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Jeep for 1959, 1960, and 1961: Gladiator, Universal, Forward Control, CJ and DJ

Kaiser bought Willys-Overland in 1953, as Kaiser sought to leave the harsh competition of mainstream cars. The product line from 1959-1961 was fairly similar for all three years; Kaiser/Willys did not even bother to date many of their dealer brochures. Jeep didn't do annual styling changes, but made a wide variety of vehicles, considering their sales: The Standard Catalog of American Trucks quoted 114,881 sales for 1959; 122,446 for 1960; and 123,775 sales for 1961, across all models, commercial and noncommercial.

The big news for 1959 was the Dispatcher Surrey model, complete with a fringed and striped surrey top and chrome trim; as Kaiser was sponsoring Maverick, the Western semi-spoof TV series starring James Garner, they made a two-tone Maverick edition of the Utility Wagon (rear wheel drive only). A steel wagon called the Harlequin was also sold; and Mitsubishi paid Willys $1.8 million for a license to build Jeeps in Japan. Willys of Canada started making CJ-5s in Windsor, as well. This was all part of an attempt to get back into the mainstream civilian market, but without competing directly against GM, Ford, or Chrysler.

In 1960, Jeep made the basic Maverick treatment (two-toned paint plus chrome trim) optional on everything they made, except commercial trucks. They added a new rear wheel drive half-ton economy delivery truck and updated trim on various trucks. The Fleetvan, created for the Post Office, was built for the first time in 1960, and made available to other buyers in 1961.

The Surrey was temporarily dropped in 1961, along with the four-cylinder one-ton 4x4 stake truck was dropped; but the Perkins diesel engine was optional for the first time, as was a dual rear wheel option for the "forward control" FC-170.

Jeep Universal: CJ3B, CJ5, CJ6, and DJ-3A

Today's buyers associate Jeep with the "Universal," which, in 1960, meant the CJ-3B, CJ-5, CJ6, and DJ-3A (Dispatcher). The CJs ranged in weight from 2,132 to 2,225 pounds, quite light by today's standards (around half the weight of a Wrangler Rubicon), with a payload of around 1,300 lb.

No Universal or Dispatcher had an automatic transmission, even as an option. All were designed to be four cylinders only, and a straight-six would not fit until 1972; Jeep compromised by adding a "Dauntless" 225-cubic-inch V6 in 1966.

The frame had heavy steel channel sides with six crossmembers. Buyers could opt for power locking differentials in both front and rear, along with snow plows and other unusual options.

The CJ3B was the oldest; the CJ-5, based on a military Jeep, appeared in 1954, with the CJ-6, also built from military vehicles and having a 20 inch longer wheelbase, appearing as a 1956 model. Most CJ6 models were exported or used by the U.S. Forest Service; it had a 20-year run. A six-cylinder engine became optional in 1965.

All four wheels had servo-type drum brakes with bonded linings and ten inch drums. Jeep only used variable rate springs, helping to make the ride smooth for an off-roader while keeping and high load capacity. Three-speed DJs had the shift lever moved to the steering column to provide extra leg-room; others (including four-speed models) used a floor shift. All CJs had standard four wheel drive; buyers could opt for metal tops and cabs.

The Universal was fairly bare bones, coming with an oil filter, oil-bath air cleaner, antifreeze, windshield wipers (without a washer), closed crankcase ventilation, driver's seat, 35-amp alternator (a serious feature for 1960, only matched by Chrysler), and a single lever transfer case. Turn signals were optional.

The DJ (Dispatcher) was rear wheel drive, unlike the 4x4 CJ series. It had a lower grille and hoodline, special suspension, and different gearing, since it was created to be a lightweight courier vehicle safe on unpaved roads, without having to handle snow plowing, farm duties, or rock crawling. The Dispatcher was mainly used by the Post Office, so many came with right hand drive and a rearview mirror on the left hand side, by the front of the hood. Buyers could get a full cab enclosure with sliding side doors and a rear door.

