Home » Why My Jeep Wrangler YJ Is Ending Up Much Cheaper Than I Anticipated

Why My Jeep Wrangler YJ Is Ending Up Much Cheaper Than I Anticipated

Amazing Deal Yj Ts
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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.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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!

Screen Shot 2023 06 27 At 11.52.06 Am

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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:

Screen Shot 2023 06 27 At 11.53.28 Am

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:

Screen Shot 2023 06 27 At 11.59.40 Am

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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:

Screen Shot 2023 06 27 At 12.01.15 Pm

I’ve snagged a few other bits here and there, including this “Instatrunk.”

Screen Shot 2023 06 27 At 12.03.27 Pm

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:

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I also spent $250 to have my half doors re-painted, since they had a few scratches. Check them out:

354049789 215117177627101 6722963573651313619 N

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:

355633364 803175427984012 7303141831669898572 N

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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!

No description available.

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.

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James Milton
James Milton
11 months ago

Does this mean that you’re down to two vehicles? Color me skeptical.

RICK OTA
RICK OTA
11 months ago

When does the i3 update drop???

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
11 months ago

This reminds me of when I bought an E39 M5 in LA for $7000 (those were the days) sometime in 2016. It was a Dinan S1 car, and before I even got it home to Phoenix I had already sold the Dinan carbon fiber air intakes and strut brace for like $1600, so it was an even cheaper car by the time I got home. I should have kept it, I feel like such an idiot selling it considering that the most trashed pile of garbage E39 M5’s are like $16k nowadays.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago

> almost mint condition

Yeah, no.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
11 months ago

Driving on the highway with a soft top and half doors will make you question every decision you’ve ever made.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
11 months ago
Reply to  Phil Layshio

I mean, have you seen some of the garbage that David has (willingly) driven across the country? This is downright luxurious in comparison!

Mike B
Mike B
11 months ago

A few years ago I scored a used YJ hardtop for free on Marketplace. Someone was moving and just needed it gone. I was thinking wow, this has to be worth close to a grand! Nope, that hardtop sat for months, nobody wanted it. I had a hard time even giving it away for free just to get it out of the yard.

Idiot_with_a_garage
Idiot_with_a_garage
11 months ago

Look at you Mr. Fancy Pants! Paint and air conditioning, have you also gone vegan? Glad to see you living it up out west DT!

Sturzer
Sturzer
11 months ago

David,

What’s the rationale behind the cheap Wal-Mart tires?

Back when you were putting used tires from Facebook on genuine your rusty steed, it seemed fairly rational, but with this condition of TJ, don’t you want to install tires that have some sort of reliability or reputation, especially if taking it off-road?

I’m sure you’ve heard the old anecdote: “Don’t skimp on anything that goes between you and the ground: tires, bed, shoes”

Mike B
Mike B
11 months ago
Reply to  Sturzer

This was what I was thing too, about the tires. I guess on a second vehicle that’s not a long distance DD or something with any aspirations of pavement performance, off brand tires are okay. I would probably try to look for used name brand tires first though.

Scruffinater
Scruffinater
11 months ago

A/C is great and all, but will that actually do you any good with a soft top and half doors? (serious question, no experience with wranglers)

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
11 months ago
Reply to  Scruffinater

I own an MJ Comanche with factory vent windows and a sliding rear window, so it can have some pretty amazing airflow through the cab. That said I still massively appreciate the air-conditioning it has. We have humid summers in northwest Pennsylvania, and airflow doesn’t cut it like AC does.

FUCK YOU
FUCK YOU
11 months ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Yeah, as a New Englander the dehumidifier aspect of the AC is just as important as the actual cooling. There are days when I take my Miata to work with the top down, and even though it’s still sunny and nice by the end of the day I am just so over it after sweating my ass off on a roof for eight hours that I’ll go home with the ragtop up and the AC on.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

You got two doors painted for $250 in LA? I couldn’t find anybody to paint a hood for less than $700 in Idaho. This doesn’t check out.

