304 V8 Equipped: 1972 Jeep CJ5 Renegade

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the various makes and models of classic cars, a new entry reminds me that there’s still more to learn. This 1974 Jeep CJ5 Renegade comes equipped with the optional 304 V8 that made its appearance in 1972, an option I did not realize was offered from the factory (I know, Jeep fans, shake your head slowly at that admission.) This example has some bumps and bruises and will need some deferred maintenance tackled, but it looks largely solid with the exception of some fairly typical floor pan rust. The Jeep is a runner, but the seller notes the engine timing feels off. Find it here on craigslist in Houston with an asking price of $4,200.

The colors are great and the original Renegade decals are still plainly visible. As you can see here, there’s some damage to the driver’s side rear end, caused by the previous owner when his foot slipped off the clutch and clearly rolled back into something sturdy. The Jeep has four total owners, with the second one using it for a few years before sticking it on his deer lease. The third and current owner bought it from him with plans to bring it all the way back, but he’s got too many other projects vying for his attention. This is the sort of Jeep project many of us would like, as the floor pan repair is straightforward and the mechanical bits seem to be in good order with no major needs at this time.

The seller highlights some of the major recent mechanical updates that occurred under the third owner’s watch, who was the brother of the second owner. This work includes new brakes and brake hoses, new fuel tank, and a new HEI distributor. Jeep interiors of this vintage are fairly spartan affairs, so it’s hard to grade one on its appearance given how stripped down they are, but the paint at least matches the exterior and the seats look usable, but definitely tired. The backseat doesn’t appear to be matching, so front or back isn’t original. The shifter is laughably tall, but this was the norm when this CJ5 was still rolling off the assembly line.

Now, despite being a runner, the seller still advises that it be trailered home. That’s too bad; I saw this shot of it with the windshield folded forward and was already envisioning driving across a babbling stream with the doors off and the front glass out of sight. The Jeep has the perfect stance as is, and I wouldn’t tweak it with a suspension kit. Maybe some firmer shocks and slightly bigger tires, but that’s it. The combination of a classic Jeep body with an AMC V8 is a tasty one, especially with a manual transmission. Add this one to the list of vehicles I didn’t know existed but will absolutely jump on if one lands in my lap. Have you ever driven a CJ5 with a V8?

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  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Huh. Didn’t know they made CJ-5s with a V8. Learn something new every day

  2. Steve R

    Already gone, which didn’t come as a surprise.

    Steve R

    Like 8
    • PeteMcGee

      Steve R no doubt grabbed by Dennis Collins…

      Like 3
  3. Tom Coughlin

    A friend bought a yellow (non-Renegade) new with a 304. He put headers, lifts and big tires on it. It was scary fast off the line.

    Like 2
  4. Cadmanls Member

    CJ 5 with a the V8 could be a handful, short wheelbase. First two gears were pretty quick. The 304 could wakeup with a few parts.

    Like 2
    • AKRunner

      True words. My first vehicle was a 1975 CJ-5 with a 304ci. It was tired when I bought it but after a rebuild with shaved heads, new carb, intake, headers, flattop pistons, and balanced rotating assembly, it would outrun a lot of vehicles off the line. Fun times but I was younger and more invincible then!

      Like 3
    • Scott Evans

      I have a ’73 with a 304, and it’s scary fast!!

  5. Mike Morgan

    My neighbor had a 79 version I could have gotten dirt cheap, but it had headers, an aftermarket intake and carb, and no smog equipment. That wouldn’t fly in Calif. so I had to pass. Jeeps could be had from 71 to 81 with 304’s.


    I had a 1973 but with the straight 6 cylinder but still a great off road Jeep.
    I did test drive a brand new 1972 CJ-5 without the salesman and just my buddy with me. We turned the hubs in and burned rubber. It was a great time but the salesman asked why it smelled hot when we got back. Couldn’t agree on price so didn’t buy it.

    Like 3
  7. Rob L Member

    Willy’s power upgrade over the 1955 4 cylinder F head was the Buick V6. Once AMC acquired Jeep the straight 6 and the 304 were added. Chrysler acquired the AMC 6 with Jeep. Chrysler offered the AMC 6 and a four. A new V6 replaced the old 6 and 4 in 2007?

  8. Charles Sawka

    Just make it run and stop. Then enjoy it as is.

    Like 2
  9. James

    I dropped a pumped up AMC 360 ci, super swampers and a 4 speed in one. Great for playing in the mud.

  10. Jeff58

    I had a 1976 CJ- 5 with the 304 and 3 speed set up, bolted on a set of Black Jack headers and side pipes and had a blast on and of road.

  11. Dennis M Young

    Brings back great memories, and a few tears. My first ever Jeep was a 1974 CJ 5 Renegade in Bright Yellow. 304 V-8, 3 speed (you could only get the 4 speed with the 232 or 258 6 cylinder engines), draw bar (for pulling the 3000 pound boat I had at the time). Bought her new off the Milam Oldsmobile/Jeep dealership lot on River Road in Puyallup, Washington, 1974. Only had her for a year due to a divorce in late 1975 but would give a lot to have her back in restorable condition. License plate, back then was Washington BUZ 213. She also had a picture of Dennis the Menace holding a fishing pole and my name, Dennis, painted on the drivers side front fender. Have had more than a dozen Jeeps since then but she’s the one I miss.

    Like 3
  12. Peter de G

    Two of my brothers bought a 72 or 73 with the 304 . It I remember correctly the brakes were way overboosted ( locked up all 4 wheels with the lightest of pressure ) and when we were playing ” Rat Patrol ” and got a little airborne on landing I think it was the oil filter that would hit the frame member and dump the oil out .I wasn’t to impressed with the setup at the time but my memory might be incorrect

    • John King

      You are correct about the oil filter getting opened up by the frame upon a hard landing. It happened to me too! The solution is a remote oil filter or a filter bracket from a RIGHT hand drive postal Jeep. That would reposition the filter so that it would not hit the frame.

      Like 1
  13. RMac

    Had a 73 commando with the same power train 304 4speed headers and after market intake woke it up and it would fly and get in and out of almost any road or off road conditions

  14. PeteMcGee

    Renegade Orange (aka Big Bad Orange) with Ugandan Knitted Vinyl interior. Looked at a mint one identical to this one years ago. It was perfect in every way except for the original top, which was weathered. Under 50k miles, was towed behind a motorhome. Ask was $8k, and that was all the money and then some back in the day…hindsight is 20/20

    Like 1
  15. Dennis M Young

    I had a 1973 Commando a little later in life with the 304 and automatic. It was a great little rig . Also had a 1968 Jeepster with the V-6 and 3 speed and it too was a nice little rig. Still would like the ’74 Renegade back the most. I bought it new and the price was $4400. off the lot, tax, title, registration and all. Would cost $45,000
    . today!

  16. Randy L Welch

    I owned almost the exact same jeep in my younger days. What was exciting when I found out that the 401 in my pickup would simply bolt into the same motor mounts. Talk about a get up and go machine. I used it mostly for offroad racing. It simply wanted to tewar itself apart with that much power.

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