BACKWARD GLANCES

1982 Jeep CJ-7 Jam­boree Com­mem­o­ra­tive Edi­tion

Four Wheeler - - Contents -

THE STORY OF THE ’82 JEEP CJ-7 30TH AN­NIVER­SARY Jam­boree Edi­tion be­gins in 1952. In that year, a group of Ge­orge­town, Cal­i­for­nia, res­i­dents worked to re­vive the fail­ing econ­omy of their Sierra Ne­vada foothill town. Ge­orge­town dates back to the 1849 Gold Rush and was in the epi­cen­ter of the gold min­ing in­dus­try un­til it played out in the early 20th cen­tury. By the early 1950s, the town sub­sisted on log­ging and lit­tle else. A new gold rush was needed.

Tourism be­came the new Ge­orge­town gold, and to fur­ther that, a group of pi­o­neer four-wheel­ers in town con­cocted an event called the Jeep­ers Jam­boree. The first in 1953 brought 55 ve­hi­cles and 155 par­tic­i­pants, and that was a good enough crowd to war­rant a sec­ond Jam­boree. It’s been an an­nual event ever since. Though not ex­clu­sively limited to Jeeps, there wasn’t much else back then ca­pa­ble of mak­ing the trip over the worst parts of a ne­glected and mostly aban­doned stage­coach road to Lake Ta­hoe. Even­tu­ally, it be­came known as the Ru­bi­con Trail.

By the 1980s, the Jeep­ers Jam­boree was big busi­ness for Ge­orge­town, and Jeep was an in­te­gral part of it. As four-wheel­ing be­came an Amer­i­can pas­time, the Jam­boree had also

be­come a Class-a mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­nity no man­u­fac­turer of 4x4s could fail to no­tice… and Jeep had the lock on it. Af­ter all, is Ford go­ing to suc­cess­fully pro­mote the Bronco on the Jeep­ers Jam­boree? By 1981, with the 30th an­niver­sary com­ing the next year, a big Jeep splash was en­vi­sioned with the pro­duc­tion of a limited run of a com­mem­o­ra­tive-edi­tion CJ.

It isn’t clear when the idea was con­ceived, or who pro­posed it, but in a prod­uct di­rec­tion meet­ing on Novem­ber 20, 1981, a Spe­cial Pro­mo­tional Pack­age was ap­proved to com­mem­o­rate the 30th An­nual Jeep­ers Jam­boree in the sum­mer of 1982. Most sources give AMC stylist Jim Alexan­der the credit for de­sign­ing the new pack­age. It was an­nounced in­ter­nally in a Prod­uct Di­rec­tion Let­ter dated De­cem­ber 14, 1981, and the dealer an­nounce­ment came in a let­ter dated Jan­uary 29, 1982. Of­fi­cially called the CJ-7 Jam­boree Com­mem­o­ra­tive Edi­tion, it was to be limited to 2,500 in­di­vid­u­ally num­bered units, though far fewer were ac­tu­ally built. To­day these rigs are com­monly called “Jam­bos.”

The op­tion re­quired a soft top CJ-7 with a few spe­cific op­tions. Among them were the 258ci I-6, five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion (later a few were made with au­to­mat­ics), power steer­ing and brakes, 235/75R15 Goodyear Wran­gler tires, 20-gal­lon fuel tank, sport steer­ing wheel, HD bat­tery and al­ter­na­tor, HD cool­ing, HD sus­pen­sion, bumper-mounted Mar­chal halo­gen driv­ing lights, tach and rally clock, and the Trac-loc limited-slip rear axle (though some are seen with­out). On top of the CJ-7’S $7,765 base price, these good­ies added $2,162 for a to­tal of $9,927.

The $1,332 Jam­boree pack­age it­self in­cluded the spe­cial Topaz Gold Metal­lic paint, padded roll­bar pack­age with sad­dle­bags, spe­cial gold-ac­cented seats, chrome bumpers and bumperettes, chrome spoked wheels, cen­ter con­sole, dé­cor group, black soft top, black car­pet­ing, Jam­boree spare tire cover, and the Jam­boree se­rial num­ber plate and de­cals.

