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History Of Off Road Jeeps - What's In Your Jeep? - Jeeps 2003

Posted in Features on March 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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History Of Off Road Jeeps - What's In Your Jeep? - Jeeps 2003
Photographers: Verne Simons

Jeeps have come from the factory with everything from three-speed trannies to three-cylinder diesels, and some of these parts are still in them. Did you ever wonder what engine, transmission, transfer case, and axle options your Jeep could have come with from the factory? Let us shed some light.

Since many Jeeps from before the '70s have been built, butchered, or restored, we'll start with 1970, when American Motors Corporation started changing the drivetrains. In February 1970, AMC bought Kaiser, and within four years production doubled. Remember that many of these rigs may have been modified where some to all of these stock parts may now be in a junkyard, or under a pile of leaves in your backyard. In addition, whenever we set numbers and dates in stone, some yahoo shows up with an all-stock rig with some weird parts that just shouldn't be there. So check and verify that these parts are indeed in there, and don't be surprised if they are not.

Little Jeeps-CJs, YJs, And TJsCJ-5 ('70-'83) The start of the round-fendered CJs came with the CJ-5 in 1955. With its S-shaped door and 81- to 83.5-inch wheelbase, no model lasted longer, nearly 30 years! As we explore the options from when AMC bought the Jeep name, we notice that the CJ-5 is also the first time small Jeeps came from the factory with a V-8. Those glory days of big power and short wheelbases from the factory may never be seen again. We define good cheap fun as a rusty abused CJ-5 with a 304.

CJ-5 Engines CJ-5 Transmissions CJ-5 Transfer Cases CJ-5 Axles
134ci inline-four ('70-'71) T-14A three-speed ('70-'75) Dana 18 ('70-'71) FRONT REAR
151ci inline-four ('{{{80}}}-'83) T-98 four-speed ('70-'71) Dana 20 ('72-'79) Dana 27 ('70-'71) Dana 44 ('70-'75)
225ci V-6 (’70-’71) T-18 four-speed (’70-’79) Dana {{{300}}} (’80-’83) Dana 30 (’72-’83) AMC 20 (’76-’83)
232ci inline-six (’72-’78) T-15 three-speed (’72-’75)
258ci inline-six (’72-’83) T-150 three-speed (’76-’79)
304ci V-8 (’72-’81) T-176 four-speed (’80-’83)
SR-4 four-speed (’80-’81)
T-4 four-speed (’82-’83)
T-5 five-speed (’82-’83)

CJ-6 ('70-'75) Ah, the CJ-6, another ugly Jeep based on a great idea. The longer 101- or 104-inch wheelbase allowed for more interior space and certain trail benefits, but the CJ-5 style door always seemed out of place with the extra length tacked on behind them. Lifted they look cool, but stock they sure are lanky. Give us one stock with a good frame and body; we'll swap in what we want.

CJ-6 Engines CJ-6 Transmissions CJ-6 Transfer Cases CJ-6 Axles
134ci inline-four ('70-'71) T-{{{90}}} three-speed ('70-'71) Dana 18 ('70-'71) FRONT REAR
225ci V-6 (’70-’71) T-14A three-speed (’70-’75) Dana 20 (’72-’75) Dana 27 (’70-’71) Dana 44 (’70-’75)
232ci inline-six (’72-’75) T-98 four-speed (’70-’71)   Dana 30 (’72-’75)  
258ci inline-six (’72-’75) T-18 four-speed (’72-’75)
304ci V-8 (’72-’75) T-15 three-speed (’72-’75)

CJ-7 ('76-'86) The CJ-7 started the silhouette of the next three body styles. With the squared-off door bottoms and 93.5-inch wheelbase, this body style started a trend that has not yet ended. In addition, the option of a straight-six engine and Dana 30 front axle can still be picked up at a current dealership under a new Jeep. There really isn't a bad version, plus you can most likely find something to add on if you are holding this magazine. We'd take any CJ-7 out there and just put the top down and go.

