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1979 Jeep CJ-5
Silver Anniversary


 
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Silver Production

On this page we estimate how many Silvers were produced and how many are remaing. These numbers are estimates and will change as we obtain more information. If you have information on Silver production, please send it to eric@79silver.com.

The Number of Silvers Produced

Jeep planned to produce 1000 Silvers. Just how many were produced is uncertain. Each Jeep dealer was supposed to receive a Silver, as shown in the letter below (thank you to John Blair for providing this). There were approximately 830 Jeep dealers in 1979. Notice the date on the letter: March 21, 1979. This suggests that the Silver Anniversary program did not really get underway until April 1979.

The earliest known Silver in our registry is #27-622, which was produced in March 1979. Based on the engine tag, we estimate that #27-622 was produced around mid-March 1979. The Silver with the latest production date for which we have an estimate is #49-169. This Silver's engine was produced on June 20, 1979, which suggests the Jeep itself was produced in the first half of July 1979. Therefore, the Silvers seem to have been produced over about 4 months (mid-March through mid-July 1979).

All Silvers were built in Brampton, Ontario, at AMC's Brampton Assembly Plant, which had started building CJs in 1978. There are two stories for why the Silvers were built in Canada. The first is that the Quicksilver Metallic Paint (8C) had too much lead in it for use in the USA. The second is that Brampton was simply where the supply of 8C was kept because it was used on all AMC passenger cars, except the AMX, from 1978-1981 (see paint codes below). Both stories could be true: Jeep wanted to use a silver paint for the Silver Anniversary that was not used on any other Jeep vehicle. That meant that they had to choose 8C, which was an AMC, not a Jeep, color. So, the Silvers had to be produced in Brampton.

The interesting fact is that while the Silvers were produced in Canada, final "assembly" took place in Buffalo, NY. You can see this in the partial window sticker below.

The final assembly took place at [TBA]. We don't know what work was completed in Buffalo, but we believe it may have only included the addition of the "Made in Canada" sticker on the Silver instrument panel. It seems likely this process was the result of automobile export regulations.

John Blair spoke to a gentleman that worked in the Buffalo facility through which all Silvers flowed. He stated that the model year ended before every dealer was able to obtain an Silver and that only about 850 units were produced.

It is also possible to provide a rough estimate for how many Silvers were produced using the number of 1982 Jamboree's produced, the number of 1979 CJ-5s sold relative to the number of 1982 CJ-7s, and the difference in the Silver and Jambo production windows:

- The Jambo registry estimates that about 600 1982 CJ-7 Jamborees were produced between mid-February 1982 and mid-July 1982 (5 months).

- Jeep sold 41,501 1979 CJ-5s and 23,820 1982 CJ-7s. That is a ratio of 1.74 '79 CJ-5s for every '82 CJ-7.

- Jeep had 4 months to produce the Silver and 5 months to produce the Jambo. That is a ratio of 0.80.

- So, a rough estimate for the number of Silvers produced is 600 * 1.74 * 0.80 = 835 units.

So, we have two data points suggesting that fewer than 1000 Silvers were produced:

- A Jeep employee who worked in the Buffalo processing facility stated that around 850 Silvers were produced.

- Our rough production estimate based on the number of Jambo's produced yields about 835 units.

At this point, 850 units seems like a reasonable estimate for the number of Silvers produced. We will update this estimate as we obtain more information. Indeed, figuring out how many Silvers were produced and how many remain is one reason this website was created.

The Number of Silvers Remaining

Estimating how many Silvers are remaining is a challenge. As shown on the Registry page we currently know of about 125. As we find more Silvers, we will be able to refine our estimates. For now, we base our estimate on the 1982 Jamboree, for which we have lots of information.

The Jambo Registry estimates that about 250 Jambos are still in existence. That is about 38% of the number produced. We see no reason that Silvers should have been scrapped at a much greater rate than Jambos. The Jambos are, however, three years newer than the SA ('82 vs '79). So a bit fewer than 38% of '79 CJs should remain. As a start, an estimate of 25% remaining seems reasonable, if not conservative. That yields our estimate of about 225 Silvers remaining (850 * 25% = 213). That does not mean 225 are in original or even good condition. A large fraction of these may be in poor condition or even in salvage yards.

Stay tunned!

Production Details

At the risk of having to change our estimates later, we think it is worthwhile to provide some addition detail on Silver production.

Production seems to have begun in April 1979 and ended in mid-July 1979.

All Silver sequential serial numbers start with 8, signifying that they were produced in the Brampton Assembly Plant, located in Ontario, Canada. A 0-6 as the first digit in the serial number means Toledo and 7-9 is Brampton.

The Silvers seem to have been produced in at least six batches, with serial numbers ranging from 27,000 through 50,999. The first two batches seem to have been relatively small.

The largest batch was produced in April 1979, with serial numbers ranging from 34,000 through 38,000. We estimate that it contained about 230 Silvers (27% of production), nearly all of which seem to have been equipped with the 304/T-150 combo. This batch was probably the speculative batch that was sent out to dealers. Later batches contain a higher mix of 258s and 304s, which were likely special orders.

About 70% of Silvers came with the 304/T-150 combo. The remaining 30% were about evenly split between the 258/T-18A and the 258/T-150.

If you have additional information on Silver production, please email eric@79silver.com.

 
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