Sean F
Sean F
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I am going to guess “way more options of where to take it in LA than in Idaho” might have come into play here.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

The friends and family rate at Galpin is probably quite favorable.

Is Travis
Is Travis
11 months ago

I’m just happy you have something relatively safe and reliable, and modern-esque.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
11 months ago

In my gut I firmly believe that one day we’ll see that Jeep towing your i3. Not wishing you bad luck but I smell it coming.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Man, I’m getting envious. I’ve owned four Jeeps and my sentimental favorite and first was a ‘45 Willys MB. It was a WW II survivor left behind in the Philippines after hostilities and American governorship.

I was stationed there in the early to mid 80s, so by the time it came into my hands, it’d seen a hard 38 years. It’s skin and floor pan were liberally patched with whatever was available to weld in, which gave it a piebald appearance, but otherwise was surprisingly intact, including the Go Devil four engine. I was told that for most of its post-war life, it had been owned by a police chief before it was sold to an Air Force guy and after that sequentially sold to other military guys as each owner transferred out. That’s how I got it.

It had a soft top and zip up doors that sort of fit and that were made right in town. The doors were usually off unless a typhoon was expected.

I drove this thing everywhere, on road or make your own road. The only time it came close to stranding me was when I took a corner too sharply at speed one night and it rolled up onto the passenger side while I clung to the steering wheel and tried not to fall out. Fortunately, it stayed up and didn’t roll onto its back. I was trying to figure out how to get it back on four wheels without snapping an axle when six Filipino trike drivers roared up and quickly lined up with me on the left side. We carefully took hold and lowered the Jeep back upright. I tried to pay them for their help, but they just laughed, patted my shoulders and shook my hand then jumped on their trikes and sped off beeping their horns and shouting. I got back in the MB, cranked it up and wheeled on out to the bars.

Driving a Jeep, doors off, top down (and windshield, occasionally) is almost elemental. So, when I read about you anticipating your jaunts with half doors and soft top under the California sun, it took me right back to my mighty Willys. Gotta say, I envy you. Hope you collect some great memories with your ride, too.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Kind of felt a little like MacArthur (during his return campaign) driving around. Kicked myself a bit for not shipping it back to the states, but I was headed for Europe and the paperwork was ponderous. It passed to a squadron mate when I departed.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
11 months ago

While attempting to sell the doors and the hardtop, what was the percentage breakdown of:

  • Serious respondents?
  • Scammers?
  • People who only looked at the picture in the ad and assumed that you were selling the whole Jeep?
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
11 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

“Is the passenger side door still available?”

DDayJ
DDayJ
11 months ago

“I’m prepared to pay $20 for both doors as long as you can deliver them to Cheyenne Wyoming.”

JDE
JDE
11 months ago

I would definitely get a tuffy center console lockable door and mount a Battery disconnect with a removable key under that.

CRX89
CRX89
11 months ago

I had a TJ and I spent a fortune on an aftermarket hard top and full doors. Your way is the better move. Just leave your doors unlocked, you don’t want anyone slashing the top to grab your spare change and you have the 5 speed antitheft device anyway.

MH7
MH7
11 months ago
Reply to  CRX89

When I lived just south of LA, I was in a pretty nice gated apartment complex with a night time security guard. I had my motorcycle in the mouth of the parking garage with soft saddlebags, and I kept a loud AF alarmed disc lock on it that was sensitive enough to go off if anyone screwed with the bags. At least twice a week, for the entire time I had that bike there, someone would rummage through the bags. Shit heads stole my dry bags the first night I was there, and I never kept anything in them after, but they still got hit another 100+ times (probably the same couple of dudes, which is baffling). There were several apartments I know could hear that alarm but no one ever did a damn thing.

In LA proper, I’d be more worried about coming out to find someone sleeping in it (or shooting drugs, or taking a shit). Cops probably wouldn’t even show up, unless you tried to resolve the situation yourself, in which case you’d go to jail.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
11 months ago
Reply to  MH7

I don’t know about other cities, but decades of having to endure the sound of false alarms up and down the street (any street) in LA at all hours, has convinced me that car alarms are not only useless, but genuinely bad for society.

