Stephanie’s 1982 Jeep CJ7 Restored At Palm Beach Customs

Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1971-1986

by | Jan 4, 2021 | Auto Body Tips, CJ-7 Jeep Restoration, CJ7 Builds, Tech Tips

Stephanie’s 1982 Jeep CJ7 Restored At Palm Beach Customs

Do you know what’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)? The VIN is unique for any specific vehicle, and it is a powerful source of information that shows vehicles’ unique features, specifications, and manufacturer. And the knowledge of decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1971-1986 will give you unlimited access to those important pieces of information.

People usually underestimate information that looks abstract and too technical, especially if presented in the form of a long line of numbers and letters like the VIN number. 

When we’re buying a Jeep, the most important thing for us is its condition and the account number that tells us how much money we should pay for it. But as soon as we get into the administrative part of the deal, many other numbers appear to be important, and knowing them is an inevitable part of owning a Jeep.  

VIN number is the most significant one. Without it, you can not register your Jeep or finish any other administrative work, bring it into a workshop for a repair, or sell it.

You must also know how to check if the number from the documents is the same as the one on the car’s frame. Wrong or fake VIN can lead to serious legislative procedures and issues.

Most people don’t know what a VIN number is, and others have no answer to most questions, like, why do we need it, what does it mean, where can we read it,  is there another vehicle with the same number, etc. 

That’s why, before we make the decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986, we will explain some basics of the VIN number.


What is the VIN Number?

VIN number is a unique identifying code that can be found on any produced vehicle. Sometimes it is also called ‘chassis number’ or ‘frame number.’ There are no two vehicles with the same VIN, and by tracking this number, you can follow any activity related to the vehicle.

The automotive industry started using it in 1954. Before, they used the engine number for the same purpose, but problems occurred with replaced engines, and the changes were inevitable. 

But the VIN number was not standardized until 1981 when today’s 17 characters format was introduced for all different vehicles. 

Before, the format varied by different models in different years from 11 to 17 characters. And that is a significant moment in decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986 because its time period is before and after 1981 standardization. That’s why decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986 is an interesting process that unifies different standardization periods. 

But before the decoding, let’s briefly overview when we need a VIN number.  


When Do You Need a VIN Number?

There are some situations where knowing the Jeep’s VIN number is essential, like:  

  • When you are incurring the vehicle
  • During the manufacturer recalls
  • When making warranty services claims
  • When buying a used vehicle
  • When selling a used vehicle

The first three moments are strictly administrative. You must present the VIN number as an inevitable part of an administrative procedure. But the last two moments are the most interesting ones. 

Inspecting the Jeep’s condition in the workshop is only one part of the story when buying or selling a used vehicle. You have to know the Jeep’s VIN number to get many other valuable pieces of information like maintenance history, specific vehicle accidents, product recalls, airbag deployment, history of vehicle owners, current lines, and possible “lemon” status. 

Whether you are buying or selling, you have to ask and present this information. Proper decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986 will be essential for a relaxed and successful negotiation process. 

But first, we have to locate it.  


Where Can We Find the CJ VIN Numbers for 1971-1986 Models

You can find the VIN number in the registration card, insurance card, and other similar ones. It’s important to know how to find this number on your Jeep, so you can see if it is the same number as the one on your documents. 

The wrong or fake VIN numbers in your documents can be an unpleasant situation. Even in the best-case scenario, if there were no frauds, steals, and similar legal irregularities, resolving the problem and changing the VIN in the documents will be frustrating and time and money consuming. 

VIN numbers are usually placed on a tin plate located in different places on your Jeep:

  • On the drivers’ side firewall near the brake master cylinder, 
  • On the drivers’ side dash or the inside body panel by the floor near the parking brake lever, and 
  • On the windshield wiper motor cover inside the Jeep in the mid 80’s models.

Also, an abbreviated version can be found on the top of the passenger side frame rail above the rear wheel. 

Now that we know what the VIN number is, when it is needed, and where to find it, it’s time for decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986.


The Process: Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1971-1986

Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1971-1986 is not an easy task. Every character has a special set of possible values with a specific meaning.  That’s why decoding Jeep VIN numbers 1971-1986 is a precise process and should be carefully performed. 

