Jeep is a truly unique automaker, breaking into the industry as a complete game-changer for the military. During the height of the Second World War, early Jeep creators stepped in to develop an SUV that could handle the rough and tumble of the battlefield, and not balk or hesitate in the face of rugged obstacles. What resulted was an SUV that could do it all, and would eventually captivate civilians across the globe. Today, Jeep is a household name, developing a line of SUVs that are truly unlike its competitors. While other manufacturers may focus on things like spacing, fuel economy, or engine power, Jeep does it all, while adding the attractive flair of off-road capability. Jeep SUVs are remarkable, and since their start in the 1940s, there have been many Jeeps for sale that are today considered either rare or long forgotten. In this article, we’ll review some of our favorite forgotten and lost models that have cropped up throughout the decades.
The CJ-8 Scrambler
Before the Jeep Gladiator, other Jeep trucks drew the attention of utility and off-road lovers across the market. For a short five-year span in the 1980s, there was a Jeep model that fits right where the Jeep Gladiator sits now; the CJ-8 Scrambler. This Jeep truck drew initial popularity thanks to President Ronald Reagan, who was possibly one of its most famous owners. The CJ-8 Scrambler was a practical and fun off-roader that, in many ways, set the stage for the Jeep Gladiator of today.
Although, while the President at the time owned one, they weren’t exactly popular. At the time, the CJ-8 Scrambler fit awkwardly into the Jeep family, so it fell into obscurity.
Today, the CJ-8 Scrambler is a true gem, with its 4WD drivetrain and open-air styling. While still a quirky member of Jeep’s past, the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler is now a collector’s item, and with a V6 diesel engine packed into the hood, this is a Jeep truck that continues to provide some pretty solid performance even in an age where the lineup is slowly transitioning to including hybrid powertrains.
In the early days of the Jeep brand, manufacturers tested plenty of ideas, and one of them was a truck to be used by delivery companies. Known as the Dispatcher Jeep or DJ-5, this was a model that was often driven as an entirely open-air experience. Early models of the Dispatcher Jeep utilized bright colors, striped patterns, and an overall style that was all the rage in the mid-50s. The Dispatcher Jeep is a truly unique vehicle that is quite easy to find if you’re up for doing some digging. If you do end up finding one on, you will certainly catch some looks on the road.
Unlike the CJ-8 Scrambler, the Dispatcher Jeep was around for quite a while. First introduced in 1955, the line continued into 1963, when it was eventually renamed, and remained in production until 1984. Throughout the years, the Dispatcher Jeep saw many changes, going from the brightly colored buggies of the 1950s and 60s to models used specifically by the US Post.
From 1981 to 1985, Jeep developed the hefty, rugged, and rather intriguing Jeep CJ-10. The Jeep CJ-10 was a pickup truck that saw a lot of popularity overseas, and more importantly, in Australia. Known in the Outback as the “1 Tonner” this oversized pickup was all utility and no charm. While the square headlights and ten-slot grille have aged well over the years, the truck was certainly a curious member of the Jeep family at the time. And did we mention that it was a convertible? Yes, the Jeep 1 Tonner had a convertible soft-top option, which is something that we still have rarely seen since.
The Jeep CJ-10 had an interesting powertrain lineup, and it came in the form of a 4.2-liter AMC inline 6, which could be purchased with either a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. A 2.5-liter AMC 4-pot and 3.2-liter diesel engine were also available. A strange and small variant of the CJ-10, known as the CJ-10A, was developed and was a fan favorite of the US air force for hauling aircraft. Although only 2,000 of these military-haulers were developed, so this model is particularly challenging to find in the wild.
The Jeep Forward Control
Before the Jeep Gladiator, the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler, and the Jeep CJ-10 there was the Jeep Forward Control. Brought into the early Jeep lineup in the 1950s, this quirky truck sported a four-wheel drivetrain and a couple of different engine variants. One was a 226 cubic inch L-head inline 6, while the other was a 318 cubic inch V8. You could also pair these engine variants with a three-speed manual, three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission.
The Jeep Forward Control came in many shapes and sizes, some even taking on a more van-like appearance. The Jeep Forward Control was a popular pick for more than just civilians, too, as variations of the vehicle were used as fire trucks, vans, ambulances, tow trucks, and delivery vehicles. Some models were even tailored towards military service, a reoccurring trend throughout Jeep history.
The Jeep Fleetvan
In the early decades of Jeep, their designs were often used for delivery trucks and service vehicles. While some took on designs that look similar to the models that take to the road today, many more were peculiar imaginings that honestly haven’t been seen since. One example of that is the Jeep FJ Fleetvan. In production from 1961 to 1975, the Jeep FJ Fleetvan was a cargo delivery van that was primarily used by the U.S Postal Service. Throughout its many years of production, the Jeep Fleetvan saw a number of different stylings and uses until its end of production in 1975.
With so many iterations of the Jeep Fleetvan, finding one shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. Although, with a little over a decade of production, and having seen so many cases uses, the Jeep Fleetvan is certainly a bit of a rarity. And with only a 3-speed automatic or 3-speed manual transmission in all models, these Jeep cargo vehicles weren’t necessarily a spectacular performer.
Purchasing a Vintage and Rare Jeep SUV
Jeep has been around for quite some time, experimenting with a variety of rugged utility vehicles that began their popularity amongst the military and expanded outwards to civilians looking for a bit of rugged power. Today, the Jeep lineup looks very different from the way it did in the past and is one of the few brands to develop vehicles that are specifically meant for off-roading. The Jeep lineup will certainly continue to change, especially as the manufacturer turns to hybrid electric powertrains; however, the models of the past certainly still claim a lot of charm and appeal. From quirky delivery vehicles to convertible trucks, the Jeep family has had it all, and if you look hard enough, you might just spot one of these rare Jeep models on the road.