Trucks, Jeeps

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

jeeps of 1959

Starting in 1953, Willys-Overland Motors was owned by Kaiser, which continued military production. 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. Compensating for the lack of annual styling changes, Jeep made a stunningly 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 main 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.

Jeep CJ3B

In 1960, Jeep made the basic Maverick treatment (two-toned paint plus chrome trim) optional on all models other than the commercial trucks. A new rear wheel drive half-ton economy delivery truck was added, and trim on various trucks was updated. The Fleetvan, developed for the Post Office, was built for the first time in 1960, but would not be available to other buyers until 1961. Also in 1961, the Surrey was temporarily dropped, and the four-cylinder one-ton 4x4 stake truck was dropped; but the Perkins diesel engine was made available to Jeep buyers for the first time. Finally, a dual rear wheel option was created for 1961 FC-170 buyers.

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

jeep universalToday’s buyers associate Jeep most closely with what was then called the Universal, which was sold in four basic flavors: CJ-3B, CJ-5, CJ6, and DJ-3A (Dispatcher). The various CJs ranged in weight from 2,132 to 2,225 pounds, astounding light by today's standards — not just for four wheel drive vehicles, but for any cars or trucks — and they had a gross vehicle weight of 3,500 pounds, giving them a hefty payload. The CJ3B was the oldest of the range; the CJ-5, based on a military Jeep, appeared in 1954, with the CJ-6, another derivation from military vehicles differing mainly in a 20-inch longer wheelbase, appearing later in 1955 as a 1956 model. Most CJ6 models were exported, largely to Sweden and South America, or used by the U.S. Forest Service; it had an amazing 20-year run, ceasing production in 1975. A six-cylinder engine only became optional in 1965, and automatic transmissions were not sold in either Universal or Dispatcher models.

“CyberRanger” wrote: “For the CJ-5, CJ-6, and DJ-5, the Dauntless 225 V-6 was available from 1966 until 1971. In 1972, the hood, cowl, and firewall were changed slightly to accomodate the longer 258 straight six and the 307 V-8 (longer hood, shorter cowl, and redesigned firewall/grill) . A straight six would not fit the 1955-71 CJs due to its length. CJs were designed for a 4 cylinder and the V-6 was the only engine with more than 4 cylinders that would fit the space. Although many owners shoehorned small V-8s (215 Buicks, 283 Chevys, 327 Chevys, etc), it was a tight fit & frequently required modifying the grill box, firewall, steering, etc.” ... Chris Jeanotte further noted: “The Buick engine was an alumniun V8 which GM sold to Rover for their cars and trucks. GM then sold the tooling and rights for the Buick V6 to Jeep; AMC later sold them back to GM at a considerable profit.”

Universal models (which would remain similar through the mid-1960s) 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 (some?) three-speed DJ models, the shift lever was moved to the steering column to provide extra leg-room; others (including four-speed models) used a floor shift. All CJ models had standard four wheel drive. Metal tops and metal cabs were sold.

Jeep CJs

Not much was standard on the Universal: oil filter, oil bath air cleaner, anti-freeze, windshield wipers (without a washer), closed crankcase ventilation, front driver's seat, 35-amp alternator, and single lever transfer case. It could only be fitted with a four cylinder engine and three-speed synchronized manual transmission; direction signals were optional. The frame had heavy steel channel sides with six crossmembers.

The DJ (Dispatcher) had rear wheel drive, 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. 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 teh 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).


Universal 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. Power locking differentials were available for both front and rear; numerous other options, ranging from later alternators to snow plows, were available.