CJ-8 Scrambler ('81-'86) Bingo! The 103.5-inch wheelbase and extra storage space has made the Scrambler a sweet trail rig. Keep your eyes peeled for an 86 with a straight-six, a Chrysler 999 auto, and a Dana 44 rear. If you find one step away slowly and call us first. We'll take care of it for you.

CJ-8 Engines CJ-8 Transmissions CJ-8 Transfer Case CJ-8 Axles
151ci inline-four (’81-mid ’83) T-176 four-speed (’81-’86) Dana {{{300}}} (’81-’86) Front Rear
150ci inline-four (mid ’83-’86) SR-4 four-speed (’{{{80}}}-’81) Dana 30 (’81-’86) AMC 20 (’81-’86)
258ci inline-six (’81-’86) T-4 four-speed (’82-’86) Dana 44 (’86)
T-5 five-speed (’82-’86) Last 20% of
Chrysler 904 automatic (’81-’86) production
Chrysler 999 automatic (’81-’86)  
CJ-7 Engines CJ-7 Transmissions CJ-7 Transfer Cases CJ-7 Axles  
151ci inline-four ('80-mid '83) T-18 four-speed ('76-'79) Dana 20 ('76-'79) Front Rear
150ci inline-four (mid '83-'86) T-150 three-speed ('76-79) Borg-Warner 1339 ('76-'79) Dana 30 ('76-'86) AMC 20 ('76-'86)
232ci inline-six ('76-'78) T-176 four-speed ('80-'86) Dana 300 ('80-'86)   Dana 44 ('86)
258ci inline-six ('76-'86) SR-4 four-speed ('80-'81) Last 20% of
304ci V-8 (’76-’81) T-4 four-speed (’82-’86) production
T-5 five-speed (’82-’86)
TH400 automatic (’76-’79)
Chrysler 904 automatic (’81-’86)
Chrysler 999 automatic (’80-’86)  

YJ Wrangler ('87-'96) The Wrangler showed up in 1987 and most die-hard Jeep guys pitched a fit about the square headlights. Today we see tons on the trail, and they stand up for themselves just fine. With the first fuel injection in a small Jeep these Wranglers stepped into the future of technology and wheeling. Give us a tan Sahara package from about '94 with the high-output (HO) six, AX-15 five-speed, and dark painted rims.

YJ Wrangler Engines YJ Transmissions YJ Transfer Cases YJ Axles
151ci inline-four (’87-’96) AX-4 four-speed (’87-’90) NP207 (’87) Front Rear
258ci inline-six (’87-’90) BA-10 five-speed (’87-’89) NV231J (’88-’96) Dana 30 (’87-’96) Dana 35 (’87-’96)
242ci inline-six (’91-’96) AX-5 five-speed (’87-’96)   Dana 44—export only
  AX-15 five-speed (MID ’89-’96)  

Wagons-Wagoneers, Cherokees, Commandos And LibertyThe Wagoneers, Cherokees, Cherokee Chiefs, Grand Cherokees, and Grand Wagoneers are Jeep's family-hauling, grocery-getting trail rigs. However, with the same names being applied to fullsize and midsize vehicle, and years overlapping it's no wonder if you're as confused as we are every day. The similar styling, yet many various sizes, allows enough room no matter how many rug rats you have. Plus with options like four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines, huge fullsize capacity, or light nimble suspensions, there should be one for every work or trail need. Our favorite has got to be a late '70s two-door Cherokee Chief. These fullsize rigs make the perfect hauler/wheeler/sleep-in-the-back-on-the-trail rig (note we don't have any kids yet, and reserve the right to change our vote if we ever buy some off the Internet).