On top of the base pack­age, there was a $1,644 dealer-in­stalled ac­ces­sory pack­age that in­cluded an 8,000-pound Ram­sey Model 2001 elec­tric winch, AM/FM stereo CB ra­dio with

an­tenna, fire ex­tin­guisher, Mar­chal driv­ing lights on a wind­shield-mounted bar, brush­guard, and grille guard. If you got ev­ery­thing it would have set you back about $12,903 for the Jambo if you paid full re­tail, plus trans­porta­tion. That’s about $33,000 in to­day’s bucks. Pro­duc­tion started around March 1, 1982 and the Jam­borees were avail­able by April of 1982.

To get the nitty-gritty de­tails, we con­sulted Eric Bickel, a Texas Jeep col­lec­tor and prob­a­bly the most stud­ied ex­pert on the Jam­boree. His web­site (82jambo.com) is both a reg­istry of the re­main­ing units and a cor­nu­copia of in­for­ma­tion gleaned from years of dig­ging. Ev­ery known bit of in­for­ma­tion on the Jam­boree can be found there, but there is still a lot to be learned, and maybe you have a lost piece of the puz­zle.

One of Eric’s big­gest dis­ap­point­ments is the lack of pro­duc­tion in­for­ma­tion. No records spe­cific to the Jam­boree have been found yet, but Eric has been very busy study­ing the VIN and plaque num­bers of the known sur­vivors and ap­ply­ing sta­tis­ti­cal al­go­rithms to make es­ti­mates on the num­bers pro­duced. These are not just wild guesses, and don’t doubt his abil­ity to plot sta­tis­ti­cal ev­i­dence and make con­clu­sions. He has a doc­tor­ate in en­gi­neer­ing from Stan­ford and is a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Texas, teach­ing Op­er­a­tions Re­search and In­dus­trial En­gi­neer­ing. Sta­tis­tics are a big part of what he does.

Eric dis­cov­ered Jam­borees were made in sev­eral batches, the first dur­ing the month of March 1982, when ap­prox­i­mately 412 were built. The sec­ond batch started in mid-april, and that’s when the first white Jam­bos were built. Yeah, there were Olympic White Jam­borees, and Eric is the guy who con­firmed the ex­is­tence of about 70 of them. There was a break again in early May, and then more were built in May un­til the end of June, when the last one rolled off the line. In these sec­ond two batches, Eric es­ti­mates an­other 186 were built, a mix of gold and white. There was an­other group of about 30 with low num­bers that Jeep saved for spe­cial pur­poses, and some of those have also turned up on the sur­vivor’s list.

Eric’s best sta­tis­ti­cal es­ti­mate is that 630 Jam­borees were ac­tu­ally built. He can ab­so­lutely con­firm 129 sur­vivors with an­other 28 very likely ones. Many oth­ers have been re­ported but are ei­ther un­con­firmed, likely to have been scrapped, or have dis­ap­peared. Eric says a good es­ti­mate is 200 sur­vivors in to­tal, but he is work­ing to get a firmer num­ber.

So why were 2,500 an­nounced and only 630 or so built? Eco­nomics! Jeep sold as many as they got or­ders for, and then the model year ended. The Jam­boree was a pro­mo­tional ve­hi­cle to help sell Jeeps, but not nec­es­sar­ily Jam­borees in par­tic­u­lar. Me­dia hoopla pro­mot­ing the Jeep brand was the main rea­son for Jam­boree pro­duc­tion. The profit mar­gin is slim with low-pro­duc­tion spe­cials, so they didn’t want to build any more than they could eas­ily sell, but the pub­lic­ity ben­e­fits were a tan­gi­ble as­set.

It’s known that six Topaz Gold Jam­borees were at the 30th An­niver­sary Jeep­ers Jam­boree, and one to three Olympic White Jam­bos. This has been pho­to­graph­i­cally ver­i­fied from

pe­riod im­ages by the crew of our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion 4-Wheel & Off-road, who cov­ered the event. Thanks fel­las, wher­ever you are now. What’s funny is that at the time, 4-Wheel & Off-road and Four Wheeler were from dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ers and fierce com­peti­tors on the mag­a­zine racks.