Nobody really pays attention to car alarms because they have devolved into just another neighborhood annoyance, like leaf blowers. Maybe if the tech were both more advanced and more reliable, then car alarms would be worth using. But when a car alarm can be set off by a cat jumping on the car (seen it), a windy day (seen it), a loud noise (we’ve all seen it), or for no other reason than they are malevolent devices that are out to drive us insane, then there is really no point in using them.

The only type of car alarm that is actually worthwhile is a break-in alarm. Some people claim that those are bad because the point of an alarm is to prevent the break-in. But if such alarms were the only type that existed, then everyone would know that any car alarm that they heard was legitimate! And then maybe people would respond to them. And if people were more likely to respond to them, then the alarm would actually work as a deterrent!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  CRX89

Ha, joke’s on you, they’ll slash it anyway

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago

David. David! David, this is the most best and correct configuration for a Wrangler IMHO. I bought my JKU because kids (and it was natural pearl green, dammnit), but I still remember the ’92 YJ half door soft top I drove and that thing was magical. Everyone jokes about “it’s a Jeep thing” but yeah, actually, it kind of is. There’s no real substitute for it. Even riding a motorcycle is similar, but it’s still different enough that it’s just not comparable.

There’s people who know and there’s people who haven’t tried it out yet.

Taylor Marshall-Green
Taylor Marshall-Green
11 months ago

David, you’ve resorted to writing articles to make yourself feel better that the dumb producer (me) who doesn’t know shit from Shinola about cars and had never owned a Jeep before got twice a better deal than you only one week after your 91 YJ landed with a 93 YJ that could drive on top of your Clueless Jeep. Bro, I told you you could drive it whenever you wanted. BRUH!

Last edited 11 months ago by Taylor Marshall-Green
Abe Froman
Abe Froman
11 months ago

David, a few things:

1. I love the coverage of your YJ. I bought a ‘95 in early 2020 (it was hell finding someone to transport it from the city I bought in to where I live) and I LOVED it. I did a complete rustectomy and spent close to 9K getting it nice looking. You have a deal here.

2. As others have said, sell the A/C. People think they want it and will pay you for it. They won’t know they don’t want it until after you have your money.

3. Driving a soft top with half doors over 50mph is miserable. Keep it off the highway for your sanity and safety.

I ended up selling the wrangler and trading my 2016 X3 for a 2023 JT with the dual door group. FWIW- half doors on the highway in a 2023 still suck.

SolamenteDave
SolamenteDave
11 months ago

I was gonna ask what the split between driving the YJ and the i3 was. But you kinda answered it. Really happy to see all your car choices ending up in the pro column.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

California seems to be the place for you to buy. That’s two incredible deals in a row. Nice work DT.

A. Barth
A. Barth
11 months ago

Very nice! Glad to see you’re happy with it and enjoying it. 🙂

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
11 months ago

One missed opportunity, David… Why don’t you sell the A/C system while you’re at it? With the half-doors and soft-top, I don’t think it’ll do you much good!

Last edited 11 months ago by Anthony Magagnoli
Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

In CA they a very used to driving convertibles with their tops and and running the AC

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

Wow, I need to proof read

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
11 months ago

I did that all the time in my Mustang ragtop. But I’m in Austin and the AC came on when the temps were >95C, which is 9 months of the year.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
11 months ago

Can confirm, I use the AC in my MR2 Spyder with the top down fairly often. Cool air blowing on you is even nicer when you’re basking in sunshine.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
11 months ago

Yep. AC on and top down pretty much all summer long in my Miata.

Scruffinater
Scruffinater
11 months ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

Hedonists! The lot of you! Actually I’m just jealous I’ve never had working A/C in a convertible 😛

JumboG
JumboG
11 months ago
Reply to  Scruffinater

I’ll be a contrarian. I never use the AC with the top down in my convertible. I’ll use the heat, sure. But if it’s hot enough to need the AC, the top is going up.

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