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

unstoppableIn 1965, after owning Jeep (or, rather, Willys-Overland) for 12 years, Kaiser finally started put the Kaiser-Jeep name onto some models’ fenders, rather than just Jeep. The company had renamed itself Kaiser-Jeep in 1963.

Regardless of the name, it was a good year for Kaiser-Jeep, with around 108,600 Jeeps built, and a nice profit at the end of the year. New Fleetvan postal trucks helped to set a new record for their government sales, alongside the M606 military Jeep built for foreign countries. Kaiser-Jeep also now owned Studebaker’s Cheppewa Avenue military-vehicle plant and Studebaker’s military contracts, as part of a 1964 deal.

Sales for individual models were usually not available from Kaiser-Jeep, and this year was no exception; we only know they made around 40,846 four-cylinder vehicles, 50,578 sixes, and 17,167 V8s. Every 1965 Jeep had standard or optional four wheel drive.

Change came slowly at Jeep in these years — but there were some big changes for 1965.


Power was up dramatically from the top 140 horsepower six in 1964 to a new 327 cubic inch “Vigilante” V8 with 250 gross horsepower at 4,700 rpm and 340 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,600 rpm. Available only on Wagoneer and Gladiator, it included hydraulic lifters for low maintenance, and ran on regular gas.

1965 Jeep engines

The Tornado overhead-cam six (also called “Hi-Torque”) was still standard on Wagoneers and Gladiators; the only overhead cam engine made in America, it had domed pistons and closed crankcase ventilation. The 3.8 straight-six put out 140 hp (gross) at 4,000 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm, making it roughly equivalent to the 225 (3.7 liter) slant six from Chrysler (making it roughly 100 horsepower by today’s standards).

Finally, there were two four cylinder engines: one gasoline, and one diesel. The “Hurricane” gas engine was standard on the CJ/DJ series, and produced 75 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, with intake valves in the head (fed by a Carter YF carburetor) and exhaust valves in the block. This engine replaced the venerable “Go-Devil” flat-head four, which had produced 65 hp.

The optional Perkins diesel generated 60 horsepower — and 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 the segment was tiny, but it could not compare in sales to even the least popular mainstream cars. The SUV/minivan era was decades away.

Still, Jeep was trying to crack the mass market. The Tuxedo Park Mark IV was “a new idea in sports cars ... the sportiest, most FUNctional car on the automotive scene.”  This fancy CJ had chrome bumpers, hood latches, gas camp, mirror, and tail lamp trim — along with optional power takeoff equipment to winch boats, plow snow, and do other serious work normally left to bigger trucks.

Science-fiction writer Keith Laumer seems to have lampooned the marketing of the Tuxedo Park in several stories and novels.

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 “Mark IV” showed that this was the fourth attempt. 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, not to mention the low-power engine. Was it fun? Well, yes.

jeep CJ tops

Universal models carrying forward from 1964 included the CJ-3B, the longer CJ-5, and the even longer CJ-6. Variable rate springs helped balance ride and 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.

Universal Jeeps were basic indeed, including an oil-bath air cleaner, turn signals, windshield wipers (no washer), front seat belts, front driver's seat (no passenger seat), and an alternator, with a four cylinder engine (no options) and manual transmission.

Options included a heater and defroster, ventilating windshield, passenger seat, rear seats, windshield washer, inside rear view mirror, four-speed manual transmission, and hazard flashers, and power locking differential. Buyers could also get heavy duty springs and shocks, a magnetic drain plug, 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.

Jeep Dispatcher (DJ series) and Fleetvan

The DJ model had a lower grille and hoodline, and different suspension and gearing from the Universal; it was a lightweight courier vehicle that could brave snow and unpaved roads. The “Dispatcher” was mainly used by the Post Office, and many came with right hand drive and a rearview mirror on the left hand side, by the front of the hood. A full cab enclosure with sliding doors and a rear door could be added. For 1965, the DJ-3 was dropped, but the DJ-6 was added. DJ models weighed less than CJs, and the price was also much lower, at $1,818 for the most expensive DJ-6.

The Jeep Fleetvan, dubbed FJ, was essentially the DJ with the Hurricane engine and a van body; most appear to have been purchased by the U.S. Post Office. 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 was 135 inches long; the FJ6 was 154 inches long. It lasted until the FJ-9 in 1975, a good long ten year run.


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.

gladiator stake truck

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 radius 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, pow re 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, similar to prior years but with the optional V8, and generally higher weight capacity; the numbering changed as well, presaging the move from Ram 150 to 1500 by adding a 0 at the end and increasing the base number as well.

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 boasted variable-rate rear springs, servo-type drum brakes, 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 M606, mentioned earlier, and 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.

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