1975 and 1976 Jeeps: CJ, Cherokee, Wagoneer, and Pickup
The 1975-76 Jeep lineup showed a company still quite in touch with its roots and its core audience, which was starting to find success with nontraditional groups. Farmers and contractors had long relied on Jeep to do tough jobs reliably, including snow plowing, general farm work, and of course offroad access. The 1975 Jeeps were still designed to do those things – and you could still get a snow plow from the factory – but increasingly AMC was reaching upwards, with the Cherokee and Wagoneer. Sales remained quite small by modern standards, with under 70,000 Jeeps sold in 1975 and about 95,000 sold in 1976 (the increase was due to the CJ-7), but with a single factory, a limited engine range, and very similar component designs, AMC managed to survive.
In addition to the various “traditional Jeeps,” there was a line of pickups named, for the moment, Pickup. Key features of these pickups included the advanced Jeep four wheel drive system and woodgrain sides. You could even order a pickup as a tow truck.
AMC was still using its own engines in all its vehicles. The line included a pair of straight-sixes (232 and 258, both fed by a single-barrel carburetor), and three V8s – the 304 with a two-barrel carb, the 360 with two or four barrel carbs, and the 401 with a four-barrel. The CJ came with the 232 six, with the 258 and 304 optional; the Cherokee came with the bigger six, with the other engines (except 304) available; and the Wagoneer with the 360 or 401. Electronic ignition was new for 1975, and standard across the board, replacing condensors and points.
The Jeep four wheel drive system was considerably more advanced than most competitors’ designs. Keeping in mind that this design was very unusual in 1975, let us quote from AMC:
Quadra-Trac is 4-wheel drive when you need it-automatically. A unique, controlled-slip third differential serves as constant monitor of the traction of all four wheels. Power is automatically distributed between the front and rear axles. Rear wheels maintain traction and push the vehicle, while front wheels maintain traction and pull the vehicle through turns as well as on straightaways, minimizing the possibility of skids and loss of control.
Unlike conventional 4-wheel drive systems, there's never a need to get out to engage hubs or shift a lever to activate 4-wheel drive. Quadra- Trac is always ready, yet it is designed for smooth, quiet operation - you might not even be aware that Quadra- Trac is working except for the improved control and handling you'll experience.
Whatever your 4-wheeling needs-Quadra- Trac is for you. If you're a man who likes to get as far away from civilization as you can, you'll appreciate the traction on steep hills and rough trails. Your favorite lady driver will appreciate the way Quadra- Trac delivers extra control and handling in slippery hazardous weather.
And when you hitch up a trailer to your Jeep vehicle and pile your kids and gear on boardyou'll be grateful forthe added stability Quadra-Trac delivers in crosswinds or the turbulence caused by large vehicles passing at highway speeds. (Note: An optional low range is available and is recommended for low speed, and high power demand situations).
How it worked:
Loss of traction/rear wheels. If one or both rear wheels begin to slip, the control center senses the change and power is automatically redistributed, with a bias to the front wheels.
Traction at all wheels. Quadra-Trac's unique controlled slip third differential feeds power to both front and rear wheels in direct proportion to their needs.
Loss of traction/front wheels. If one or both front wheels begin to slip, the control center senses the change and power is automatically redistributed with a bias to the rear wheels.
In customer care, AMC was quite proud of their toll-free telephone number, mentioning it several times in their brochures.
When you buy a Jeep vehicle you expect the utmost in ruggedness and durability. You should also expect the utmost in service and convenience. We have made every attempt to deliver.
Before you receive your vehicle, it will receive certified dealer predelivery service. Your vehicle will be serviced and road-tested to check such things as starting, handling, braking, and overall performance. A serviceman will sign a report certifying this service has been completed and place it on the visor where you can see it.
We've made some promises to you we fully intend to keep, but in case you have a problem and it can't be resolved by your dealer or the local American Motors office, we provide you a toll free telephone number to Detroit. If you have to use this number, we promise you'll get results.
