Jeeps are some of the most adored vehicles among classic car enthusiasts as well as the average driver. With rugged designs and sturdy builds, these vehicles are capable of handling even the toughest terrains, and they’re highly versatile.
Some of the most beloved Jeep models in history were part of the CJ series, which lasted from 1944 to 1986. If you’re a Jeep enthusiast, you likely know much about this acclaimed series of models, but here are a few facts you may have missed.
The CJ Series Originates Back to the Beginning of Jeeps
The history of CJ Jeeps and Jeeps in general dates back to July 1940, a year and a half before America joined the Allies in the war effort against Germany and the other Axis powers in WWII. The US Department of War sent out a request to American automotive manufacturers asking if they could produce a prototype for a quarter-ton, four-wheel drive car. American Bantam fulfilled the Department of War’s request and created the Bantam Reconnaissance Vehicle, the predecessor for the Jeep.
The US Army gave American Bantam’s prototype designs to Willys-Overland and Ford because they had better resources to mass produce military-grade vehicles. Ford and Willys-Overland created vehicles similar to American Bantam’s original design, and the US Department of Agriculture tested these iterations by using them as farming tractors.
This usage inspired Willys-Overland to eventually craft the CJ series of Jeeps. While the war raged on, Willys-Overland produced the Willys MB for military usage, but once it became apparent that the Allies would ultimately win, the manufacturer began focusing on a new creation; one intended for the civilian population. They got to work manufacturing the vehicle in 1944 and released it the following year.
CJ Stands for “Civilian Jeep”
Willys-Overland’s new series was fittingly called CJ for “Civilian Jeep,” and the manufacturer initially converted their military Willys MBs to create the CJ-1. They accomplished this quickly by equipping it with a drawbar, lower gearing, tailgate, and a canvas top that was more in style for the civilian population.
Shortly after converting their Willys MBs into CJ-1s, the manufacturer moved on to the CJ-2 series, which shared the same 134 cu in Inline 4 Willys L134 “Go Devil” as its predecessor, but featured a different ignition system and carburetor. Plus, it had a 3-speed Borg-Warner T-90 manual transmission and produced 60 horsepower. Other mechanical differences were its 5.38:1 axle gearing, 2.43:1 Model 18 transfer case, and an upgraded 8 ½” clutch. Willys-Overland only created around 45 units of this CJ-2, and they weren’t available for sale.
The first CJ available to the public was the CJ-2A, also called the Universal Jeep. This iteration was still fairly similar to the original MB but featured a distinct seven-slot grille and larger, flush-mounted headlights. Willys-Overland produced 214,760 units starting in 1945.
Fire Departments Used Jeep CJ-5s
There have been many breathtaking classic Jeep iterations through the years, and one of the most impressive is the Jeep CJ-5, which was influenced by the Korean War M-38A1 Jeep and Kaiser Motors. The CJ-5 came with a standard 225 cu in “Dauntless” V6 engine with 155 horses and 225 foot-pounds of torque.
This iteration was a great improvement for the series because it was stronger and featured an increased length and wheelbase. This more robust design made it a great choice for fire departments. Many departments throughout the country used the impressive vehicle to extinguish brush fires, as it was perfect for forest terrain.
The Classic Jeep CJ-5 Was Part of a Presidential Parade
From 1964 to 1967, Kaiser Jeep offered the Jeep CJ-5 Luxury Tuxedo package, providing even more comfort and style than the standard. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson featured a Luxury Tuxedo Edition CJ-5 in his inaugural presidential parade.
Although every Jeep CJ-5 had much to boast about, the Luxury Tuxedo Edition was notably impressive with its sleek design, windshield hinges, and glimmering chrome front bumper. The vehicle also sported an incredible V6 with 160 hp.
Classic Jeep CJs Remain in High Demand
Although Jeep halted production on the CJ series in 1986, these vehicles remain hot sellers in classic car markets, especially the CJ-5. Additionally, these Jeeps are expected to become more valuable soon. Many classic car enthusiasts purchase these Jeeps and restore them to turn a profit.
Whether you’re purchasing a classic Jeep as an investment or you plan to keep it long-term, you need the best classic Jeep insurance on the market. For flexible policies that are perfect for your breathtaking ride, contact Classic Auto Insurance. We offer agreed-upon value as well as great benefits for protecting your Jeep, including inflation guard, rollover miles, nationwide roadside assistance with flatbed towing, and more.
Call our classic Jeep insurance experts today at 888-901-1338 or get an instant quote here.