Furthermore, the period between 1971 and 1981 is before VIN’s 17 character standardization, when VIN had only 13 characters. 

Decoding Jeep VIN number 1971-1986 has 3 variants, and we will present them in 3 consecutive tables.


Table 1: Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1971-1974


Table Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1975-1980

Table 2: Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1975-1980


Table Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1981-1986

Table 3: Decoding Jeep CJ VIN Numbers 1981-1986


These are the 3 options for decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986 depending on the year of production. Using them, you can successfully decode your VIN and take the needed information from it. 

From the moment when you are looking to buy one, through all administrative procedures, workshop visits, to the moment of selling or restoration, you need correct VIN number information. Decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986 is an important part of extracting information about your vehicle. We wanted to provide help to everyone who needed knowledge about decoding Jeep CJ VIN numbers 1971-1986.

1976-1986 CJ-7

1976-1986 CJ-7

The Jeep CJ-7 featured a wheelbase 10 inches longer than that of the CJ-5 and lacked its trademark rear curve of the door cutouts. The other main difference to the CJ-5 was to the chassis which hitherto consisted of two parallel longitudinal main c-section rails. To help improve vehicle handling and stability, the rear section of the chassis stepped out to allow the road springs and dampers to be mounted closer to the outside of the body. It was introduced in 1976, and 379,299 were built during 11 years of production.

The CJ-7 featured an optional new automatic all-wheel-drive system called Quadra-Trac, as well as a part-time two-speed transfer case; an automatic transmission was also an option. Other features included an optional molded hardtop and steel doors. The CJ-7 was also available in Renegade and an upgraded Laredo model. Noticeable by their different body decals, the Laredo model featured highback leather bucket seats, a tilting steering wheel, and an elaborate chrome package that included the bumpers, front grille, and mirrors. An optional Trak-Lok differential was available for the rear. The rear-axle ratio typically 3.54, but later went up to 2.73.

The reports of the CJ-7 were different in each type of engine: the 145 cu in (2.4 L) diesel was mated to the 4.10 ratio axle (in both Renegade and Laredo), while the 258 cubic-inch straight-six and 150 cubic-inch four-cylinder used 3.73 and AMC V8 304-powered models (produced 1976-1981, which became part of the Golden Eagle version) used the 3.55 ratio axles.

From 1976 to 1980, the CJ-7 used a Dana 20 transfer case, Dana 30 front axle (27- or 31-spline), and a 29-spline AMC 20 rear axle, while in recent years, the Laredo package added a tachometer, chrome bumpers, tow/recovery hooks and interior, comfortable leather seats, and clock. In 1980, the Laredo was first fitted with an AMC 20 rear axle until mid-1986, when it was equipped with a Dana 44 and all 1980 and newer CJ-7s came with the Dana 300 transfer case; parts for the 300 are still in production due to its durability and upgradability.

During its 11 years, the CJ-7 had various equipment packages:

  • Renegade 1976-1986 (2.4D L6-2.5-4.2-5.0 AMC 304 V8)
  • Golden Eagle 1976-1980 (5.0 AMC 304 V8)
  • Laredo 1980-1986 (2.4D-4.2 I6)
  • Jamboree Edition (2,500 units that were built for the 30th anniversary) 2.5 L and 4.2 L

A diesel-powered version was made in the Ohio factory for export only. The engines were provided by General Motors, the owners of Isuzu Motor Cars. Production of this diesel version was between 1980 and 1982. This model had the Isuzu C240 engine, T176 transmission, Dana 300 transfer case although there are reports of some being produced with the Dana 20. Typically, they had 4.1 ratio, narrow track axles.

The CJ-7 continues to be used in the sport of mud racing, with either the stock body or a fiberglass replica. It is also a favorite for rock crawling.


