This $2 Jeep Wagoneer Needed a $4 Part to Run and Drive Again


Knowing how to fix cars is an invaluable skill. While modern vehicles are harder to work on because they’re more complex, vehicles from the 1960s are far more straightforward to repair. An old car left rotting for decades isn’t necessarily a lost cause, like this 1964 Jeep Wagoneer that James from Low-Buck Garage bought for just $2.

The Jeep’s New Mexico license plate was last tagged in 1996, spending 32 years on the road before likely sitting the other 28. Even before it was taken off the road, this Wagoneer looks like it lived a tough life. Previous owners swapped the column shifter for a floor unit, installed a different engine, and took a few too many tips from Dr. Frankenstein’s book of automotive surgery. A rotting steer’s head was also in the cargo area next to a rusted leaf spring.

But the butchered build was stable enough to resuscitate with some work. The Wagoneer’s original engine was long gone, and its replacement turned freely, providing a glimmer of hope that it’d breathe again with some attention.

A missing spark plug, a new distributor cap, and a $3.79 rotator were just a few of the things needed to get the engine running again. A mismatched radiator provided cooling, while a small gravity-assisted fuel tank attached to the underside of the hood fed the engine.

This Wagoneer needed a little more work to drive again, though. The clutch pedal sank to the floor and wouldn’t return, but a little tinkering with the plunger fixed the issue. The gearbox continued to make grinding noises, but whatever it was didn’t inhibit the Jeep from driving around the small lot. Sadly the lack of brakes couldn’t be solved with a handful of junkyard parts.

The next step is to see if spending 100 times of the purchase price—$200—will make it roadworthy. James registered the vehicle and got plates for it, making it legal to drive, but it’s not ready for its first road trip just yet.

Running and driving are big parts of the automotive equation, but no formula is complete without brakes, which the Jeep still lacks. Maybe the $200 in parts can fix the brake issue, rectify the strange transmission noise, and mend the fuel system so the Wagoneer can drive around with its hood closed. The rusting body might not offer much protection in a crash, but for a few hundred bucks all-in, can you really complain?

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