Not gonna lie, we’re big fans of the Jeep CJ-5 ’round these parts.

After all, we put it on our list of The Top 10 Jeeps of All Time and we’ve featured one in a previous Lot Shots edition before.

So any time a CJ-5 pulls into a Summit Racing retail store, we try to run out and snap as many pics as we can. And that’s doubly true if it’s clean and customized for some serious off-roading—which is exactly what we got when this tough rig rumbled into the lot earlier this fall.

side profile shot of a vintage jeep cj-5
CJ-5s are easily distinguished from the later CJ-7 models thanks to the unique curvature of the door openings. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

If you’re new to the whole Civilian Jeep thing, the CJ-5 is perhaps the most noteworthy. Produced from 1955 to 1983, it enjoyed the longest production run of any vehicle in the CJ lineage. Perhaps more importantly, it solidified the familiar seven-slot grille and round headlights that ultimately became the face of the Jeep brand—a look that *mostly* carried through to the Wranglers of today.

Learn more about the Civilian Jeep generational breakdown and evolution in our handy Jeep CJ Spotter’s Guide.

front grille view of a custom jeep cj-5
While earlier Jeeps wore some variation of the round headlight/slotted grille arrangement, it was the CJ-5 that created the template that was used on subsequent CJ generations—most of them, anyway. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

As alluded to above, this particular CJ-5 in our Lot Shots feature has been customized, which makes pinning down an exact year difficult. But there are some clues.

For starters, it wears the stretched fenders that are indicative of a 1972+ CJ-5. That year, the whole front end of the CJ-5 was lengthened to accommodate the new inline six engines coming from AMC. (An engine lineage that would ultimately spawn the legendary 4.0L six that powered Jeeps well into the 21st century.)

rear tailgate view of a vintage jeep cj-5
Though the rad old-school Jeep logo got stamped on the tailgate of so-equipped models up to 1983, the smaller round taillights here tell us this is a pre-1976 model. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

However, it’s got the earlier version of the windshield and requisite latches inside, which means it was built before the last major style update in 1976. Finally, it’s got the modernized Jeep logo and placement on the fenders, which occurred roughly halfway through 1974.

So, if we’re the gambling type, we’d put our money on either a late 1974 or 1975 model here. If you know for sure, let us hear about it in the comments section below.

interior shot of a custom jeep cj-5 dash
If you noticed the CB antenna whip in the earlier picture, you’ll see the radio rests nicely in the center console. You can get more CB radio mounting tips here. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

But again, this CJ-5 has been modified—and very well, it seems.

Take a close look under the Jeep and you’ll see shiny exhaust headers, perhaps from a swapped V8. Inside, there’s a painted roll bar that integrates almost seamlessly with the vintage aesthetic of the interior.

cowl hood view of a jeep cj-5
Companies like Kentrol have been making stainless steel Jeep upgrade parts for decades. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

The whole rig rolls on Cragar wheels wrapped in Dick Cepek tires. And we’re guessing there’s at least a three inch suspension lift at work here. That sparkling orange paint is perfectly complemented by stainless steel accents.

In other words, it’s a clinic in how to tastefully modify an off-roader.

close up of cepek tires on cragar rims on a jeep cj-5
Note the shiny exhaust headers running down out of the engine bay too. There was an identical set on the other side, so this CJ has V8 power—but we’re not sure if it’s a trusty AMC 304 or a complete engine swap. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)

Given its off-road mods, we’re hoping this thing sees plenty of trail time. And with that paint job, it likely drops plenty of jaws along the way.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the owner of this awesome Jeep, so if you know any of the exact details behind this build, let us know in the comments section.

front driver side quarter shot of a customized Jeep CJ-5
With body lines so clean and straight, we first assumed this was a fiberglass tub—but it’s steel. The giveaway is the leftover stamping mark from the relocated gas filler. Original CJ-5s has the tank under the seat, which meant the filler neck was in a pocket right below the driver. When the tank was relocated to the rear, AMC simply filled in the old spot with the blank panel seen here. Fiberglass tubs rarely mimic that feature. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Nicole Courey)
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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.