Jeep Pickup Trucks: A Brief History

Jeep Pickup Trucks: A Brief History

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Andrew Boyle

The Jeep Pickup Truck had come a long way from its first introduction in 1947 as the Willy’s-Overland Jeep 4x4 Truck to the last Chrysler Jeep Comanche produced in 1992. Over that 45 year run, there were a total of six different Jeep pickup models and multiple ownership changes. This infographic shows each of the Jeep pickup trucks that were available with some interesting facts.

[click the infographic below]

Jeep Pickup Truck History

Willys-Overland Jeep 4x4 Truck

The first Jeep Pickup Truck, manufactured from 1947 to 1965, was the Willys Jeep 4x4 Truck. This truck was a 1-ton, four-wheel drive truck and came available as a pickup truck, platform stake truck, chassis cab or bare chassis. In 1949, a ¾ ton two-wheel drive version was made. The earlier models featured the Go-Devil engine, a straight-4 engine made famous during World War II. This engine powered nearly all Jeep vehicles used by the US and its allies. In 1953, the Go-Devil engine was replaced with a four cylinder engine that increased horsepower. Over the course of its 18 year run, more than 200,000 of these trucks were manufactured.

Jeep FC Series

The Jeep FC, or forward control, was manufactured by Kaiser Jeep from 1956 until 1965. This Jeep truck was different from other models due to its cab over design. In addition to personal use, the Jeep FC trucks were marketed as work vehicles for corporations, municipal and military. The pickup beds were standard but outside suppliers offered additional body types such as tow trucks, dump trucks and even fire trucks. Some of the FCs were even converted into mini buses. After nine years and over 30,000 units manufactured, the FC line was discontinued due to its lagging sales.

Jeep Gladiator / J-series

The longest running Jeep pickup truck, the Jeep Gladiator, was in production for 26 years from 1962 to 1988. Even more astonishing than the long production run, was it only received minor mechanical changes over the course of those 26 years. AMC purchased Kaiser Jeep in 1970 and in 1971, the Gladiator name was dropped and it became known as the Jeep pickup with models names such as J2000 and J4000.  The J-series also acquired the AMC engine series. The AMC 401, known for its toughness and power output, was available from 1974-78 and produced 225 hp and 320lb-ft of torque. After Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987, the J-series was phased out due to its aging model. The Jeep pickup was also competing with the broader range of Dodge trucks that Chrysler offered.

Jeep Jeepster Commando / Commando

The Jeepster Commando came onto the market in 1966 to compete with Ford and Toyota’s truck offerings. The Jeepster had four varieties: pickup truck, convertible, roadster and wagon. AMC purchased Kaiser-Jeep in 1970, and the following year the Jeepster name was removed from the series. The Jeep Commando was manufactured for two more years until 1973. Over 77,000 Jeepster Commandos and Commandos were manufactured during its seven-year run.

Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler

AMC introduced the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler in 1981. The term “Scrambler” comes from an appearance package which included tape graphics and special wheels giving a very 80’s feel to it. The Scrambler was used by President Ronald Reagan on his California ranch. The about 230 of the CJ-8’s were altered for the Alaskan Postal Service. Instead of being a traditional pickup truck, with a rear-tailgate, these had a full-length steel hardtop and a hinged barn door opening in the back. As with traditional mail carriers, the trucks also featured right-hand drive and an automatic transmission. The Scrambler’s sales peaked in its first year and production figures were on a steady decline until the end of its run in 1986.

Jeep Comanche

In 1985, the Jeep Comanche was unveiled in the ballroom of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. The Comanche, the pickup truck variant of the Cherokee compact SUV, started at $7,049 and was meant to compete with the pickup truck offerings from Japanese competitors. Over the course of the Comanche’s run, there were 4 engine options and 6 transmission options as well as a 6’ and 7’ cargo bed.  After seven years and over 190,000 Comanches produced, the Jeep Comanche's run came to an end. The Comanche didn’t really fit into Chrysler’s overall strategic goals, and the low sales weren’t helping Comanche’s case. Dodge, owned by Chrysler as well, was also making pickup trucks so it made more sense for Dodge to focus on trucks and Jeep to focus on more SUV type vehicles.

2020 Jeep Gladiator

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator marked the much-anticipated return of the Jeep pickup truck. With an 18% longer frame compared to the 4-door JK, the Gladiator is a perfect pickup version of the beloved Wrangler.

The Gladiator has been given tougher axles than its Wrangler base, which will improve off-road performance. One exciting feature the Gladiator pickup truck will share with the JKs and JLs is the removable top. This will be a removable three-piece hard top or soft top allows owners to turn their Jeep Gladiator into a convertible pickup truck, the only one on the market today.

The Jeep Pickup Truck History
Production YearsModelManufacturer
1947 - 1965 Willys-Overland Jeep 4x4 Truck Willys-Overland Motors
1956 - 1965 Jeep FC Series Willys-Overland & Kaiser-Jeep
1962 - 1988 Jeep Gladiator/J-Series Kaiser-Jeep, AMC, and Chrysler
1966 - 1973 Jeepster Commando Kaiser-Jeep and AMC
1981 - 1986 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler AMC
1986 - 1992 Jeep Comanche AMC and Chrysler
2020 - ? Jeep Gladiator Chrysler

Source: Jeep Gladiator, Wikipedia

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