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Buying a Jeep for Jurassic Park

So you want to take the plunge and purchase a Jeep Wrangler to make your own Jurassic Park Jeep and need to know what to look for, and whats accurate and whats not. You have come to the right place.

First of all, please let me tell you that this is not going to be cheap. Jeeps have a notoriously good resale value. A Jeep that cost $15,000 in the 1990s may still be worth $5,000 or more after 20 years. That makes it very hard to be able to do these things cheaply. On top of the cost of the Jeep, there are some serious costs involved with doing the conversion, but we’ll talk about those later.

There is only one right Jeep. The one used in the movie is a 1992 Jeep Wrangler Sahara in Sand Biege Low Gloss Metallic. 1992 was the only year this color was available and it was only available on the Sahara package. They are extremely rare, and very uncommon to come across. But if you find a 1992 Sahara-Edition, you have a 50/50 chance of it being the right color. Can’t find a 1992 Wrangler Sahara? You are in luck. Read on.

What year Jeeps will work?

Jeeps were first produced in the 1940’s during World War II. After the war the first models of CJ (Civilian Jeep) were released to the public. Throughout the years the design and construction of the Jeep has changed very little. In 1987, the first Jeep Wrangler (YJ) was released. It was similar to the CJ-7 that preceded it (and it shared some parts). The main difference in appearance was the usage of square headlights instead of round ones.

The Jurassic Park Jeep is a YJ Jeep. The YJ was produced from 1987 until 1995. Any Jeep produced during that time will give you an accurate square headlight Jeep to be turned into a Jurassic Park Jeep. However some Jeeps are better to use than others. Read on.

What year Jeeps work the best?

There were minor changes over the course of the Jeep YJ that make later years better than others. For general reference the best years for making a Jurassic Park Jeep are 1992-1994 Jeep Wrangler Saharas. The best years for purchasing a Jeep for Jurassic Park are 1992-1995 Jeeps.

What’s wrong with other years?

Every year something was improved, so newer will be better. The 1987 Jeep had a different transfer case that was unreliable. Up until 1991 the engines were carburated which produced less power than later year Jeeps. In 1992 the roll cage was changed for one that was accurate to Jurassic Park. Also in 1992 the Sahara package was updated to the green inteior that is present in the Jurassic Park Jeeps.

What about 1995 Jeeps?

The 1995 Jeep (the last year of the YJ) is probably the most refiened Jeep, and a good choice, but has some differences from the 1992 to 1994 Jeeps. If purchasing the Sahara package, it still has the accurate green seats, but lacks a grey dashboard and green center console. The windshield supports on the hood are usually different, and the 1995 has a third brake light above the spare tire. Nothing too major, but some changes would be required. The 1995 is the first year of galvanizing the chassis, which means the 1995 will hold up better to rust.

What to look out for?

The biggest thing going against the Jeep YJ is time and rust. The most important thing you need to look out for is rust to the body, but more importantly to the frame of the Jeep. It is extremely common for the Jeep frame to rust on all 1995 and older Jeeps. Look for rust on the driver side frame near the steering box. This is a common point for rust. Another big area for rust is the rear frame area where the suspension shackles are mounted. This will almost always rust out completely.

Body rust is also a huge problem on (all Jeeps). Since the Jeep is often used without a top, water and moisture will inadvertantly end up on the floor. When water gets soaked into the carpet it will start to eat through the metal. Look for rust under the carpet, typically under the driver’s feet. This area will rust out and the rust will travel out the sides. Look under the side molding for potential holes and rust.

One final spot to look out is the windshield frame. Because of the holes placed in the windshield frame from soft / hard top hardware and other reasons water typically gets into the windshield frame. The frame will rust out along the edges of the windshield itself.

What to do about rust?

If you find a Jeep that you must absolutely have, you will need to repair the rusted areas. Thankfully the Jeep is such a popular vehicle amongst enthusiasts that replacement panels are available for all the areas that rust out commonly. If you have the skills to do repairs yourself, buying a rusty Jeep can be a cost effective way to purchase a Jeep. However the repairs are not easy and will take a lot of time. If you do not have the skills neccessary, taking the Jeep to a body shop will be costly (usually more expensive than purchasing a rust free Jeep to begin with).

What about newer Jeeps?

The 1987 – 1995 Jeep Wranglers are the only ones that are correct with rectangular headlights. In 1996 for the TJ (and later) they reverted back to the beloved round headlights. There were also many other changes to the body that make the newer Jeeps have a different appearance. That being said, the basic shape of the Jeep is still there. Using a newer Jeep would be a great way to have a good condition (and more refined) Jeep without having to worry about major maintanence and rust. It won’t look exactly right, but you will be able to get the message across with a newer Jeep!