Jeep was also proud of their durability, and for good reason: Jeep vehicles averaged over 14½ years of life, despite being used in off-road, industrial, and farm conditions.
Jeep CJ series
The traditional Jeep, known today as the Wrangler, was quite popular; the CJ series was available in both popular, sporty play-car trim, and tough, able, workman trim. A look over the options – air conditioning, CB radio, and Levi’s decoration, side-by-side with winches, push bumpers, and helper springs – shows how much variety was in the buyers. The Jeep was agile on the road as well as off-road, yet had a fairly comfortable ride compared with the Wranglers (YJ series) that would follow in 1986 (2007 and newer Wranglers excepted); the Wrangler would be given longer leaf springs, a lower spring rate, and a wide track to reduce the risk of rollover.
In 1975, AMC brought out a quieter exhaust system, more serviceable wiring harness, and electronic ignition, which was not in global use at the time. The suspension used leaf springs in both front and rear, with a full floating front axle, Saginaw recirculating-ball steering, and a box frame featuring side six cross members for rigidity. The engines (driven by a standard three-speed transmission with a floor shift, fully synchronized) could take leaded gas except for the 304 V8, which needed a catalytic converter. Base engine was AMC’s smallest powerplant, a 232 cubic inch straight-six fed by a single-barrel carburetor, but the bigger six and the 304 were also available.
Standard features included self-adjusting brakes, F78 x 15 tires, electric windshield wipers, fold-down windshield, 15.5 gallon gas tank, fuel tank skid plate, and oil gauge and voltmeter.
New for 1976 were courtesy lights under the dash; a day/night mirror; a new steering wheel; an instrument panel overlay; and a bright rocker panel protection molding between the front and rear wheels. New combination backup/tail lamps were larger and easier to see; a new windshield had screw-type hold-downs, easier to use, and an inside-mounted wiper motor; and a new energy-absorbing steering column had better anti-theft protection and a steering lock. A new option was the front stabilizer bar, now required on hardtops to prevent rollovers.
The really big news for 1976, though, was the CJ-7, which introduced the first automatic transmission ever to be used in a CJ, popularizing the vehicle among the non-shifting population and accounting for a sudden rise in Jeep sales. The CJ-7 featured Quadra-Trac four wheel drive, which had never been used in a CJ. It also had larger door openings, more front and rear leg room, and more cargo space than the CJ-5, thanks to a bigger 93.5 inch wheelbase. The even-longer CJ-6 was quietly dropped at the end of 1975.
The CJ-7, in addition to having a Quadra-Trac option (with optional low range) and automatic transmission, had its own injection-molded polycarbonate removal top.
Sales of the CJ series kept it a niche vehicle in 1975, with over 32,000 CJ-5s and not quite 3,000 CJ-6s sold. In 1975, CJ-5 sales stayed roughly the same, but the CJ-7 proved to be a good business move, with 21,000 sold. Both models would do even better in 1977.
Dealer installed options
- Swing out tire carrier (for easy access to tailgate); mechanical or electric winches with 150 feet of 5/16” wire line and 8,000 lb capacity; CB radio; air conditioning; push bumper; snow plow; pull plow; carpeteing; helper springs; rear step bumper; mini spreader; roll bar padding
Factory installed options
- Padded instrument panel (for safety; standard on Renegade)
- AM radio installed AM radio in a weatherproof case (with a fixed length whip-type antenna.)
- Forged aluminum styled wheels (standard, Renegade)
- Full soft top (a new design had improved visibility and larger door openings; available in black, white, or in Levi's® tan or blue, with Levi's® interior only).
- Power steering
- Rear seat: Foam padded vinyl bench seat
- Roll bar
- 304 2bbl V8 engine; power drum brakes (with V8 only)
- 258 6 cylinder engine; 4-speed manual transmission (with 258 engine only.)
- Steel Belted Radial Ply tires.
- Heavy-duty cooling system, springs, and shocks (front and rear).
