For $12,500, buy one for the gipper

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Ronald Reagan once owned a Jeep Scrambler for trips around his California ranchero. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe CJ8 may not be Ronnie's, but does its price make for good Reaganomics?

Reagan has been practically beatified by his supporters, while those on the wanting side of the have/have-not gulf still consider him to having been somewhat the devil incarnate. Whatever your political bent, it's a good bet you could agree that yesterday's Toyota 2000GT was a looker. Unfortunately for the seller, it fared no better in the voting than did any of Reagan's opponents, fetching a decisive 60% Crack Pipe loss. Cheap bastards.


Today's candidate - like that Toyota - also looks summer fresh, but contrastingly can be driven without major concern over investment diminution. You could even drive it off-road and enjoy the hell out of it without worrying that you're burning resale along with that $4.50 a gallon gas.

Jeeps, like the Marshal Plan, were a positive outcome of the second world war. The Civilian Jeep, or CJ series has, since that 1940s conflict, been subtly refined without losing its innate Jeep-ness. And one of the most rare of the CJs is the long wheelbase 8, which gives up little of the Jeep off-roadability for the added bonus of being about to bounce around about twice as much crap in the back as the standard CJ.

This 1981 Jeep Scrambler represents from the first year of CJ8 production. Over the course of the next 5 years, fewer than 28,000 were built, and the Scrambler ended up being replaced by the Cherokee-based Comanche in 1986. At 103, the CJ8's wheelbase stretches 10 full inches over that of the contemporary CJ 7, and that extra length is put to use - like Kim Kardashian - in the back. Not only are the wheels farther apart, but the rear overhang is also greater, providing a 5-foot long bed for all the ups you should choose to pick.


Sure that added ass effects the Scrambler's departure angle, but the truck's standard 4-wheel drive, sporting both a manual transfer case and front locking hubs, still provide plenty of Rubicon ripping capability. Getting power to the four Kumho knobbies is a Chrysler TF999 three speed auto, attached to which is the truck's original 112-bhp 4.2-litre six. That undersquare six not only provides - at 210 lb-ft - more torque than a titty-twistering 6th grade bully, but gives it up at a remarkably low rpm. Stoic and as reliable as morning wood, the long-serving AMC engine is a welcome sight under this Scrambler's bug deflector-sporting hood. That's because a lot of Jeeps, including the CJ8 suffer at the wrenches of their owners, many receiving heart transplants. In fact, these days, finding a 5, 7 or 8 without an SBC under its hood is akin to coming across a 20-something actress that doesn't have some insipid quote tattooed under one of her boobs.


The rest of this Scrambler is equally original, including the fiberglass cab cap with sliding rear window through which your empties might be chucked. It does not come with a feisty and territorial dog in the back, but those were always owner-installed options to begin with. It does have a diamond plate tool crib back there for the dog to perch atop, and with a full quarter ton capacity you could carry one big-ass pup. Power steering and brakes accompany the auto trans in the truck's acquiescence to civility - or perhaps little girl arms. It even has a tilt wheel with one of those cool vinyl wheel wrappers that used to be on nearly every 10-year old car in the nation, and collected hand grime like Bette Midler attracts the gheyz. With over 220K on this Scrambler's clock, you can bet that this one might require a bio-hazard team for removal.


If, when someone says Scrambler, your first thoughts are that it has been a long time since you've had breakfast at Dennys, then maybe this isn't the truck for you. Alternatively, if Scrambler evokes images of Honda dirt bikes, then maybe Hell for Leather would be more your speed. But, if that name sets your mind 4-wheelin' then maybe you'll have an opinion as to this Scrambler's $12,500 asking price. What do you think, is that a fair price to roll like Ron? Or, as Nancy used to put it, does that price mean just say no?


You decide!


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