Old Jeep Truck Spotter’s Guide!
While there’s a lot to enjoy about the 2022 Jeep Gladiator, there’s something that feels so right about the simple mechanics of an old Jeep truck, still working hard after years of faithful service.
Not everybody is as studied up on the history of Jeep as we are here at McLarty Daniel Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Bentonville, AR! So, seen below, check out our Spotter’s Guide to Old Jeep Trucks, starting with the original all the way back in 1947.
Look it over, and you’ll soon be on your way to identifying vintage Jeep trucks wherever you find them.
And when you’re ready to purchase your own Jeep that’s ready to serve for years to come, stop in at McLarty Daniel CDJR Bentonville for the best selection in Northwest Arkansas!
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The old Jeep pickup that started it all, the Willys-Overland Truck borrowed much of its styling from the Willys station wagon, including the doors, fenders, grille, bumpers and hood.
Marketed as “The Jeep Truck” in advertising to win over World War II vets who drove flat-fender Jeeps in the war, it was one of the first commercially-available 4×4 half-ton trucks, beating Ford and Chevy to factory four-wheel-drive in their light-duty trucks by a full decade.
Around 200,000 Willys-Overland trucks were produced during the 18-year production run.
- Vertically-slotted grille, with a pronounced peak in the middle
- Two rounded rectangular indents in each door
- Round, chrome-rimmed headlights with amber parking lights
- Side-mounted spare carrier on the driver’s side
- Angular, flat-sided front and rear fenders
- Pre-1961 models have a two-piece windshield with a vertical bar in the center, while those produced later have a one-piece windshield.
Maybe the weirdest old Jeep truck you’ll ever encounter, the 1957-1965 Jeep FC-150 “Forward Control” is also the rarest. Built on the same short-wheelbase chassis as the Jeep CJ-5, the Jeep FC-150 featured a funky, flat-nosed design that might bring to mind a VW van rather than a Jeep.
With the driver sitting directly over the front axle, the Jeep FC-150 was too quirky for most buyers. However, it was a big hit with farmers, ranchers, loggers and construction firms, who liked its 6.5-foot bed, go-anywhere 4×4 capability, maneuverability and tight turning radius.
Though demand started strong with 10,000 sold in 1957, sales of the Jeep FC-150 and heavy-duty variants like the FC-170 and FC-190 fell steadily after the first year. Just under 30,000 Jeep Forward Control trucks were produced before the model was discontinued in 1965.
- Unmistakable flat-nosed design
- Slightly-recessed keystone-shaped grille with round headlights and parking lights
- 81-inch wheelbase, with a turning radius of just 18 feet
- Flat-sided, faceted rear fenders and side-mounted spare
- One of the shortest production American trucks ever made, at just 147.5 inches
- Fun fact: the Jeep FC-150 has a factory-installed counterweight under the bed floor so it doesn’t tip over on its nose in a hard stop
Given how many years the Jeep J-series pickup was produced, if you see an old Jeep truck on the street, there’s a great chance it’s a J-series. In production for an incredible 24 years, the Jeep J-series was the brand’s ultimate “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” pickup.
Sold under the model name “Gladiator” until 1971 (yep, that’s where Jeep got the name for the latest Jeep truck) the Jeep J-series borrowed the doors, hood, grille and other interior and exterior components from the Jeep Wagoneer SJ.
Because of this shared styling, the Jeep J-series would see mostly minor cosmetic upgrades over two and a half decades. Though the grille and interior often changed, most of the exterior sheet metal and many major mechanical components of the Jeep J-series remained pretty much the same.
- Flat-backed cab with either small- or big-window back glass
- Visor-style lip over the front windshield
- Hood and front fenders create a “leaned-forward” angle to the grille
- Pre-1970 Jeep J-series models have a narrow, tombstone-style grille
- Post-1970 J-series models have full-width front grilles of various designs
- 1979 and later Jeep J-series feature rectangular headlights
Kaiser Jeep M-715
The old Jeep truck that went to war, the Jeep M-715 was a 1-1/4 ton truck built by the thousands for service during the Vietnam conflict, where the rugged reliability of the M-715 came in handy when taking on soggy terrain.
To help keep costs low for Uncle Sam, much of the body for the Jeep M-715 was created from stampings for the civilian Jeep J-series Gladiator, including the cab, doors, fenders and hood.
As such, the M-715 is considered the first U.S. military combat vehicle to be adapted from a civilian design. The “stepside” cargo box, however, was unique to the Jeep M-715, as was the M-715’s convertible cloth top and lay-down windshield frame.
- Retractable cloth top (usually OD green) with frameless doors
- Hinged windshield that can be laid flat against the hood
- Large, half-round wheel arches with simple metal-strip fender flares
- Spring-loaded hood latches at the left and right side of the hood
- The Jeep M-715 is the truck version of the Jeep Kaiser M-725 Ambulance
Jeep Comanche (MJ)
The final Jeep truck produced before the introduction of the Wrangler-based Jeep Gladiator JT in 2018, the Jeep Comanche followed Jeep’s tried-and-true formula of adapting their trucks from their successful SUV designs.
First introduced for the 1986 model year, the Jeep Comanche shared its front fenders, hood, grille, doors and many interior components with the then-new Jeep Cherokee XJ sport utility vehicle, which had debuted two years earlier.
Another odd trait that the Jeep Comanche shared with the Jeep Cherokee: the Cherokee’s “uniframe” design, which skipped the traditional frame found in most trucks in favor of boxed steel rails welded to the underside of the body.
- 1986-87 models have 10 slots in the grille, while 1988-92 models have eight slots
- Shares the front doors with the four-door Cherokee, with a black-plastic trim behind the door
- Jeep Comanche “Sport” models have a six-foot bed, while “Comanche Chief” models have a seven-foot bed
- Rare “Olympic Edition” models commemorate the 1988 Summer Olympics
- Top-of-the-line trim was the 1987-1990 Jeep Comanche Laredo
Have we got you feeling confident you can spot any old Jeep truck you see on the street? In any case, we hope you found something to love in our spotter’s guide to vintage Jeep trucks.
Ready to get out of the past and into the future of Jeep trucks? Then come see us today at McLarty Daniel Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Bentonville to check out our full lineup of 2022 Jeep Gladiator trucks, or shop our selection online right now!
MORE ON THE HISTORY OF JEEP TRUCKS, FROM JEEP
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