Revisiting Classics: The Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

The Jeep CJ model series began in 1944 and lasted until 1986, during which time more than 1.5 million units were sold. These small and open-bodied compact pickups were designed for off-roading and incredibly popular.

In 1986, when the CJ series ended, Jeep replaced it with the Jeep Wrangler line that continues today. Among the various Jeep CJ models, one of the most popular was the Jeep CJ-8, also known as the Jeep Scrambler.

Introducing the Scrambler

The Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler arrived in 1981 and lasted until 1986. This was a long-wheelbase variation of the Jeep CJ-7, which began production in 1976 and ran until 1986. The CJ-8 had a wheelbase that measured 103.5 inches and featured a removable half cab. By comparison, the CJ-7 had a 93.3-inch wheelbase. This led to the creation of a small box in the pickup style as opposed to a pickup bed that was separate.

The CJ-8 used a traditional transfer case, complete with manual front locking hubs and a four-wheel drive. Although a 3-speed automatic transmission was available, most Scramblers used a 4- or 5-speed manual. A final differentiation between most CJ-8s and the CJ-7 models was the popular special-edition wheels. The first Scrambler let drivers choose from two engines with 82 or 110 horsepower.

The Nickname

The nickname Scrambler came from a specific appearance package on the Jeep CJ-8. This common package included tape graphics along with special wheels.

Notable Versions

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During its time in production, several notable versions of the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler helped lead to its fame. For example, President Ronald Reagan had a CJ-8 that he used on his ranch in California.

The Alaskan Postal Service also got a version of the CJ-8, with some adjustments for its unique needs. This postal service version had a full-length steel hardtop, right-hand drive, an automatic transmission, and a hinged barn-door that opened in the back instead of the rear tailgate. Jeep only produced and sold 230 units of this version.

There were plenty of sales in Australia and Venezuela as the CJ8 Overlander. This model also featured full-length rear windows. The models with the full-length steel hardtop were called the World Cab, a name that applied to both the CJ8 Overlander and the postal service version.


When new, the Jeep CJ-8 had a starting MSRP of $7,288, which went up to $7,922 with options and the hardtop. In 1981, Jeep produced 8,355 models, following this up with production of 7,759 units in 1982, 5,405 in 1983, 4,130 in 1984, 2,015 in 1985, and 128 in 1986. Because of those numbers, you have a reasonably good chance of finding a Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler today, particularly given the sturdiness of the auto.

Making a Return

While the Jeep CJ-8 or Scrambler is always a popular option among automotive enthusiasts, it has been making more headlines than usual lately since Jeep’s announcement of the Scrambler’s return. The upcoming Scrambler will likely be a 2020 model, and details are still scarce.

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