  • Chris

    November 3rd, 2010

    hi, i just like to say big fan of Jurassic Park and well im getting my lisence soon and my dad is going to buy me this 1988 Jeep Wrangler http://www.lemonfree.com/74061409.html
    im really confused on how to make it as close to the Jurassic Park jeep as possible

  • Bradley P

    September 4th, 2011

    FYI, NO Jeep Wranglers were built in 1996. The YJ’s last year was 1995 and the TJ didn’t start until model year 1997. 1996 was spent making significant retooling changes for the upcoming TJ model.

  • Lew

    October 13th, 2011

    I’m thinking about purchasing a 1993 Jeep Wrangler 4.0 with 82,000 miles, how can I tell if it is a Sahara?

  • AJ Quick

    October 13th, 2011

    Lew, It will say “Sahara” on the fenders. There are also a few other things you will have standard… like the 4.0L Engine, Side step flairs.. etc.

    But the most noticible thing is gonna be the interior. The 92-94 Saharas all had a green interior. The dash is still grey, but the seats, console, door panels and carpet are all dark green.

  • Lew

    October 14th, 2011

    Hmm, this definitely isn’t a Sahara in that case. The interior is all tan, the dash too.

    Well, here is the one I was looking at: http://goo.gl/0aC0l

    Looks like it could become a JP Jeep. Biggest requirements are the half doors, wheels, bumpers etc.

    But if it isn’t a Sahara I might pass on it.

  • Joseph

    November 17th, 2011

    I have a 1993 yj wrangler witth alot of potential. Will that model and year do the job?

  • AJ Quick

    May 24th, 2012

    Any 87-95 Jeep will work.

    Only the 1992 Jeep Sahara is accurate, with the 93-94 Sahara models being your next best bet.

  • Marc

    June 11th, 2012

    Does Sahara only have green interior?

  • AJ Quick

    September 22nd, 2012

    Yes. The 92-94 Sahara is the ONLY Jeep with the correct green interior.

  • Jeff

    October 19th, 2012

    Actually, the ’95 Wrangler was also produced in ’96, both years, but was also called a ’95! Both years were exactly the same models, so….Production never stopped. Also I once worked with someone who had worked in the Toledo Factory & was there in the mid 90’s. I have a ’93, 19 years and rust is hitting frame & windshield frame just where you said. Body is good except right above both front wheels on fender at same spot. I’ll wait for winter to pass here in NorthEast, then lots of work in ’13! Salt on roads sucks, kills all metal!

  • ian kite

    January 30th, 2013

    I have wanted one of these ever since I wad a little kid and i always wondered how it would look on a new wrangler so I decided that I was going to buy a newer rubicon and turn it into one but I cant seem to find the film accurate colors. I have already made a pre-rendering on forza horizon’s website. If anyone knows the color codes it would be much appreciated.

  • AJ Quick

    January 30th, 2013

    The correct color used in the film isn’t a color that is available anymore. In fact it was only available in 1992. It is called “Sand Biege” Metallic Poly (LJ1). You might be able to find a suitable tan colored Jeep though.

  • Andrew

    January 30th, 2013

    is there a way one could make a Cherokee into somthing like a VIP transport or a crew carrior. just wondering JP is one of my favorite franchise

  • AJ Quick

    January 30th, 2013

    You could do whatever you think is cool!

  • brantheman1121

    May 14th, 2013

    what colors can be used that can work? also has anyone found an interior paint that will work for the dash and the carpet?

  • AJ Quick

    May 17th, 2013

    Only the sand beige is accurate… but lots of people have made replicas from all kinds of different colors. Any tan / grey / khaki Jeep should look pretty decent. The carpet doesn’t need to be green, and the dash is just the standard 92-94 grey. There is a good green spray paint out there that can be used to closely match the door panels and center console.

  • Christian Cisneros

    July 31st, 2013

    Do you know the font and sizes needed for the decals? I actually work part time in a sign shop doing graphics so I want to get some made for my build. any help would be appreciated.

  • AJ Quick

    August 1st, 2013

    Check out this thread on the forums. I believe it will have what you are looking for: http://www.jurassicparkjeep.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=93

  • Shelb

    August 9th, 2013

    I was lucky enough to stumble across a 92 Sahara in sand. As far as I can tell seats,carpet, dash, mirrors, etc are OME except the center arm rest/box.

    It needs a tune up, and there are rust areas of concern but I’d like to keep this as original as possible as I rebuild. The tune up is first and well in hand. And to meet the PA inspection standards I’m swapping the cracked side glass but keeping the original mirror hardware.

    Next would be as safari top for fun, and a replacement soft top (all the hardware and covers are there but the doors are shot) and center arm rest/box. Any recommendations on the best choices?

    Thanks

  • Brandon

    February 2nd, 2014

    Just want to say I’ve always loved JP ever since I was a kid. Now a college student, I have become once again inspired by the series hearing about Jurassic World in current production. As of the moment I have a ’89 YJ Wrangler in sight as a perfect base model with only 76k miles and no rust for $6000. I hope to have it soon and ready just in time for summer. Anyway, I’ll be here on the forum reading posts by others and maybe have a build process of my own to share.

