We, specifically the guy writing this story, took some heat in 2011 for talking about a 1976 Super Jeep in part three of our “70th Anniversary of Jeep” series. We received several scathing letters pointing out that the Jeep pictured in that May ’11 issue was a ’73 (which it was, as it turned out) and that there were no ’76 Super Jeeps produced. We had based our information on an AMC Product Planning Letter from 1975 that was found with the aforementioned photo that we obviously didn’t look at close enough. Ultimately, because we couldn’t verify the existence of any ’76 Super Jeeps, we more or less had to mea culpa in the August ’11 issue. We now, officially, UN-mea culpa.
About the time we were choking down that crow sandwich, Dennis Collins at Collins Brothers Jeep Parts, of Wylie, Texas, was bringing a documented ’76 Super Jeep to his shop and uncovering its history. Dennis is probably the world’s foremost expert on late CJ Jeeps. He’s probably restored more than anyone, certainly seen more than anyone and has the database and contacts to verify or document an unusual Jeep. His research uncovered a lot of information and he was willing to share this info with Four Wheeler and send some images quickly so we could break the story.
The Super Jeep story starts in 1973, when a limited run was made and sold into 1974. Yes, they were just a package special (with a few other required extra cost options), but it was an attractive package that included patriotic decals, color-coded to two paint choices, a special interior and a few functional features. It was “Super” in the looks department, but super performance had to come from the Jeep options bin or via the aftermarket. It isn’t clear how many ’73-to-’74 Super Jeeps were sold, but they made a big splash in Jeep advertising those years. They are now a rare and coveted Jeep collectable, bringing upwards of $25,000 in restored condition.
Moving on to 1975, it’s clear from documents that Jeep had contemplated resurrecting the Super Jeep idea as a nationwide option. That apparently went nowhere, but for the upcoming Bicentennial, the marketing folks decided to make a small batch of Super Jeeps for the car show circuit. Dennis Collins has uncovered that a total of 10 were built, including one special-ordered by a Jeep employee, factory-fitted with a 401ci V-8 in place of the 304. The serial numbers of these 10 were all very close, if not consecutive, and the 304 engines for them all were built in October of 1975.
The ’76 CJ-5 Super Jeep came only in the Alpine White with a 304 V-8 (except for the 401 Jeep). They had the blue Levi’s interior with a rollcage and full instrumentation, including tach, AM radio, and air conditioning. Other details included two Dick Cepek jerrycans, chrome spoked wheels, and Formula Desert Dog PCV 11-15 tires (equivalent to today’s 31x10.50s). The decals were nearly the same as the ’73 and ’74 Super, but with some additional stripes on the hood.
This Jeep was exhibited at the Dallas and Fort Worth auto shows in 1976 and then sold to a Texas rancher. It acquired 59,305 miles, but spent the last 15 years sitting outside on a ranch north of Fort Worth. After researching this Jeep, Collins restored it, top to bottom, inside and out, using all NOS parts and added a few (easily changed back) extras to his taste.
Collins reports three of the ten ’76 Super Jeeps built are known to still exist. That includes the 401-powered unit that remains factory mint. We’d love to show you that truly Super Jeep, but the owner wishes to remain low profile. Some Jeepers may sneer at all the excitement over a mere paint and decal package, but in the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds Jeep collector crowd, the verified existence of a small number of ’76 Super Jeeps is sure to get hearts a-racing. This one’s for you, collectors!
Vehicle: 1976 AMC Super Jeep
Owner: Dennis Collins
Estimated value: $55,000
Engine: 304ci AMC V-8
Power (hp): 150@4,200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 245@2,500 rpm
Bore & stroke (in): 3.75 x 3.44
Comp. ratio: 8.4:1
Transmission: 3-spd, Warner T-150
Transfer case: 2-spd, Dana 20
Front axle: Dana 30 (open)
Rear axle: AMC 20 (open)
Axle ratio: 3.54:1
Tires: 11-15 Formula Desert Dog PCV
L x W x H (in): 138.9x71.7x69.5
Wheelbase (in): 83
GVW (lbs): 4,150
Curb weight (lbs): 2,951
Fuel capacity (gal): 15.5
Min. grd. clearance (in): 8.0
Approach angle (deg): 45
Departure angle (deg): 30
Ramp breakover (deg): 29