The Jeep CJ-7 replaced the low production, long wheelbase Jeep CJ-6 (the civilian version of the M170 ambulance). While more agile on the trail than the CJ-6, the CJ-7 was intended to be a more civilized and luxurious version of the CJ-5. Compared to the CJ-5, it featured a 10-inch longer wheelbase and larger openings for doors that at least could make an effort to seal out the elements and be less awkward for most folks to use and get in and out of the vehicle. The Jeep CJ-7 also had more unified styling than the CJ-5 with the removable hardtop. Part of a drive to be more urban friendly, it was also the first CJ to offer an automatic transmission as an option (the GM Turbo-HydraMatic 400). Also debuting with the TH-400 exclusively was the now famous Quadra-Trac transfer case.
Right out of the gate, it was offered with most of the same options as the CJ-5, which initially were the Renegade and Levi’s packages. Of all the trim packages offered on CJs in subsequent years, only the Super Jeep and the 1979 Silver Anniversary weren’t available in the CJ-7 (logical, as the latter celebrated the 25th anniversary of the CJ-5). A couple of them were exclusive to the Jeep CJ-7, however, including the Limited (1982-83) and the Jamboree (1982). It’s actually quite hard to find a stripped Jeep CJ-7, as most were well equipped.
During the 1980s, changes were more cost-related than anything. The V-8 option was deleted for 1981, with minor components changing based on availability and better pricing to AMC from the industry.
Sales of the Jeep CJ-7 were so good (helped by more comfort and convenience options exclusive to it) that the CJ-5 was discontinued in 1983. Initially, Jeep purists decried this decision, and three years later, most of these same pundits were decrying AMC for announcing the end of the CJ-7 – the last of the Jeep CJ series –after the 1986 model year, ceding to the all-new Wrangler for 1987.