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Jeep for 1965: Gladiator, Universal, Wagoneer, CJ and DJ

Kaiser had gotten Jeep by buying Willys-Overland Motors in 1953; in 1963 the company reorganized to become Kaiser-Jeep Corporation, and in 1965 it started to put the Kaiser-Jeep name onto some models’ fenders, rather than just Jeep. In 1965, every Jeep had standard or optional four wheel drive. Military production was strong, while the US Post Office bought both vans and Jeep Universals (which would eventually become the Wrangler) for deliveries.


1965 Jeep engines

Power was up rather dramatically compared with 1964, with a brand new 327 cubic inch “Vigilante” V8 being sold with 250 gross horsepower at 4,700 rpm and 340 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,600 rpm. This engine, available on Wagoneer and Gladiator, included a 60 amp-hour battery, steel-backed bearings, hydraulic lifters, full pressure lubrication, and overhead valves; it ran on regular gas. The Tornado overhead-cam six was still standard on Wagoneers and Gladiators; it was the only overhead cam engine made in America, and had domed pistons, large valves, and closed crankcase ventilation. Power output from the 230.5 cubic inch engine was 140 hp at 4,000 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm, making it roughly equivalent to the 225 cubic inch slant six from Chrysler Corporation.

Finally, two four cylinder engines were offered - one gas, and one diesel. The gas engine was the Hurricane, standard on the Universal and Tuxedo Park; it produced 75 hp at 4,000 rpm and 114 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, with intake valves in the head (fed by a Carter YF carburetor) and exhaust valves in the block itself. The Hurricane directly replaced the famous and venerable “Go-Devil” flat-head four, which had produced 65 hp.

The diesel was a Perkins model, made in England (Chrysler Corporation would also use Perkins diesel engines in their British trucks), with 60 horsepower at 3,000 rpm but 143 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,350 rpm.

Jeep Universal: Tuxedo Park and CJ series

universalThe Jeep Universal was America’s most popular small 4x4, but Jeep production of all vehicles was under 110,000 units, so it could not be compared in sales to even the least popular mainstream cars. At the time, to be fair, trucks were not generally driven by ordinary people; the pickup-SUV-minivan era was decades away, and would be ushered in partly by Jeep’s success with the more upscale Wagoneers and, later, the runaway success of the Cherokee.

Jeep engineers and marketing people were trying to crack the mass market even in the Kaiser days, resulting in the Tuxedo Park. The Tuxedo Park Mark IV was “a new idea in sports cars ... the sportiest, most FUNctional car on the automotive scene.” Essentially a CJ, it had chrome bumpers, hood latches, gas camp, mirror, and tail lamp trim; it had optional power takeoff equipment to winch boats, plow snow, and do other work normally left to bigger trucks. Two wheelbases were available, 81 and 101 inches, with a variety of convertible top and seat colors. Front bucket seats were available, in “pleated British calf grain vinyl.” The Tuxedo Park was a new idea, and though it didn't work out to be a great sales success, Jeep did eventually end up with more non-utility sales thanks to the Wagoneer. (The Mark IV referred to past Tuxedo Park trimlines, the most recent of which had been the Mark III, which may have been part of the sales failure - customer confusion. The Mark IV was “more different” than past models had been; even so, with the muscle car race heating up, trying to sell a low Jeep as a sports car ran counter to everyone else’s marketing and fervor.)

jeep CJ tops

Universal models carrying forward from 1964 included the CJ-3B, CJ-5, and CJ-6. Servo-type drum brakes were used on all wheels, with bonded linings and a ten inch drums. Springs were variable rate for a good combination of smooth ride (for an off-roader) and high capacity. On three-speed models, the shift lever was moved to the steering column to provide extra leg-room; four-speed models used a floor shift. A single lever controlled four wheel drive mode, with no stopping required to get in or out of four wheel drive

Not much was standard on the Universal: oil filter, oil bath air cleaner, directional signals, anti-freeze, windshield wipers (without a washer), front seat belts, closed crankcase ventilation, front driver's seat, 35-amp alternator, body steps, and single lever transfer case. It could only be fitted with a four cylinder engine and manual transmission (with three or four speeds).

