles, and popular with all sorts of different drivers. For us, however, the Wrangler is our favorite vehicle to take off road, especially when customized with some extra features. One of the greatest aspects of the Wrangler is how easy it is to turn into your own unique vehicle, and here at Ultimate Rides that is simply what we love to do.

Whether you’re impressed by the vehicle’s look, the way it drives on a day-to-day basis, or the ever-present ability to take it off the road at a moment’s notice, there are so many reasons to fall in love with the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep fans can argue all day and night about which generation is best, but it’s our honest opinion that each one offers its own positives and negatives. All you have to do is take close consideration of what you’re looking for in an SUV, and that should help you figure out which generation Wrangler is best for you.

jeep wrangler 3 inch lift 35 tires
No matter which generation you decide to buy, we believe you won’t have any regrets once you step inside your new SUV and take it for a spin.

Where to Find a Custom Wrangler Today

If you are currently looking to upgrade into an amazing vehicle for both on-road and off-road action, we highly recommend the Jeep Wrangler. If you live near the city of Chicago, you’re in luck, as Ultimate Rides is only a short drive away in Coal City. If you live outside of our immediate area, however, we still believe we can serve you. We have incredibly reasonable rates on shipping, and more than 50% of our business is done with customers who do not live nearby. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

Go ahead and take a look at our inventory to see if anything catches your eye. Once you have a model in mind, feel free to give us a call at 815-634-3900. If you’d like to stop in and pay us a visit, you can find our office at 38 W. Division St. Coal City, IL 60416. We always love meeting new customers, so don’t be shy!