The 1970s was a growing-up period for Jeep. After AMC bought the company in 1970, they instituted a lot of changes and most were positive ones. The brand-wide “enginectomy” to install AMC engines in all Jeeps was done by 1972 with positive results. The AMC marketing department was doing a good job of putting the Jeep name more into the mainstream as the 4x4 became more popular in American recreation.
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By 1979, Jeep was well into the lurid graphics that seemed to mark the 1970s styles. Some were memorable. Some have required sizable amounts of adult beverages to forget. Most people think the Renegade package was one of the more memorable ones. It debuted for the ’70 model year as a limited-production SSO (Special Sales Order) package still outfitted as the Kaiser-Jeep folks had decreed and built in very small numbers through ’71.
After the across-the-board Jeep engine transplants, the new ’72 CJs debuted with the Renegade model still on the list (still a SSO) but this time fit with the AMC V-8 and restyled by the AMC “make-it-purty” dudes. At that time, the SSO Renegade package included some useful “go” options, including the aforementioned V-8, a rear limited slip, 3.73:1 axle ratios, skidplates, rollbar, and alloy wheels with H-78-15 Polyglas tires with an attractive, sporty paint and decal scheme. It was a popular and desired option, but there wasn’t enough to supply demand. The Renegade became a RPO (Regular Production Order) option in ’74 so that production and sales could be increased. When that happened, many of the more functional options left the package, and it became primarily a paint and decal affair to which you could add any functional items you wanted. At extra cost, of course!
For ’79, the Renegade package had changed its stripes considerably from the earlier years and was available on both the CJ-5 and the new CJ-7, the latter having debuted for the ’76 model year. The available colors changed to reflect, well, the ’70s. Fourteen colors were available for the ’79 model year, with either blue or orange Renegade stripe and a blue or tan Denim interior.
Included with the 1979 Renegade package were the Denim-covered front bucket and rear bench seats, 8-inch white-spoked wheels mounting L-78-15 Goodyear Tracker all-terrain tires, a sport steering wheel, roll bar, swing-away spare tire carrier, wheel lip extensions, rocker panel molding, courtesy lights, and a few other goodies.
Once you checked off the Renegade box on the CJ-7 order sheet, you had to decide on a 258ci inline-six (the base engine) or the 304ci V-8. From there, you had the option of a standard 3-speed manual (T-150), 4-speed manual (T-18), or 3-speed automatic (GM TH400). The automatic came only with Quadra-Trac (’79 was the last year for it in CJs, as it was also the last year for the TH400), and 3.54 axle gears were standard with no options for the V-8, but with the inline-six, you could order 3.07s.
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This immaculate CJ-7 was once in the vast collection of Jeeps owned by Dennis Collins, of Collins Bros. Jeep. It was only showing 41,700 actual miles at the time these pictures were shot and was still wearing its original paint and interior.