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History of the CJ-5 - Jeep Autopsy: CJ-5

Yellow Cj5
Tori Tellem | Writer
Posted March 11, 2008
Photographers: DaimlerChrysler Corporate Historical Collection

One Of The "Unstoppables"

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?

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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.

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