DJ models weighed less than CJs, starting at a mere 1,769 pounds for the soft-top model, and the price was lower, but they also had a less powerful engine; the F-head four would not fit under the hood, (which is why the CJ3B had a taller hood than the CJ2A and CJ3A), so the old L-head engine was used (thanks, S. Cook). They included CJ standard features as well as 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.

1960 Jeep CJ-3B specifications
Footprint130" long x 69" wide
Wheelbase80 inches
Tread49 inches
Height68 inches
Clutch72 in2 single-dry plate
Electrical12-volt (6V opt.)
35 amp generator
Tires6.00 x 16 (others opt.)
Wheels4.50 x 16, 5-stud
Brake area: 118 in2
Gas10.5 gallon tank
Front axle2,000 lb capacity
hypoid full floating
Rear axle

2,500 lb capacity
semi floating

Turning radius17 feet, 6 inches
TowingOver 2,240 lb
Front springs10-leaf, 260 lb-in rate
650-lft cap.
Rear springs9-leaf, 190 lb/in rate
800 lb capacity
Cargo bed36" x 38"

Three speed synchronized manual, 2.8:1, 1.55:1, 1.00:1; Reverse, 3.8:1.
Transfer case, 1:1 and 2.46:1. Axle ratio, 5.38:1.
Hydraulic shock absorbers. 17.9:1 steering ratio (cam-and-lever).

Jeep Fleetvan (FJ)

The Jeep Fleetvan, built starting in 1960 and available to the general public in 1961, was essentially the DJ Dispatcher with a van body; most were purchased by the U.S. Post Office, and their basic look continued onward to the later AM General postal vans. Made in Toledo, the Fleetvan (FJ-3) had an 81 inch wheelbase and 135 inch length, and was 90 inches tall and 65 inches wide; the chassis was similar to the DJ, and the footprint was quite small, with no room wasted on a separate hood. They did have room for the F-head four cylinder engine, unlike the Dispatcher.

Forward Control trucks (FC)

Forward Control trucks were work vehicles with pickup beds, as well as Jeep-endorsed bodies from other suppliers including tow trucks, fire trucks, and dump trucks. Mahindra produced the FC-150 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; both were sold as a chassis-cab, pickup, and stake truck, and had standard four wheel drive.

Other Kaiser-Jeep vehicles: Station wagons, chassis cabs, delivery trucks

The F4-134 series included chassis-cab and delivery trucks in the half-ton range, with chassis-cab and pickup trucks in the one-ton range, powered by four cylinder engines. L6-226 trucks were sold as delivery and wagon in half-ton form, rear or four wheel drive; and as one-ton 4x4s in chassis-cab, pickup, and stake form.
Commercial trucks were heavier than the Universals (Jeeps), but the heaviest truck weighed a mere 3,564 pounds (the FC-170 stake truck).

Jeep station and utility wagons were essentially the design launched in 1946 (1947 for 4x4s). The Station Wagon was rear wheel drive, and the Utility Wagon was four wheel drive; and a windowless body created the Panel Delivery. These closely related Jeeps stuck around until 1965, the last year for the CJ3B. They did not get a single piece windshield until 1959; and had a standard four cylinder (optional six cylinder) with 1,000 pounds of cargo capacity. One of these wagons can be seen in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World - one of the very few non-Chrysler vehicles in the movie.

The Utility and Station Wagon were replaced by the Wagoneer and commercial trucks based on the Wagoneer, though it remained in the lineup alongside its replacement for a while.

Jeep military vehicles

Indented portions based on information from

The M38 was based on the civilian CJ3A, with a stronger frame and suspension, 24 volt electrical system, and full-floating rear axle; around 61,423 were made, for use in Korea and domestic bases. From 1953 to 1955, they were made for foreign military forces. Visible differences included headlight guards, blackout lights, cowl-mounted battery panel, and tool notches on the body. On the other side, the M38A1 was turned into the CJ5; the military version had a stronger chassis, 24-volt electricals, and reversed front spring shackles. 101,488 of these were made from 1952-1957, some for export.