  • 150 cu in (2.5 L) AMC I4
  • 151 cu in (2.5 L) GM Iron Duke I4
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) AMC I6
  • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6 99.4 PS (73 kW; 98 hp), 261 N·m (193 lb·ft)
  • 304 cu in (5.0 L) AMC V8 127 PS (93 kW; 125 hp), 296 N·m (218 lb·ft)[33]
  • 145 cu in (2.4 L) Isuzu Diesel C240


  • Warner T-18 (4-speed with a Dana 20 1976-1979) (aftermarket adapters exist for a dana 300, but it was not a factory option)
  • Borg-Warner T-4 (4-speed with a Dana 300)
  • Borg-Warner T-5 (5-speed with a Dana 300)
  • Tremec T-150 (3-speed manual transmission with a Dana 20 1976-1979)
  • Tremec T-176 (4-speed manual with a Dana 300)
  • Borg-Warner SR-4 (4-speed with a Dana 300)
  • GM TH-400 (3-speed automatic with BW QuadraTrac #1339)
  • TF-999 (3-speed automatic transmission – 4.2 L with a Dana 300)
  • TF-904 (3-speed automatic transmission – 2.5 L with a Dana 300)

Transfer Cases


  • Dana 30 Front narrow track (1976–1981)
  • Dana 30 Front wide track track (1982–1986)
  • 2-Piece AMC 20 Narrow track rear (1976–1981)
  • 2-Piece AMC 20 Narrow track offset pumpkin Rear (1976–1979) Only for QuadraTrac #1339 equipped vehicles
  • 2-Piece AMC 20 Wide track rear (1982–1986)
  • Dana 44 Wide track Rear (mid-year 1986)



We, at Palm Beach Customs, are devoted to Jeep CJ restorations. Since 1980 we have completed over 2100 restorations across the US, and we know that every detail is important.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of restoration specialists will be happy to share the knowledge and experience with you.



  1. JC Johnson

    I’m considering getting what I am told is a 1978 2WD JEEP. I am having a problem verifying the “vin” this is on a plate riveted to the firewall.
    Can someone explain this to me, all I find is about vin #’s starting with “J”

    • John Russo

      JC I’m not sure what you have there it looks like a 1975 3 speed best of luck on that!

    • John Russo

      look above on the Table if shows you exactly what each character stands for

  2. vincent mahony

    This site is a tremendous help. The vehicle owner had me so misinformed it would have taken months to find the transmission and clutch parts. Now its back to work.

  3. Norman

    Bought without title vin plate 1ccf7e 9gt040726 According to your chart it’s a 86… …
    Any info on this Jeep as I have no title yet. Thanks norman

  4. Rick Pendley

    How do find Factory Paint color name or Number

    • John Russo

      Rick , helloyour VIN tag under your hood on the firewall (below the brake master cylinder) there is a two-digit number on the second row, in the middle. This is the Paint Code.

  5. Bryan Stormes

    I have a 1980 Jeep CJ7. Engine code in VIN says F, but I don’t see that listed in your decoder option. Can you help? Trying to find original info about this jeep

    • John Russo

      Bryan ,F- Plant & Transmssion – Toledo,T-150 3-spd Manual Transmission


  6. Dale

    I have a 1976 CJ-5 that I recently purchased. I am beginning to wonder if it was a Golden Eagle. It has the 304, Power Steering, the Levis Denim package, tach and clock. Is there someway to tell what package it was from the vin or paint code?

    • John Russo

      Trim package is pretty much a level of color, decals and accessories. Renegade and Laredo were 2 others. They seem to change by year also. Without the original hood bird or striping, a Laredo, Renegade or Golden Eagle all pretty much have the same options, levi’s seats, clock, tach. Unfortunately there was never an options code in the VIN. The dead give away for the Golden Eagle was usually the wheels. Here’s what is on the 1978 According to the Dealers Brochure.”Golden Eagle Package: The CJ Golden Eagle package includes tan Levi’s vinyl front bucket and rear bench seats with color interior; full carpeting in brown; the Décor Group (substitutes black anodized rocker panel for chrome) and Convenience Group; tachometer and rally clock; five 8” spoked steel wheels painted gold with black accent stripes; 9-15 Tracket A-T outlined letter tires; wheellip extensions; roll bar; rear swing-away spare tire carrier (CJ-7); fixed back panel and rear spare mounted (CJ-5); spare wheel lock; tan Levi’s soft top; special Golden Eagle hood decal with name lettering in gold and black; and bodyside, front fender and grille striping.”

  7. John C

    I’m thinking of purhasing a 1980 CJ7 Golden Eagle. The VIN is JOD93AC701380. I cannot find a reference to the letter D Can you tell me what it could be? What can you tell me about this VIN/Jeep?


    • John Russo

      John I actually dont know the answer to that ,Best John


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