Live Auctions

46K Original Miles: 1981 Jeep CJ8 Scrambler

JEEP! These days it may as well be a synonym for gold. The one-time Ford, Willys, Kaiser-Jeep, AMC, Chrysler Corporation, Chrysler Group, FCA, and current Stellantis marque writes its own ticket these days. That wasn’t always the case and the stories of Jeep’s “inconsistencies” abound. This example, a 1981 CJ8 Scrambler, left off where the new, uber-popular Gladiator has continued – let’s see what’s here. This Jeep is located in Scottsdale, Arizona and is available, here on craigslist for $34,888. Thanks to T.J. for this tip!

The Scrambler was introduced in mid-model year 1981 – the initial ’81 Jeep sales brochure makes no mention of it. Technically known as a CJ8, the Scrambler’s wheelbase is 103.5 “, about ten inches longer than the CJ7 and twenty inches longer than a CJ5. Offered through the 1986 model year, total Scrambler production, according to Offroading Pro, was about 27K units over that six-year production run. In spite of its March ’81 introduction, Jeep still managed to knock out over 8K Scramblers that model year – its best showing.

While the listing shows a Scottsdale, Arizona domicile, the listing claims that this example is actually in Washington state and is from a collection that is being thinned by its owner. With only a claimed 46K miles on its clock, it presents well though the fenders show signs of chips and nicks. The oh-so-’80s color scheme certainly dates this Jeep but the tape stripes and decals have passed the test of time – they’re still bright and not curled or cracked. Another bright spot are the chrome wheels, they are not showing signs of rust or pitting, a common problem with wheels of this construction. Actually, the entire Jeep is stated as being rust-free.

There is no image of the engine included – a pet peeve to say the least, but the listing claims a six-cylinder engine is holding down the mechanical fort so that means a 110 or 115 HP (depends on the source), 258 CI in-line engine – a lump that is as tough as they come. Connected to a four-speed manual transmission, this Jeep “runs and drives wonderfully. It has great oil pressure, the clutch is strong, it shifts smoothly, the brakes are excellent, and it has very good road manners” according to the seller.

By older Jeep CJ series, the interior of this Scrambler is downright luxurious – well maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but it’s definitely not as spartan as some from this era and the environment here doesn’t show signs of some serious doorless mud-bogging – it’s quite clean. This baby’s even carpeted and the cut-pile floor covering shows little sign of enduring the rigors that CJs frequently experience.

So, how’s this Jeep compare to a Gladiator? Well. differences abound but as far as cargo capacity goes the Scrambler has 32.5 cubic feet compared to the Gladiator’s slightly more spacious 35.5 cubic ft measurement – not a big difference. The Scrambler was considered on the smallish side compared to the compact truck competition from Ford and Chevrolet –  nevertheless, it’s still pretty functional at that size, however. Compared to others that I could find for sale, the price of this Scrambler is a bit high but it has its mileage and survivor condition working for it and then a 2022 Gladiator, in its basest form, runs just a bit more – assuming that you can actually find a bottom of the line Sport model. I actually prefer the lines of the Scrambler to the Gladiator but that’s just that old car thing I guess – how about you, what’s your preference?


  1. Howard A Member

    JEEP,,,Just Expect Every Problem,,,not really, although I did get a bit twitterpated when mine didn’t start right away 12 miles back in the hills,,,but then it did. I probably would have lit a match if it didn’t. While my usual demeanor would laugh at this, I’ve made peace with the fact that sellers are truly nuts or desperate, and buyers are people that don’t know where to spend their money. Apparently, there’s 20 million of those people( millionaires) in the US alone. Somehow that bypassed most of us here.
    THIS? If you are one of THOSE people, that simply must have a themed version of an army Jeep cost no object, by all means, spend on. I have a set of steel half doors I’ll sell them, my price, FIVE GRAND A PIECE,,,what?

    Like 16
    • Marathon06

      So much hate….jeez. Keep your feeling to yourself Francis. Go take a laxative.

      Like 3
      • Howard A Member

        Mmm, hate is such an ugly word, let’s say, disgruntled. Karma paid me back for that “JEEP” comment, so no more of that. Happy times on Gumdrop Lane in Lollypop Heights,,,better? You,,,aren’t a Jeep owner, are you? I swear, these overpriced novelty items continue, I WILL have to take half a white Valium,,, :0.

        Like 2
  2. Todd J. Member

    I like it. It’s big enough to haul a few bags of mulch from the hardware store and classy-looking enough to throw your clubs in the back and take to the links.

    Like 7
  3. AndyinMA

    This is better looking than the gladiator to me. But the gladiator is superior in every way even given the extra 5 or 10 grand to buy.
    I just like scramblers – but not at current prices

    Like 3
    • Kim in Lanark

      Agreed. I live in NW Illinois and would li,e a Jeep pickup, bujt not at that price. If it was around 15K, I would be real tempted if it was closer. However, doors are a priority. It hit -40 a few years ago.