{{{Wagoneer}}} Engines Wagoneer Transmissions Wagoneer Transfer Cases Wagoneer Axles
232ci inline-six ('70-'71) T-14 three-speed ('70-'79) Dana 20 ('70-'79) Front
350ci V-8 ('70) T-15 three-speed ('70-'79) NP208 ('80 -'91) Dana 27AF ('70)
258ci inline-six ('71-'86) T-18 four-speed ('70-'81) NP229 ('83 -'86) Dana 44 ('71-'91)
304ci V-8 ('71-'72) T-176 four-speed ('80-'86) NP228 ('85 -'91) Rear
360ci V-8 ('71-'91) TH400 automatic ('70-'79) NP242 ('87-'91) Dana 44 ('70-'91)
401ci V-8 (’74-78) Chrysler 727 automatic (’80-’91) Borg-Warner 1339 (’71-’79) AMC 20 (’81-’91)
    NP219 (’80-’85)  

TJ Wrangler ('97-present) The TJ was the prodigal son of the small Jeep family. Coming back home with round headlights and performance-minded suspension, it made even grizzly old Jeep gurus stop moaning. These rigs quickly became a benchmark for competitors to attain. We have even seen guys swap the entire frame and drivetrain under older CJ-bodies. Our choice? A '03-or-later Rubicon, but repaint it the Citron Pearl Green to match the '97 models.

TJ Wrangler Engines TJ Transmissions TJ Transfer Cases TJ Axles
151ci inline-four (’97-present) AX-15 five-speed (’97-99) NV231J (’97-present) Front
242ci inline-six (’97-present) NV3550 five-speed (’99-present) NV241OR (’03 Rubicon only) Dana 30 (’97-present)
Chrysler 32RH auto (’97-present)   Dana 44 (’03 Rubicon only)
Chrysler 42RLE (’03 Rubicon only) Rear
Dana 35 (’97-present)
Dana 44 (’97-present) Fullsize Wagoneers, Cherokees, and Grand Wagoneers (’70-’91)

Midsize {{{Cherokee}}} XJ (’84-’01) and {{{Wagoneer}}}
XJ Engines XJ Transmissions XJ Transfer Cases XJ Axles
151ci inline-four (’84-’01) AX-4 four-speed (’84-’87) NP207 (’84-’87) Front
173ci V-6 (’84-’86) BA-10 five-speed (’87-’89) NP229 (’83-’86) Dana 30 (’84-’92)
242ci inline-six (’87-’{{{90}}}) AX-5 five-speed (’84-’01) NV231J (’88-’01) Rear
242ci inline-six HO (’91-’01) AX-15 five-speed (’89-’99) NV242 (’87-’01) Dana 35 (’84-’01)
NV3550 five-speed (’99-’01)   Chrysler 8.25 (’91-’01)
Chrysler 904 Auto (’84-’91)   Dana 44 (’87-’89)
Aisin AW4 Auto (’87-’01)    
Midsize {{{Grand Cherokee}}} ZJ, WJ (’93-present) & {{{Grand Wagoneer}}} ZJ
ZJ/WJ Engines ZJ/WJ Transmissions ZJ/WJ Transfer Cases ZJ/WJ Axles
242ci inline-six ('93-present) Aisin AW4 auto ('93) NV231J ('93-'95) Front
318ci V-8 ('93-'98) 44RE auto ('96-'98) NV242 ('93-present) Dana 30 ('93-present)
360ci V-8 ('98) 42RE auto ('93-present) NV249 ('96-present) Rear
287ci V-8 ('99-present) 45RE auto ('99-'00) NV247 ('99-present) Dana 35 ('93-present)
  5-45RFE auto ('01-present) Dana 44 ('96-present, some were
  46RFE auto ('98) made with aluminum centersections)

Commando ('70-'73) We like Commandos. Commandos are cool because of the 101- to 104-inch wheelbase, removable hardtop, cool slanted back end, and great name for a vehicle. Believe it or not we like the one with the non-Jeep (almost IH Scout-looking) grille the best. Yes, we know it's blasphemy. Which one do we want? Well, one late blurry night in North Carolina we saw a white '73 sitting in a used car lot with 38-inch tires and the ugly grille. We still kick ourselves for not selling an extra spleen to buy it.

