A few months after moving to California, I bought a 1991 Jeep Wrangler YJ — the very first generation of Jeep Wrangler, and the one that many remember from Jurassic Park/Clueless/MacGyver. I spent $7,800 on the vehicle, which is a lot given my cheap-bastard-ism, but that was just the sale price. A few months in, it’s become clear that actually my Jeep was an absolute bargain. Here’s what I mean.
I know, $7,800 is a lot compared to all the cars I’ve been writing about over the years, and I won’t pretend that dishing out those Benjamins didn’t sting a bit. But for a Jeep Wrangler with zero rust, the excellent 4.0-liter straight six, the just-as-excellent Aisin AX-15 five-speed manual transmission, functioning air conditioning, and recently re-done paint, it seemed like an OK deal. To have found something this nice in Michigan for this little money would have been tough.
But here’s the thing: My YJ won’t actually cost me $7,800 when all is said and done. You see, I didn’t realize this at the time, but the full doors and hard top that it came with are worth their (considerable) weight in gold. I had no clue!
In fact, I just sold my full-doors the other day for $1,400!
That brings my overall expenses down to $6,400. But wait, that hardtop — I don’t need it, because why drive a Wrangler with a hard top in California? You may as well own an XJ at that point! So off it goes, as well:
Now, I haven’t quite sold the hard top, but I’m told I’ll get $1,200 for it all day. So overall expenses drop to: $5,200. I did buy a new (extremely cheap) set of Walmart all-terrain tires, though, and I’m selling the old ones, so that’ll bring me to $5,500.
I also bought a new soft top for about $215 after tax:
And I bought some new hardware to go with that top, along with a new rear bench since my Jeep didn’t come with one:
I’ve snagged a few other bits here and there, including this “Instatrunk.”
This will allow me to park with the top down and still have secure items in the rear, behind the bench seat. Basically, I bolt this metal structure to the sides of the cargo area, and it uses the rear swing-gate as the lockable door for the compartment:
I also spent $250 to have my half doors re-painted, since they had a few scratches. Check them out:
I just got those doors back yesterday, and I test-fitted them yesterday; the Jeep looks a bit odd with the hardtop, but with that gone it’s going to be a great looking Jeep YJ:
I do need some upholstery repairs on my driver’s seat, but otherwise it’s an almost mint condition YJ with new tires for a total of around $6,200! That’s absurdly cheap for any Jeep Wrangler. For one this nice, with all the features you want (4.0, stick, AC), it’s a deal and a half!
Driving on the highway with the soft top and soft door uppers will be a bit…rough, but hey, I’ve got my i3 for that.