The CJ-5 has the distinct honor of being a vehicle that was hard to kill off. It came in 1954 and left in 1984, equaling the longest production run of note (and before you send letters to us, know that those are Jeep's defined production dates, so we're sticking to 'em, but we'll grant you the '55 model year). The push was that the Universal Jeep was truly universal--stick it in agriculture, public service, transportation, communications, industry, and it would do the job--from street sweeping to "acting as a public address vehicle" because it was "the world's most useful vehicle." Hey, if it was good enough to rid the roads of trash and Bob's Big Boy wrappers, it was good enough for public consumption.
The CJ-5 was a bit bigger/longer than the CJ-3B and was based on the round-fendered '51 M38A1. Willys gave its latest Jeep Universal model lots of newness at launch. Completely new! New ruggedness! New dependability! New comfort! New versatility! The CJ-5 was stepping it up in the brakes, suspension, seating, and even the glovebox (now with cover!) departments. A new instrument panel, larger windshield, and hand brake were selling points. The CJ-5 graduated from Willys to Kaiser and then to AMC, saw itself get longer as a CJ-6 version, and even inspired the FC model--not a bad bio. Because of the CJ-7's arrival in 1976, the CJ-6 was dumped in North America.
Among the improvements made to the CJ-5s were a fully boxed crossmember for rigidity and flanged, overlapped sheetmetal for strength. There was a new, optional, all-weather top and a new instrument panel, plus the engineering refinements we mentioned.
In 1956 came the CJ-6, which had a 101-inch wheelbase and was 155 inches long; its curb weight was 2,336 pounds. For 1964, the CJ-5A and CJ-6A Tuxedo Park sports cars arrived, and in 1969, the brief 462 edition came out with skidplates and a swing-out spare-rubber carrier among the features. Come 1970, it was all about racing stripes, the Dauntless V-6, and the Renegade I; the Renegade II came the following year, and by 1972, it was simply Renegade. By 1974, it was a full-fledged model in the CJ lineup.
Specs vary on the CJ--some claim the overall length at birth was 135-plus inches, while others say it was 138 and change. But what is clear is that in 1972, the wheelbase of the CJ-5 jumped to 84 inches and the length to 142.1 inches, while the CJ-6 increased to 104 and 162.1 inches, respectively. Most of the increase came from the stretching of the front section, hence the name "long-nose" CJ-5 for the later years.
The Super Jeep had a brief life in 1973 and featured those racing stripes again, plus a chrome bumper. The Gold Eagle limited edition was an arrival in 1977, while the chromey Laredo joined the family in 1980.
By 1983, CJ choices were simply the Renegade and a base model. And because we know you can't take the anticipation anymore, the infamous Levi's upholstery made its debut in 1975. And the DJ-5 and DJ-6 were two-wheel-drive versions of the CJs. Numerous seemingly collectable versions of the CJ-5 were also built. Did you know there was a Playboy CJ-5?
Under the hood of the original CJ-5 and CJ-6 was a four-cylinder Hurricane F-head with an optional compression ratio of 7.4:1 for high altitude. It had rotating exhaust valves, cast-in-head intake manifolds,aluminum-alloy pistons, and with the intake valves in the head and the exhaust ones in the block in an effort to improve gas mileage. Then 1965 brought the 225ci Dauntless V-6, which made 160 gross horsepower at 4,200 rpm and 235 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm. Wedge-shaped combustion chambers and a deep-skirt block were utilized for longevity. The V-6's bore-and-stroke was 3.75x3.40-inch, with 9.0:1 compression. For 1967, a two-barrel carb was used, gaining 5 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque.
The optional two-barrel V-8 came in 1972--it was a 304 that made 150 net horsepower at 4,200 rpm and 245 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm, with an 8.4:1 compression ratio and 3.75x3.44-inch bore-and-stroke. Additionally, the AMC one-barrel 232ci became the base engine (except in California), replacing the Hurricane. It made 100 hp at 3,600 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm and had an 8.0:1 compression ratio; it ran a 3.75x3.50-inch bore-and-stroke. An optional one-barrel 258ci V-6 was available (standard in Cali), with 110 hp at 3,500 rpm, 195 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, and a 8.0:1 compression ratio; the bore-and-stroke was 3.75x3.90-inch. Gone by 1979 was the 232, with the standard becoming the 258, now with a two-barrel carb. Getting the V-8 in California required power steering.
A 151ci four-cylinder built by GM (their Iron Duke) debuted in 1980 (Jeep called it Hurricane again), which was a two-barrel with a 8.2:1 compression ratio and 4.00x3.00-inch bore-and-stroke. It made 82 hp at 4,000 rpm and 125 lb-ft of torque at 2,600 rpm until 1983, when there was only the 258.
Out of the box, there was a BorgWarner T-90 manual three-speed, followed by a BorgWarner T-14 for the V-6. An optional T-98 heavy-duty four-speed was available for the CJ-5 Hurricane starting in 1966; the three-speed with the V-6 was fully synchronized. The 232 and 258 could be hooked to a three- or four-speed, while the 304 was mated to a three-speed; again, only the CJ-5 could opt for the four-speed.
A mandatory option (nothing like an automotive oxymoron) with the four-speed and the six-cylinder was a heavy-duty frame. In 1971, the T-14 three-speed was fully synchronized with the V-6; the four-cylinder had an optional T-98 four-speed. In 1972, the 232 and 258 used a BorgWarner T-14 three-speed and a T-18 four-speed; the V-8 ran with the T-15 three- and T-18 four-speed. In 1976, the Tremec T-150 three-speed was used, then the Tremec T-176 starting in 1980.
The Dana Spicer Model 18 was the first; the switch to Dana Model 20 started in 1972. By 1980, it was a Dana 300.
The CJs used semi-elliptic leaf springs both front and rear. The front axle was a full-floating Dana Spicer 25 until it was switched to a Dana Spicer 27 in 1966. The rear was a semi-floating 44, with available gearing of 4.27s until 1967; those were 3.54s. For 1972, the front axle was a full-floating Dana 30; the rear went to a semi-floating AMC 20 in 1976; 3.54s and 4.09s were available. A Powr-Lok diff was available starting in 1966, and Trac-Lok came in 1971, which was standard equipment on the Renegade.