1960 Jeep CJ-3B specifications
Length 130 inches   Wheelbase 80 inches
Tread 49 inches   Width 69 inches
Height 68 inches   Brake area 118 sq. in.
Clutch 72 sq inch single-dry plate   Cooling 12 quarts with heater
Battery 50 amp-hour 12V (6V opt.)   Generator 35 amps
Tires 6.00 x 16; other sizes opt.   Transfer case 1.00:1; 2.46:1
Wheels 5 disc, 4.50 x 16, 5-stud   Shocks Hydraulic
Gas 10.5 gallon tank   Axle ratio 5.38:1
Front axle 2,000 lb capacity   Rear axle 2,500 lb capacity
  Hypoid full-floating     Semi-floating
Turning radius 17 feet, 6 inches   Cargo bed 36” x 38”
Towing Over 2,240 lb   Steering ratio 17.9:1 (cam and lever)
Front springs 10-leaf, 260 lb-in rate   Rear springs 9-leaf, 190 lb/in rate
  650 lb capacity     800 lb capacity
  36.25 x 1.75 inches     42 x 1.75 inches

Gear ratios: three speed synchromesh manual, 2.8:1, 1.55:1, 1.00:1; Reverse, 3.8:1

Jeep Fleetvan

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 appear to have been purchased by the U.S. Post Office, and their basic look continued onward to the later AM General postal vans. 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 basic chassis was very similar indeed to the DJ, and the exterior size of these vehicles was quite small, with no room wasted on a separate hood. They were not particularly popular except with the Post Office. Thanks to extra room for the engine, the F-head four could be used instead of the DJ's L-head.

Forward Control trucks

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. Mahindra produced 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; both were available in chassis-cab, pickup, and stake forms, in four wheel drive only.

Other Kaiser-Jeep vehicles

The F4-134 series of four-cylinder, trucks included chassis-cab and delivery trucks in the half-ton range, with chassis-cab and pickup trucks in the one-ton range. 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).

utility wagon

Jeep also made station and utility wagons, essentially the same design introduced in 1946 (rear wheel drive; 4x4s came in 1947). The Station Wagon was rear wheel drive, and the Utility Wagon was four wheel drive; a Panel Delivery was also made, with windows deleted. These closely related models stayed in the Jeep lineup until 1965, the last year for the CJ3B. A single piece windshield was finally phased in during 1959; the four cylinder was standard, with an optional six cylinder, and 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. These 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

The following is based on information from

The M38 was actually 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, domestic bases, and, from 1953-1955, by foreign military forces. Some 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, 24V electricals, and reversed front spring shackles. 101,488 of these were made from 1952-1957, some for export. None of these were made in 1959-61, according to that site; by then, the military was using the Willys M170, from which the CJ6 was derived.

The M170 was used as an ambulance and six-man troop Marine carrier, among other uses, in its small 6,500-vehicle run; the spare tire was mounted inside, on the passenger side, to make ambulance use practical. Starting in 1961, the M151 took over, built by Willys/Kaiser/Jeep/AM General and Ford through 1984; this vehicle used independent front and rear trailing arms instead of live axles, but had many more rollovers, prompting the installation of seat belts and a rollover protection system.

The reason for the reversed front shackles on the M38A1 was, according to Bob Sheaves, 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 arrangment 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 civilian FC with minor modifications. The M-677 is a four door crew cab with an abbreviated bed. Both the M-676 and M-677 were available with aluminum canopies and/or folding wooden bench seats. The M-678 is a carry-all or van body with 3 cabin doors, 2 rear doors and removable seating for seven: 2 front, 2 mid, 3 rear. The M-679 is an ambulance body, essentially the same as the M-678 except there are only 2 forward doors and no windows. 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 just 85 hp (at 3,000 rpm) with 170 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,900 rpm — less power and torque than the gas engine, but presumably with superior gas mileage and durability; and, without intake or exhaust valves, camshaft, or timing chain, fewer adjustments and presumably higher freedom from breakdown

As with civilian FC-170s, a Warner T-90a three speed was used with a 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 of these military vehicles 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 in an attempt to make a vehicle with the off road ability of the universal bodied jeeps but with increased cargo capacity. These Jeeps were produced for the civilian and industrial markets.” He indicated that production started around 1962, and that they appeared to have been hand-made from standard Jeep parts, due to the small numbers involved.


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.

hurricane four cylinder engine

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 duabiltiy, while chromium plated rings kept oil usse 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.

Want more? Visit our 1965 Jeep page!


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