1959 CJ5 Jeep...Memories of my First Car!

by Brian
(Kansas, USA)

Ah, the venerable CJ Jeep. Not only have I owned both a 1959 CJ5 and an '89 Cherokee, but the '59 was my first car. So many lessons learned.

I had come back from a summer on the farm with all my money saved just eager to purchase my new automobile and stumbled across a very, very heavily used CJ5. I wanted it.. bad. Was it practical? NO! Was it solid? NO! But I loved that Jeep.

The previous owner had built it for running in local mud races so I had the distinct joy of owning a jeep with a bored, balanced 0.030 over 289 V8. This made an awesome motor once it woke up at about 3000 RPM. It wasn't terribly useful before then though. It was even more fun in that the 289 was bolted to the original 3-speed manual. Too much motor for not enough transmission.

I remember once attempting to powershift into 2nd gear and was faster than the synchro. I ended up rebuilding the transmission yet again for showing off as a kiddo. But that's just the beginning.

My jeep had a body mount that had long since rusted and fell away and it was replaced with a wooden block. It had the rear tailgate welded shut and a single piece of sheet metal welded over it. It had cast aluminum rims that were spray painted black. It had the lovable gas tank under the driver's seat, no speedometer, usually no turn signals, no radio, no heat.... I did (usually) have a working tachometer, and that's just about it.

While now that I'm older I wouldn't want to own the thing again, it still taught me many important lessons in life at an early age and got me into a sport I still pursue some 10 years later.

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