Indecision 2016: Jeep Triage

DT reader “mister x” just sent in the following request for help…here it is, unedited and uncut: 

HOPING, PRAYING, someone could kick me in the right direction… sorry if i ramble a bit, trying to talk this out.  i am looking at THREE jeeps and i think my biggest challenge is really
understanding what i need/want (yes 2 different things i am finding and a
jeep just magnifies the issue!  Each has good and bad points of issue…. i love manual BUT this will be a DD as well as offroad.  I
would like to believe i will FINALLY go offroad  (bad roads, mud trails,
no rock climbing of note around here (muskoka Ontario Canada)… say i
am a “wannabe” trying to be a “real” jeeper (is that the word?) that
needs a winter DD (yes now IS the time to buy one when NOT needed)

in my “old age’ (50, but that is only 40 American!) i am less inclined
to do projects and just have something to tinker with, play with, and
mostly DRIVE… far too many “projects” i owned that came, drove once
and sold… i like odd but i realize i don’t like TOO odd

current cars are “keepers” (i.e. i don’t expect to sell in near future as enjoying DRIVING ..all picked up “cheap” >> summer DD is Saturn sky convertible top down even in the rain!… dumb and simple, auto that i shift alot but don’t have to transit connect as our “camper” 66 Lincoln continental convertible (needs a bit of work but niggly things so this “should” be the only project) wife has a fiat 500 sport yellow which she loves and is fun wont begin to list all cars owned

i bought stupidly a scrambler with minimal pix from the infamous “bert”
in NJ.. what a joke.. yeah mostly there but not what he claimed…
ordered replacement floor and side panels… got scrap metal from him…
asked for refund on that at least… 6 months back and forth with
nothing but lies and backtracking… anyway, lesson learned, selling at
loss as don’t have time for a project like that (told it was just a few
things, weekend at best… try weekendS like 52 or more)… sorry bitter
taste…. anyway, i bought a scrambler and a 1/2 for parts too… so
have a bit of a stash to work with too.

all the jeeps are around same price (under 10k each) so yes all good prices

stds are easy to shift but waffling if want auto or std since when used
as DD it can get tedious and most others in the family could not drive
(though would they anyway)…. just trying to be realistic…

i have owned far too many cars but never really a jeep (had an import
1992 willys jeep diesel rhd i loved but could not get my left hand to
shift as fast as the right could so sold)

barely had an hour for any to look over due to time constraints so sorry if i am ignorant of some basics

really need to make a decision TODAY to be fair to the sellers

#1 1983 jeep scrambler orange black 5spd manual 4.8l fi v8 gm engine 20k
invested! lifted barely any miles on it since rebuild… bit of
Frankenstein

 photo DSCF2171_zpse9n8xjem.jpg

#2 2006 jeep LJ unlimited silver stock height 4 spd auto stock 6cly
engine  186k km = 116 k miles 2″ body lift, body armour, new tires not
sure if regeared though

 photo DSCF1899_zpszjjtrbcx.jpg

#3 2005 jeep LJ unlimited silver lifted 6 spd manual stock 6cyl engine,
131k km = 82k miles, 2″ body lift, 6″ rough country adjustable long arm
suspension lift

 photo DSCF2249_zpsrxzcu4s1.jpg

#1 (pics here) is WAY overbuilt…everything replaced basically but at the “end” of a
project, bunch of niggly things all over… seller keeping racing seats
(fine by me), so need to mount seats, seatbelts,

body rebuilt at rear w/ 2x thickness (cannot oil can in like the stock
panel), checkplate bed, floors redone decent, black is all bedliner so
bit rough (looks kind of “tarry” but solid and shiny black; has serious
roll cage… i would replace rear with stock scrambler (i have one)
since not really doing anything in back except taking up bed!… the cab
has a separate roll bar that is connected to the rear under the cap…
need new seal at window, need spare mount, need wiring for lights, the
big install of engine/tranny works fine, (hydraulic clutch) so i would
say that is good…. 4wd works, has twin stick, could not try out
(disconnect rear/frt axles in variety of ways not sure how exactly), new
tires, new brakes, greasable leaf springs all around (good and bad) dirty under so not pristine as much as you would expect but still you
can see all new brake lines, manual sway bar disconnect, warn hubs,
chrome moly axles (he kept blowing axles/diff due to hp/torque of the
4.8), clutch good, steering is loose though… from pix might need new
box? same tubing for cage used on fender edges so no chance of damage! bads:  bedliner exterior, need to install seats, seatbelts, maybe gauges
(forgot to check if working), wiring here and there (lights) heater
core, fan, wiper arms, seal on front w/s, cap has sunroof “hole” (i have
another scrambler parts top i could use, no rear window, no bulkhead
(would be custom since front and rear cages connect just under the cap),
>>> not sure if leaf springs are a good/bad thing <<
comments??, steering sloppy, need to finish roof, rear window, rear
bulkhead, needs exhaust (cherry bombs out the sides), non tilt steering
(i think i have a tilt column in my “scrambler stash”)

lockers…. comments??? .. this has auto lockers front and rear…
“easy” to replace with electric?… i do NOT like the “kickout” lockers
have when going round corners and we do get ice up here in unexpected
places… rather control whether on or off… anyway… jeep is driveable on hwy apparently (could not try out, so
much to go over in the time i had) just not a long distance on regular
basis type

winch works, i would rework the rear cage; has spare full doors, not painted was regeared with the lockers, new ujoints, etc. etc. this COULD be converted to auto w/o messing things up too much (at least
in theory as that was the next step for the current owner)

#2…(pics here) LJ auto 188k km  this is the one with small tires on it… the REAL
tires are in one pic where on jackstands… the owner moved to an apt
block where only space to park is underground so had to use small tires
to drive it… this is how he currently drives it as a DD!! oy!…
regardless, new tires all 5, has body armour and diff/transfer case
armour, has extra recovery equipment too, has softtop (i would sell to
recoup some money… then i could install the scrambler top i have (yes i
know would have to cut the rear roll cage)…. also has hardtop but did
not come with that , so rear wiper does not work; has front and rear
bumpers with spare on rear bumper , operable winch, no laughing  monkey
issues (see youtube)… i realize not a real scrambler and you can kick
me out BUT it and #3 seem more civilized than #1 even though #1 is just
at the point where i guess you could civilize the cab at least has 2″ body lift, needs windshield, front fenders rotted, parking brake,
… did not ask if was re-geared due to larger tires… has rear locker
(again, not crazy about for DD

#3, (pics here) LJ 6spd manual 131k km this is lifted, but handles nice on road… re-gear due to larger tires;

bedlined floor (good) lift kit is good, has sway bar disconnect
(manual), new brake rotors and pads (4whl disc), 3 tops,…hardtop from
factory so rear wiper works, bimmi (over front and rear at top only) and
scrambler cloth top (dust cover over bed, up behind front seats and
over top like a cloth scrambler though rear braces stick out, decent
step up vs. the tube frames on #1 and #2 (good or bad) winch needs possible clutch, easier to replace as a unit, needs parking
brake, muffler, tires in probably a year, no spare or holder

yeah getting a bit tired writing all this so less detail near end!

hoping the collective jeep wisdom can come thru for me!

i know it is i that has to make the decision and usually not an issue…
but each has pluses and minuses enough that, well, thought one more
opinion could not hurt

buying in the next 24-48hrs and stupidly only now realized there is help out there!!

comments, etc.?

DT E-i-C; Jeeps all look the same to me, so I’m going to let our readers take this one.  Comments below.