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!