From 1959 to 1961, Willys switched to the M170, from which the CJ6 was derived. The M170 was used for many purposes, including as an ambulance and six-man troop Marine carrier, though just 6,500 were made; the spare tire was mounted inside. Starting in 1961, the M151 took over, built by Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AM General and Ford through 1984; it had independent front and rear trailing arms instead of live axles, but its tendency to roll over prompted the installation of seat belts and a rollover protection system.
The reversed front shackles on the M38A1 were, according to Bob Sheaves, developed to correct a steering issue: "The
original configuration had a propensity to make the
vehicle unstable in turns at high axle articulation
affecting where the tires were pointed. The CJ5 and
later, the IH Scout 800/Scout II used the same
arrangement for the same reason - that is, better
street manners and higher offroad mobility."

(Bob noted: the development process was:

CJ2 -> M38 -> CJ3A -> M38A1 -> CJ5 (Series 1) -> M170/CJ6/DJ6 -> CJ5 Series 2/CJ7 -> CJ10* -> YJ -> TJ
* Aircraft tug and the last true Jeep military vehicle until the 1989 XJ for Marines and Saudis in Gulf War I)

m-678 provided the following information:

Military FCs came in four variations: the M-676, M-677, M-678, and M-679.

The M-676 was essentially a repowered, mildly modified FC. The M-677 is a four door crew cab with a shorter bed. Both the M-676 and M-677 were available with aluminum canopies and folding wooden bench seats. The M-678 is a carry-all or van body with three cabin doors, two rear doors and removable seating for seven in three rows. The M-679 is an ambulance based on the M-678. These trucks were all similar to their civilian counterparts, except for the engine, heavier-duty bumpers, and far greater instrumentation.

Civilian FC-170 trucks used the Super Hurricane straight-six engine, while military vehicles used a three-cylinder, two-cycle, loop-scavenged 170 cid Cerlist Diesel producing 85 hp (at 3,000 rpm) with 170 lb-ft of torque at 1,900 rpm - less power and torque than the gas engine, but with superior gas mileage and durability; and, without intake or exhaust valves, camshaft, or timing chain, fewer adjustments and theoretically greater reliability.

As with civilian FC-170s, they used a Warner T-90a three speed, Spicer model 18 transfer case, and Spicer model 44 front and 53 rear axles. These models had a top speed around 45-50 mph, partly due to the axle ratios and tire sizes; the civilian models were not much faster.

Production ended by 1965; most were delivered in 1964. The writer of the now-defunct site m-678 wrote that "Forward Control Jeeps can trace their heritage back to 1957 and the early CJ-5 Jeeps ... The new design was based on the existing CJ-5 frame." They appeared to have been hand-made from standard Jeep parts.

Three four cylinder engines were offered - two gas, and one diesel. The gas-powered, F-head Hurricane four cylinder engines displaced 134.2 cid; they produced 70-72 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. This engine was used in all CJ models (with compression ratios of 6.9:1 and 7.4:1 resulting in the 2 horsepower variation), as well as the F4-134 one-ton trucks (high compression) and FC-150 trucks (high compression); a slightly more powerful version (75 hp, 115 lb-ft) was used in Fleetvan, with the same 7.4:1 compression ratio.

All used Carter YF single-barrel carburetors and had three main bearings and F-type heads, with 2-inch intake valves. Taxable horsepower was listed as 15.63. Pistons were an aluminum alloy, and exhaust valve rotation was used to avoid burning. The older L-head engines were used only in the DJ (Jeep Dispatcher) due to the lack of underhood space.

The workhorse engine for the heavier trucks was the Hurricane L-head straight-six with 226 cid of displacement and a 6.86:1 compression ratio, producing 115 hp at 3,650 rpm and 190 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm. It used solid lifters, as did the four-cylinder, with four main bearings and a Carter one or two barrel carburetor. Stellite valves with exhaust rotation were used for durability, while chromium plated rings kept oil use down.

A Perkins model, made in England (Chrysler Corporation would also use Perkins diesel engines in their British trucks), was sold starting in 1961, with 60 horsepower at 3,000 rpm but 143 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,350 rpm.

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