In do­ing the re­search for this, we hit up TEN: A Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany Ar­chiv­ist Thomas Voehringer, and he found the orig­i­nal 4-Wheel & Off-road photo file for the story with color slides and blackand-white prints from the event, and you see some of them here. It was cov­ered in the Novem­ber 1982 is­sues of both Four Wheeler and 4-Wheel & Off-road. The Jam­borees also got plenty of cov­er­age prior to the event. It’s ironic that Jam­boree pro­duc­tion had stopped by the time the Jeep­ers Jam­boree oc­curred. One Jam­boree was to be given away at the event on July 24, 1982, and Lake Ta­hoe res­i­dent Max Withrow had the win­ning ticket. Where are you now, Max? An­other was given away in a na­tional cam­paign by Jeep, but lit­tle is known about that Jeep or the win­ner of it.

While the CJ-7 Jam­boree wasn’t as rock­ready as the later Ru­bi­con, it could and did con­quer the leg­endary Ru­bi­con Trail, so you could say it was Jeep enough. To­day, it’s turned into a very col­lectible Jeep, and prices of $30,000 or more are not un­heard of. We can thank Eric for bringing much of the Jam­boree’s his­tory to light. If you are in­ter­ested in learn­ing more, tune in to The Jambo Reg­istry (82jambo.com).

<-The in­di­vid­u­ally num­bered plaques are unique to each ve­hi­cle but were some­what ran­domly in­stalled. Ex­cept for a few that man­age­ment saved for spe­cial pur­poses or peo­ple, it ap­pears the line work­ers grabbed one out of a box and stuck it on with lit­tle...

|>It was an or­di­nary Jeep 258ci I-6 un­der the hood. The 258 six, the only CJ en­gine op­tion above the 2.5L I-4, cranked out 115 horse­power with a two-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor. If only the V-8 op­tion had been re­tained an­other year, the Jam­boree could have been...

|>The winch and grille/brush bars were a use­ful ac­ces­sory, but are sel­dom seen. Likely that was due to the sub­stan­tial dealer markup. Most guys just bought af­ter­mar­ket stuff at a sub­stan­tially lower price. Still, the 8,000-pound Ram­sey Model 2001 winch...

<-Eric’s un­re­stored Olympic White Jam­boree is one of only about 70 built and wears the dash num­ber of 0693. This one was in the last batch built in June of 1982. Here you get to see the stan­dard pack­age and a soft top, which was al­ways black. The...

|>Among the Jam­boree pack­age items were the spare tire cov­ers mark­ing the 30th an­niver­sary of the Jeep­ers Jam­boree. These are both fac­tory orig­i­nal cov­ers, and it’s very un­usual to find them in good con­di­tion. Both Jam­borees still have their orig­i­nal...

|>The spe­cial gold-striped seats (in­te­rior code BV-1) are prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive parts of a Jam­boree to recre­ate. They are sim­i­lar to other op­tional seats in the era, but with the unique gold stripes. Also vis­i­ble in this shot are...

<-<|Eric Bickel’s Topaz Gold Metal­lic ’82 CJ-7 Jam­boree Edi­tion is as pe­riod-per­fect as he can make it. It’s one of the sec­ond batch pro­duced. It wears num­ber 0152 and is shown here with the Ac­ces­sory Pack­age, though, like al­most all sur­viv­ing...

|>This is very likely John Han­son from 4-Wheel & Off-road mag­a­zine in July 1982 on the Ru­bi­con. From what we can see, he has man­aged to not dent it up yet. We would dearly like to know the dash num­bers of this and the other Jam­borees on the run.

|>Jeep has al­ways had a big pres­ence at the Jeep­ers Jam­boree, but this is an awe­some assem­bly of vin­tage Jeep iron lined up at the MGM Grand in Reno be­fore the event. They con­voyed down to Wentworth Springs and ran the trail back up the hill. In the...

|>A vin­tage black-and-white pic show­ing one of the Jam­borees with a dam­aged li­cense frame from the Reno Jeep dealer. The Ru­bi­con has changed so much over the years that we are not sure where on the trail this was taken. We know it’s some­where past the...

|>Now you can say you have seen a uni­corn. Eric has de­ter­mined no more than 22 au­to­matic Jam­borees were built, half of them Olympic White like this one, putting them into the un­ob­tainium cat­e­gory. He found this sur­vivor in Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia. It’s...

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