OTTAWA — The print advertising for the 1977 Jeep CJ-7 reads, “Jeep CJ’s. Built this tough for the fun of it.”
Tough is what sells. In 1944, Willys-Overland, one of the two primary manufacturers of the World War II military jeep, built the first prototypes for a commercial version — the CJ, short for “Civilian Jeep.” The Jeep CJ line was in production until 1986. At that point more than 1.5 million CJ Jeeps had been built, having continued the same basic body style for 45 years since the Jeep first appeared. The Jeep CJ-7 was replaced in 1987 by the Jeep Wrangler.
The Jeep CJ models were regarded as “America’s workhorse.” According to American Motors VP Joseph Cappy, the Jeep CJ models were “probably the most successful utility vehicle ever made.”
Zachary Thobe, of Ottawa, purchased this Jeep in April of 2021. He did a complete restoration of the Jeep, “not knowing anything prior to starting the project.” This was Thobe’s first vehicle restoration.
The restoration was completed in October of 2021.
Thobe states his favorite memories, so far, include working with his father on the restoration process and the times he and his wife have been able to cruise with their three kids in the back.