- Rear Trac-Lok differential.
- 4.27 axle ratio.
- 70 amp battery; engine block heater; wheel covers; draw bar; rear bumperettes; outside passenger mirror.
- Levi’s interior (blue or tan seats in denim look, with matching instrument panel and sun visors; a matching soft top and carpet were available too.)
|GAW Rating F/R Axle||
2200 / 2700
|2650 / 3450|
|Axle Ratios||3.73, 4.27||3.54, 4.27||3.73, 4.27||3.54, 4.09 (opt)||3.21, 4.10|
Manual Drum (11"x2")
|Disc (11.9 x 1.1 )|
|Front Spring Deflection
Rate (Std 4 Leaf)
|190 lb/in||170 lb/in||210 lb/in||170 lb/in|
|Optional (7 leaf)||270 lb /in||230 lb/in||270 lb/in||230 lb/in|
|Rear Spring Deflection Rate||115/230 lb/in||185||115/230 lb/in||185|
|Rear Spring Optional Rate||270 lb/in||250||270 lb/in||250|
|Transfer Case||Dana 20||Dana 20||Dana 20||Dana 20||NV241|
|Head Room (canvas/metal)||41.0 / 40.0 "||41.0 / 40.0 "||41.3|
Jeep Cherokee and Wagoneer
Jeep made two upscale vehicles which were very similar in design: the Wagoneer and Cherokee, which had been split off a mere year earlier, as a two-door, lower-priced Wagoneer. They shared the same dimensions and wheelbase, but the Wagoneer had substantially better trim, including a woodgrain instrument panel.
Wagoneers were increasingly purchased by wealthy people who liked the rugged appearance as well as the comfortable, spacious interior; at least one insider claimed that dealers wanted Jeep to raise the price of the Wagoneer so it would increase its “snob appeal!” Had AMC executives done so, it’s quite possible the Jeep Wagoneer would have achieved the status of the Range Rover, while the Cherokee continued to sell with the aura of its more expensive brother.
The Cherokee’s and Wagoneer’s features included a standard floor mounted shifter for the three-speed manual transmission, steel top and headliner, electronic ignition, full floating hypoid open end front axle, multi-leaf springs, a 22 gallon tank, roll-up tailgate window, front bucket seats, energy-absorbing steering column, day/night rear-view mirror, padded sun visors and dashboard, and folding rear bench seat. New for 1975 were quieter mufflers and an increased gross vehicle weight of 6,025 pounds; in mid-year, the Cherokee Chief was brought out, with off-road tires, a 3.54 axle ratio, flared fenders, and a big label.
1976 saw an upgraded frame with splayed side rails allowing more widely spaced rear springs for greater stability; stronger crossmembers and box section rail construction; new multi-leaf springs and shocks for a smoother ride; and new body hold-down mounts to minimize vibration and noise. The windshield washer was improved; and a new forward pivoting front passenger seat was added to help rear passengers get into the two-door vehicle. These improvements of course also affected Wagoneer.
The base engine was the 258 cubic inch straight-six, but the 360 (with a two or four barrel carb) and 401 V8s were also avaible, and the three-speed manual could be upgraded to a four-speed with the 360 engines. QuadraTrac™ automatic four wheel drive was only available with an automatic transmission (made by General Motors). As with the Wrangler, the Cherokee used recirculating-ball steering, a full floating hypoid open-end front axle, front and rear leaf springs, and a full frame.
Options included the usual CB radio; AM/FM with quadrophonic sound (new for 1975); a center armrest; cargo area carpeting and insulation; electric window defogger (new for 1975, and only available with the power window option); luggage rack; power rear window; heavy duty springs and cooling system; 62 amp alternator and 70 amp battery; heavy duty shocks; rear Trac-Lok differential; tinted glass; free wheeling hubs; cruise control; tilt-wheel; front power disc brakes; power steering; AM radio; and various convenience features. A front push bumper, snow plow, front power take-off, and trailer towing packages were also available - as was an 8,000 pound winch.