  • Scott

    June 11th, 2014

    I stumbled across this website while listing my Jeep for sale. Take a look at the attached post. I think my Jeep would make an excellent Jurassic Jeep! 🙂

    http://up.craigslist.org/cto/4516446305.html

  • AJ Quick

    June 12th, 2014

    Actually. No, it wouldn’t.

    Its a 92 Sahara, that’s good. But the body work is all messed up. It is missing the sidesteps. It doesn’t have the right wheels. The only thing it has going for it is the green interior and the seats… otherwise it would be a complete do over as far as the body is concerned.

  • Todd

    November 15th, 2014

    I am looking at purchasing a JP Jeep. There is an accurate 92 for sale and I should be able to get it for about $9,500. The JP conversion is done. Is this a reasonable price? What do most of you have as far as $$$ in yours? Thank you

  • Amanda Hibbs

    February 8th, 2015

    My husband and I have a red 94 yj that we are going to make into a crawler edition of the jp jeep, so there are crawler upgrades we will have done to the vehicle, as in flared finderwhells, larger meatier tires, and custom doors with carpet removed (less mold and mildew and easier to clean plus have dura layering on the floor to prevent rusting.) a 4 inch lift, with skid plates, and custom roll cage for added saftey, we are keeping the family cage since it’s our family driver as well. We are doing all the work out selves and it’s a definite cost saver especially since we are appart of a jeepers group and we live in hawaii where everything costs more than on the mainland. JP69 (hubby’s idea not mine haha) will just be a beefed up version compared to stock that will turn heads on trails or at conventions.

  • Eli

    March 1st, 2015

    I’m thinking about making a cool around town toy. I have the proper grayish 1993 jeep sahara. About how much would all the visual parts cost make it look like it did in the movie?

  • Vipersnake

    May 28th, 2015

    Hi, im thinking of getting a 1995 jeep ( cause of the galvanized chassis), you mentioned that that the only difference where color of the center console and dash and on the outside the third brake light and the windshield support brackets… can the interior be replaced with previous years? and on the outside what are the windshield support difference?

  • Kyle

    June 2nd, 2015

    Well I don’t have a YJ but I do have a 1973 DJ that’s about to get the JP treatment, right hand drive and all. The roof has been chopped, roll bar and light bar have been added. I need to build half doors and get to paintin.

  • James

    June 14th, 2015

    I want to buy a TJ instead of the Yj (Mainly because it is newer and no YJ’s being sold in Australia anywhere).

    I am wanting to find if it is possible to replace the front grill with a YJ and all the side skirting to give it the right look? would they all fit into place?

  • AJ Quick

    June 14th, 2015

    It is possible to do, but may require more parts than the grill to work. I believe you may also need the fenders and hood. There are a few conversions floating around on the Jeep Forums.

  • AJ Quick

    June 14th, 2015

    Yes. You can replace your dash with just about any 85-94 grey dash. Quadratec even has aftermarket ones you can buy.

    The windshield support difference are the bumps that are on the hood that support the windshield when the windshield is folded down. On the 95+ they are a round rubber stopper. On the 94 and earlier they are U shaped brackets.

  • AJ Quick

    June 14th, 2015

    It varies. You could spend very little doing a basic conversion with say red plastidip paint and decals, or go all out with proper paint, lightbar, winch and lights.

  • dewayne

    June 24th, 2015

    if you were having one painted, do you know the correct color codes?

  • MoinB

    August 7th, 2015

    I watched the Jurassic world movie and I fell in love with the 92 Jeeps all over again and I want to know if I get one in good condition how much would the co version be?

  • Joe

    October 27th, 2015

    Ok so I get the base was Sand Beige, what about the red? Anyone have a color code on that?

    Thanks

  • Steve

    January 27th, 2016

    If the Jp jeep is a Sahara, why don’t the fenders say Sahara?

  • Steve

    January 27th, 2016

    Never mind, I thought it was stamped not a sticker

  • Peter Hiscano

    March 8th, 2016

    A.J., not particularly a Jurassic question.I inherited a 92 red YJ that’s never spent a night outdoors. Original paint zero rust, less than 9,000 miles. Original soft top(a couple of patches where mice dined). We kept it on the farm for 23 years(previous was a 61 Willys, before that ’45 Ford army). It’s now street licensed, and I gave it to my 17 year old, who is going to bang it up. Is there a market for these old Jeeps? I’m wondering if I should just sell it and buy him a cheap Japanese 4 wheel drive. What are 92 Wranglers worth, in great condition,low miles? Thanks.

  • AJ Quick

    March 8th, 2016

    We have seen Sahara models with that many miles sell for around $9000. It will of course depend a lot on where you live and if there is a market for them. If it is truly in as good of shape as you state, it may go for $5-$8k.

  • […] it got me to thinking about an idea I once had of building a jurassic park jeep (yj) of my own. Buying a Jeep for Jurassic Park – Jurassic Jeep: 65 Million Years in the Making However, in my stash of info I also know that a CJ metal dash and a CJ grill will swap into a YJ […]

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