  4. Steve Clinton

    This is a keeper. Hard to find and very collectible, the value is bound to skyrocket.

    Like 5
  5. LastCJ

    Nice 1981 Scrambler. Original paint which is extremely rare with 40-year old Jeeps. This one definitely has 145,000 miles based on the paint and that the seats have been re-done. I had to tell that to the prior owner that a couple years ago, but this seller is keeping up the myth. It sold on BAT in November 2020 for $21,250 plus premium. Overall, it is in great condition.

    Like 4
    • TrautoAuto

      Hi LastCJ
      Do you know that this Scrambler has 146,000 miles?
      Since I live in New England, I would have to buy it sight unseen and trust the sellers word.

      Like 1
      • LastCJ

        I would be willing to make a substantial wager that it is 145,000 miles – almost a certainty. I had a handful of pictures from the prior seller (strong car guy but not a Jeep guy) and gave him some advice prior to selling. The level of paint chipping and the redone seats are not indicative of a 45,000 mile Jeep. Prior to committing, run the Carfax or Autocheck and see what it reports on the miles. The VIN # is in the old Bring-A-Trailer listing. If it cannot confirm the low milage, price and buy it as if it had 145,000 miles. It’s a very nice Jeep Scrambler but doesn’t appear pristing enough for low mileage.

      • oppyland

        Definitely the same one sold on BAT in November of ’20. If you read the listing from that sale, there are a few comments about a discrepancy in the Carfax reported miles – at some point it was reported as 810,000. I’m sure it was actually 81,000 and someone inadvertantly hit an extra zero. I agree with LastCJ – assume it’s 145k.

        Like 1
  6. Mark P

    I worked with a guy that had one of these, his was well used. Driving with him one day to go get some lunch he does a cartoon like double take in his driver side mirror. Then slowly pulls over. It seems the driver’s side rear wheel was riding about a foot outside of normal. Broken something. On another note, the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer, starting price is $87,000. For a Jeep????

    Like 4
    • AndyinMA

      That new GW – how can something for 87 grand be so boring?

      Like 2
  7. FrankD Member

    I have never seen a Scrambler that nice. Some lucky owner will be happy with his purchase.

  8. Bob19116

    Looks very close to the Jeep Scrambler owned by President Reagan at his ranch. Reagan drove Gorbachev around the ranch at the big USA-USSR summit before the USSR broke into pieces. Imagine the 2 most important people in the world in the mid 1980’s were driving around in one of these! Not only lacking 2 inch thick bulletproof glass, but actually lacking doors. Must have had great security at the Reagan Ranch.

    Like 4
  9. Stevieg Member

    Neat old Jeep! Probably as solid as represented, if it lived in Dallas, then followed that up with a collector in the pacific north west.
    I think the price is a tad high, and if looking for a daily driver I would just go ahead and buy a new one. If the intended purchase would be a toy, I would take a bunch of cash, look it over, and make a reasonable offer.
    All in all, a cool vehicle that you don’t see every day!

    Like 1
  10. 1959Buickman

    My dad bought one new, and I got in in 1986. One of the most reliable vehicles I ever owned, and I have had a lot of vehicles including several classics now. Drove it into the ground and mounted a plow on it once the body rusted and used it for cleaning snow at our hunting camp. The thing ran for ever, amazing. Tin worms finally overtook it. Wished we had kept better care of it.

  11. Jim

    Wow asking that much and not even a under the hood picture

  12. Denny Nevada

    I’m a huge fan of the CJ 8 Scrambler, and I still, occasionally kick myself, for not buying a new one, when I had the opportunity, storage, and what was once known, as discretionary income … It would been a lotta fun, to have it in my former collection, and still have it today.
    Fast forward forty years, and here’s a very rare, and well preserved Classic vehicle, that has either been driven approximately 1,000 miles per year, or about 3,500 respectful miles per year, Hmmm?
    I’m a bit late in posting my commentary, but If I still had the storage, and the ability to fly over to Washington and check it out, top to bottom, in person, and have a local Jeep dealer, if possible, or Jeep knowledgeable mechanic check it out, along with a Car fax report…and found all is well, and I could safely, and comfortably drive it home, I’d make the seller, a strong, one on one all Cash offer…
    The same process any of us have done, in the past, when looking at, and seriously wanting, a rare, highly desired (by us) Car or Truck, from the 50’s,
    60’s, 70’s or 80’s…
    This, to me, is one of those rare opportunities, to acquire a rare, fun, doesn’t seem to need much, classic and classy Jeep, that as long as the bottom, the
    engine bay, and mechanics, are as nice as the few pictures present, and the Inspection is acceptable, grab it and enjoy it, and share it at all the local shows.

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