Options included a fresh air heater and defroster, ventilating windshield, front passenger seat, rear seats, windshield washer, inside rear view mirror, four-speed manual transmission, and hazard flashers. Options common to most vehicles of the time included power locking differential (though in this case, for both front and rear), overdrive, a 9.25 inch clutch, larger alternators, heavy duty springs and shocks, magnetic drain plug, and heavy duty engine fan. Not quite so common were items like a diesel engine, radiator chaff screen, winch, angledozer, rotary broom, compressor, mower, post-hole digger, snow-plow, trencher, and welder (not all of these were available on Tuxedo Park). Universal buyers could choose between full and half fabric tops, metal half cabs or full cabs, and convertible tops.

See the end of this page for a brief review of the CJ series.

Jeep Dispatcher (DJ series) and Fleetvan

The DJ model had a lower grille and hoodline, a special suspension, and different gearing from the standard Universal; its main function was to be a lightweight courier vehicle that could brave snow and unpaved roads, without needing the extra armor or bulk for snow plowing, farm duties, or rock crawling. The DJ, or Dispatcher, was mainly used by the Post Office, and many came with right hand drive and a special rearview mirror on the left hand side, by the front of the hood. Only a single bucket seat came with the DJ, though a full cab enclosure with sliding doors and a rear door could be added. The DJ-3 did not return for 1965, but the DJ-6 was added. DJ models weighed considerably less than CJs, and much less than most other cars on the road; and the price was also much lower, at $1,818 for the most expensive DJ-6.

The Jeep Fleetvan was essentially the DJ Dispatcher with the F-134 Hurricane engine and a van body; most appear to have been purchased by the U.S. Post Office, and not surprisingly their basic look continued onward to the later AM General postal vans. The FJ-3A (longer wheelbase) and FJ-3 were based on the DJ-3; the FJ-6, on the DJ-6. The Borg-Warner T-90 three-speed manual transmission was standard, with an optional Borg-Warner automatic. The postal service used many right-hand-drive Fleetvans. The FJ-3/FJ3-a were made from 1961 to 1965; in 1965 the FJ-6 was brought out, replacing the others. All were made in Toledo. The FJ-3 had an 81 inch wheelbase and 135 inch length, and was 90 inches tall and 65 inches wide; the FJ6 was similar but a full 154 inches long, based on the 101 inch Universal wheelbase. It lasted until the modern FJ-9 in 1975, a good long ten year run.


gladiator stake truck

The Gladiator pickup truck was based on the Wagoneer; it was sold in both rear wheel drive and part-time four wheel drive models. Wheelbases were 120 and 126 inches; gross weights ranged from 5,000 to 8,600 pounds; and the pickup boxes were seven or eight feet, with or without dual rear wheels (stake bodies were also available). New for 1965 was the Vigilante V8 and a General Motors three-speed automatic transmission.

The Panel Delivery version had 107 cubic feet of cargo area, about the same weight capacity as a half-ton pickup, and a shockingly tight turning radiius of under 23 feet. The bed was lower than conventional pickups, making loading easier; but ground clearance was actually higher for off-road use. A low gear ratio for off-roading was also helpful in tough situations. Hoods opened from fender to fender for easier servicing. As with the Tuxedo Park, four wheel drive was the push of a lever away, with no stopping needed, and an indicator light to tell when four wheel drive mode had been engaged (these features were available on both manual and automatic vehicles, and with both three and four speed manuals.)

1965 jeep gladiator

Gladiator trucks were fairly bare-bones in terms of convenience features; options included a fresh air heater and defroster, electric washer/wipers, locking rear differential, rear bumper, chrome front bumper, powre brakes, transmission brakes, four-speed transmission (included with the highest capacity model), air conditioning, radio, cigar lighter, power steering, external rear-view mirror, and the various Jeep appliances that were unusual on other vehicles such as angledozer, push plate, dump body, snow-plow, winches, and wrecker body (some options were not available on panel trucks).