Commando Engines Commando Transmissions Commando Transfer Case Commando Axles
134ci inline-four (’70-’71) T-90 three-speed (’70-’71) Spicer 20 Front
225ci V-6 (’70-’71) T-14A three-speed (’70-’73) Dana 27AF (’70-’71)
232ci inline-six (’72-’73) TH-400 automatic three-speed (’70-’71) Dana 30 (’72-’73)
258ci inline-six (’72-’73) T-15A three-speed (’72-’73) Rear
304ci V-8 (’72-’73) T-18 four-speed (’72-’73) Dana 30 (’70-’71)

Liberty KJ ('01-present) The Liberty showed up and pissed off the wheelers who looked under it for a front axle. But for those looking for a round-the-town sorority sister car it seems to satisfy. We are sure they are great little rigs, and would happily get one for dear old mom. Otherwise just give us the one to cut up. We'd either put portal axles and Swampers under it and chop the roof, or swipe the hood and grille and stick 'em on our rock buggy.

Liberty Engines Liberty Transmissions Liberty Transfer Cases Liberty Axles  
2.4L inline-four 45RFE auto ('01-present) NV231J Front Rear
3.7L V-6 ('02) NV3550 five-speed ('01-present) NV242 Dana 30 IFS Dana 35
  {{{Chrysler}}} 8.25

Trucks-Gladiators, J-Trucks, And ComancheGladiator ('70-'71) and J-trucks ('72-'87) Gladiators and J-Trucks were the last of the big pickups from the Jeep camp. With the options of big, bigger, and biggest V-8s, not to mention some stout axles, it's too bad they can't still be had new. Nothing says "farm truck" like one of these rigs. Give us the 401, a Dana 60 rear axle, and a set of old tires, and let the smoke show begin.

J-Truck Engines J-Truck Transmissions J-Truck Transfer Cases J-Truck Axles
232ci inline-six (’70) T-15 three-speed (’70-’79) Dana 20 (’70-’79) Front
350ci V-8 (’70, Buick engine) T-18 four-speed (’70-’87) NP208 (’80 -’87) Dana 44 (’70 -’87)
258ci inline-six (’70-’87) T-176 four-speed (’80-’86) NP229 (’83 -’86) Rear
304ci V-8 (’70-’72) TH400 automatic (’70-’79) NP228 (’85 -’87) Dana 44 (’70 -’87)
360ci V-8 (’70-’87) Chrysler 727 automatic (’80-’87) Borg-Warner 1339 (’71-’79) Dana 60 (’70 -’87)
401ci V-8 (’74-78)   NP219 (’80-’85)  

Comanche MJ ('86-'92) The Comanche came along with hopes of taking on the Asian minitruck market as well as the Ford Ranger. It did a good job with 113- and 120-inch wheelbase models. With their weird semi-unibody frame they may not seem like the sturdiest vehicles, but we have seen near-stock units take an undeserved beating and come back for more. Give us a shortbed with a four-banger and a five-speed. We'll lift it and trim the fenders until knobby 33s fit, then pile in the dog, cooler, and marshmallows, and go camping.

MJ Engines MJ Transmissions MJ Transfer Cases MJ Axles
151ci inline-four ('86-'92) AX-4 four-speed ('86-'89) NP208 ('86-'92) Front
126ci inline-four diesel ('86, export only) BA-10 five-speed ('87-'89) NP228 ('86-'87) Dana 30 ('86-'92)
173ci V-6 ('86) AX-5 five-speed ('89-'92) NP231J ('88-'92) Rear
242ci inline-six ('87-'92) Chrysler 904 auto ('86) NP242 ('88-'92) Dana 35 ('86-'92)
Aisin AW4 auto ('87-'92) Dana 44 ('86-'92, metric-ton model)
Chrysler 811/44

Illustrated Buyers Guide, Jeep by Jim AllenMBI Publishing

The StandardCatalog of 4x4's by Robert C. AkersoneKrause Publications

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