The Jeep Wagoneer was essentially an optioned-out four-door Cherokee (or the Cherokee was a lower-level, two-door Wagooneer), including as standard features a GM automatic transmission, power steering, power disc brakes, and an upgraded interior. The Quadra-Trac system was standard, with a low range optional. The 360 two-barrel engine provided power even in base trim.
The Cherokee was a big seller by big-Jeep standards in 1976, with over 18,000 sold compared with 16,520 Wagoneers. That was far better than 1975, when nearly 13,000 Cherokees and under 10,000 Wagoneers were sold.
1975 Jeep Cherokee
1975 Jeep Wagoneer
|GAW Rating F/R Axle||3500 / 3540||Same||3215 / 3215|
|Axle Ratios||3.07, 3.54, 4.09||3.07, 3.54||3.07 V8, 3.54 I6, 4.09 opt|
|Standard Brakes||Manual Drum (11"x2")||Power Disc|
|Clutch Area||10.5-106.75 (V8, 11”)||(Automatic)|
|Front Spring Deflection Rate Std/Opt||200 / 260 lb/in||Same||195 I6, 215 V8; 215/260 opt|
|Rear Spring Deflection Rate||160/260 lb/in||Same||165 / 265|
|Rear Spring Optional Rate||230 lb/in||Same||265|
|Transfer Case||Dana 20||Quadra-Trac|
|Leg Room||45.0 / 36.0||Same|
|Head Room (canvas/metal)||38.6 / 39.5||Same|
|Cargo capacity, cu ft||91||Same|
Architecture of the pickups was, not surprisingly, similar to the other Jeeps of the time, with the same front axle, body-on-frame architecture (and the same basic frame), the same dashboard, and the usual 258 cubic inch straight-six hooked up to a three-speed manual transmission, with optional Quadra-Trac four wheel drive and GM three-speed automatic.
There were two basic models, J-10 and J-20; the frilly Pioneer model could be ordered as either one. An extended-wheelbase model, with a longer bed, was avaiable but only in J-20 trim. The J-20 included a standard 360 V8 engine with two-barrel carb and power front disc brakes. Both had a 19 gallon fuel tank, 50 amp battery, vinyl covered headliner and floor covering, day/night mirror, padded dash, dual padded sun visors, and oil and ammeter gauges.
For 1976, the frame and suspension were upgraded using the same changes as in the Cherokee, as were the windshield washers.
The Pioneer pickup added woodgrain exterior trim, carpeting, fabric seats, chrome front bumper, bright window moldings, bright wheel covers (J10) or hub caps (J20), dual horns, locking glvoe box, and other features.
Options included an aluminum cargo cap with windows and screens, lockable liftgate, and safety glass; an extra 20 gallon fuel tank (J-20 only); sliding rear window; four-barrel 360; two-barrel 360 (optional on J-10); 401 V8; Quadra-Trak; rear Trac-Lok differential; heavy duty battery, alternator, suspension, and cooling system; four-speed manual transmission; rear step bumpers, tinted glass; and convenience groups and items. Dealers could install a snow plow, helper springs, trailer hitch, front push bumper, and mini spreader.
Astute readers will notice similarities between the pickup specs and the Cherokee/Wagoneer specs. These are not a coincidence. Otherwise, it is unlikely AMC could have sold them; sales were remarkably low for all three pickups.
|GAW Rating F/R Axle||3200/3200||3500/4090-5500|
|Axle Ratios||3.54, 4.09||3.93 std, 4.09 opt|
|Standard Brakes||Manual Drum (11"x2")||Power Disc, 12.5” rotor|
|Clutch Area||10.5-106.75 (V8, 11”)||11.0 - 110.96|
|Transfer Case||Dana 20||Dana 20|
|Length||193.6||193.6 or 205.6|
|Wheelbase||119||119 or 131|
|Cargo capacity, cu ft||38.6||38.6 or 44.4|
For more, see our main trucks - and - Jeeps page.