1965 jeep brochure

1965 saw the phase-in of a new series of Gladiator trucks, basically the same as prior years but with the optional V8, and generally higher weight capacity; the numbering changed from, for example, J-210 to, for example, J-2500.

jeep gladiator features

Jeep Wagoneer

Just two years past its introduction, the 1965 Jeep Wagoneer was advertised as being “the only four wheel drive station wagon with the stylish appearance and luxury manners of a modern family car!” That was true, at least in the United States; it could boast of variable-rate rear springs, servo-type drum braekes, and an optional three-speed automatic transmission, not to mention the usual power steering and power brakes. The design was strong enough to last for two more decades — which it did.

The four wheel drive control used a simple lever, without requiring a stop, and lit an indicator lamp when active. Jeep advertised it as having the biggest cargo area and largest tailgate opening of any wagon in its wheelbase class; it could handle seven foot long ladders, lying flat. It also had the lowest tailgate of any four wheel drive wagon for easy loading. The steering was improved for 1965 for less effort.

jeep wagoneer

1965 Jeep Specifications (except CJ-3, not available)

  Wagoneer Panel
CJ-5 CJ-6 DJ-5 DJ-6
Wheelbase 110 110 120 126 81 / 101 81 101 81 101
Length 183.7 183.7 188.7 200.6 136 / 156 138 158 135 156
Front Axle Capacity 2,500 2,500 3,000** 3,000** 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000
Rear Axle Capacity 3,000 3,000 4,500 4,500 2,500 2,500 2,000 2,000 2,000
Rear Axle Ratio 4.09:1 4.09:1 4.27:1 4.27:1 4.27:1 4.27:1 4.27:1 4.56:1 4.56:1
Effective Brake
Lining Area (in)
162 162 162 162 174 102.7 102.7 117.4 117.4
Clutch Area (in) 100.5 100.5 100.5 100.5 72 72 72 72 72
Front Suspension Leaf Leaf Leaf Leaf Variable
Rate Leaf
Leaf Leaf Variable
Rate Leaf
Rear Suspension Variable
Rate Leaf
Leaf Variable Rate Leaf Leaf Leaf Variable
Rate Leaf
Turning Radius (RWD) 20.5 17.5 20.7 21.7 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Turning Radius (4x4) 22.3 22.3 24.8 26.3 17.5* 17.5 21.3 17.4 20.0
Curb Weight (RWD) 3,588 3,388 3,159 3,202 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Curb Weight (4x4) 3,731 3,531 3,378 3,411 2,274 2,274 2,336 1,907 2,040

* 81 inch wheelbase; for 101 inch wheelbase turning radius was 21.3 feet, and weight was 2,336 lb
** 4x4; RWD, 3,500 lb

Other Kaiser-Jeep vehicles

Forward Control trucks were work vehicles with pickup beds, as well as Jeep-tested-and-endorsed specialized bodies from other suppliers including tow trucks, fire trucks, and even dump trucks; military versions of these trucks were also sold (M676, modified civilian FC; M677, four-door crew cab; M678, FC van; and MC679, ambulance.) Reportedly only about a thousand of the Forward Control trucks were built for civilian use each year, and the civilian line was dropped in 1966. Mahindra started producing FC-150 models in India, after assembling Jeeps from knockdown kits starting in 1947. The FC-150 was powered by a four cylinder, the FC-170 by a six.

The F134 Jeep station wagon, pickup, and panel van were dropped in 1965.

Military vehicles also included the Kaiser M715, a military truck used for transportation, command and communication, and towing; it was off-road-capable and could cross water as far as 30 inches deep, and could even go through 60 inch water with a special deep-water kit. A new Jeep model, the M606, was sold to nations receiving Federal military aid.

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