How to Buy a Classic Jeep

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A classic Jeep is reminiscent of an old war vehicle. In fact, many classic Jeeps are either the Willys Jeep model that was used in World War II or subsequent models that shared the same shape and design.

Classic Jeeps have a loyal following. They are tough and long-lasting, and are thoroughly enjoyable to drive. As a four-wheel-drive vehicle, classic Jeeps are capable of traversing some of the harshest terrain accessible by vehicle.

If you want to own a classic Jeep, you’ll need to determine a specific model you want, find one for sale at a fair price, and purchase it. It may sound simple, but with few classic Jeeps remaining roadworthy today, finding a suitable one may prove to be a challenge.

Part 1 of 2: Determine the classic Jeep model you want

Determine the Jeep model you want to buy from the many different models available from decades past. Some are more desirable than others, which means they are more expensive to purchase. Others may be rare to find in operational condition.

Some popular classic Jeeps include the following models.

willys mb

Willys MB. The Willys MB was built and used in World War II. It was known widely as an incredibly hardy, versatile machine and gained a worldwide reputation during the war.

M28A1 Jeep

Jeep M28A1. Also known as the Jeep MD, it is described as the best Jeep ever built. It later became the basis of the CJ-5.

person driving a CJ-5

Jeep CJ-5. The CJ-5 is the “civilian jeep,” and became the most recognizable 4x4 model on the roads. It would be the foundation of models to come including the YJ, and TJ, known as the Jeep Wranglers.

Step 1: Determine which Jeep model you like best. Consider which body style you find most visually appealing.

Research each model to discover historical facts and stories that may persuade you to want to own a particular model.

Step 2: Consider the age of the vehicle you are buying. If you are drawn to the oldest models, be aware that replacement parts may be nearly impossible to find - so you’ll want to find a vehicle in pristine, complete condition.

  • Tip: CJ-5 parts may still be available aftermarket as there are still many around.

Step 2: Consider whether you will be driving your classic Jeep regularly. The oldest models are less suited to regular use; they are best reserved for car shows and occasional use.

If you plan on off-roading or driving your Jeep regularly, consider the more modern Jeep CJ because it will be easier to repair in the event of a breakdown.

Part 2 of 2: Find your desired classic Jeep for sale

Once you’ve decided which classic Jeep model you’d like to own, you need to search for one you can try to buy.

Step 1: Find local listings for classic Jeeps. Look in your local paper or classic car publication to find classic Jeep ads.

There aren’t likely to be many listings; if you find one, inquire about it right away.

autotrader
Image: Autotrader

Step 2: Check online classifieds for classic Jeeps for sale. Check Craigslist and AutoTrader Classics for listings near you.

Vehicle conditions vary greatly on older Jeeps, and the price usually reflects the condition the Jeep is in.

Step 2: Check nationwide listings on classic car sites. Look for your desired Jeep model on sites such as Hemmings.com and OldRide.com.

Listings on these sites may be for any location across the country.

Step 4: Decide how far you will travel to buy a classic Jeep. If you are willing to fly or get a ride to another city so you can drive home your Jeep, you can expand your search area from just local vehicles to any number of cities or states.

Step 5: Inquire about Jeep listings you’ve discovered. Select three to five Jeeps you’d like to own, and rank them based on which you’d prefer to own most. Then get in touch with the owners.

  • Inquire about each, feeling out if the owner is flexible on price.

  • Ask about the Jeep’s condition and any repairs it may need.

  • Get as much detail as you can, especially if the Jeep isn’t from near you.

  • Ask for pictures of the Jeep, so you can verify it is the model you are looking for and is in acceptable condition for the price.

hagerty site
Image: Hagerty

Step 6: Get an idea as to the actual value of the Jeep. After getting more specific details, check the Jeep’s value against a valuation tool such as Hagerty.com’s classic car valuation tool.

  • Click on Value Your Vehicle under the Valuation tab, then input the Jeep’s details.

  • Check the Jeep’s value against the condition values reported.

Most vehicles are in the “good” to “very good” range, though if the Jeep is a little rough around the edges, it may be only fair condition.

If the Hagerty value is close to the asking price, you may wish to proceed.

If the advertised price seems high compared to the valuation tool, negotiate with the seller to see if you can get a better price on the Jeep.

Step 7: Try the next vehicle on your list if necessary. If you can’t settle on a deal with the first vehicle on your list, move down through the others until you find one you can strike a deal on.

Part 2 of 2: Purchase the Jeep and bring it home

Once you’ve found the right vehicle and negotiated a sale price, complete the sale and bring your new - or old - Jeep home.

Step 1: Complete a bill of sale with the seller. If you are able to write out a bill of sale in person it is best, but you can also each fill it out and send it by fax or email to each other.

  • Write the Jeep’s year, make, model, mileage, VIN number, and color on the bill of sale.

  • Write both the seller’s and buyer’s name and address and contact phone number on the bill of sale and have both parties sign it.

  • Write the agreed-upon price on the bill of sale and indicate if a deposit was paid, if applicable.

Step 2: Arrange to pay for your classic Jeep. If you are buying the Jeep in person, bring payment with you when you go to pick it up.

You can also mail payment to the seller or send an electronic payment.

Preferred methods of payment are typically bank draft, certified check, or an escrow service such as PaySafe Escrow.

Step 2: Transport your classic Jeep back home. If you are in driving distance, take the top down and cruise your classic Jeep home.

If you bought a Jeep from quite a distance away, you may prefer to have your Jeep shipped home. Contact a vehicle shipping service through UShip.com or elsewhere to arrange to have your Jeep brought securely and directly to you.

Advise your car insurance company of your classic Jeep purchase, and ensure that you have enough vehicle insurance coverage for it in your policy. If you need to buy additional classic car insurance for your classic Jeep, check out services from Hagerty.com, one of the leading classic car insurance providers.

If you feel uncertain about the true condition of the Jeep you are purchasing, be sure to have a certified mechanic come out to inspect the Jeep before you sign any agreement. A mechanic from YourMechanic can meet you and the seller at a location of your choice to complete the inspection on site, and you can feel confident driving away in your newly-purchased classic Jeep.


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Torrieanto did a fantastic job on a used car pre-purchase inspection. He was very thorough and took the time to explain the technical details and ramifications to me. He also gave me peace of mind with my purchase and a few negotiating points to further reduce the purchase price.
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Gus was great! He talked with me before and after he did his inspection and was very informative. He walked me through what he checked and what he recommended to replace/service on the vehicle for optimal performance. I would definitely recommend him!
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