Which Jeep truck is the best of the bunch? To some, it’s a straightforward answer. For me, the best Jeep pickup is the FC with off-road tires and wheels, and a camper conversion set on the back. But then there’s also the Commando, which is a capable & gorgeous off-road rigs. Plus it’s called the “Commando”, which nets it bonus points. There’s the Scrambler too, which carries the nameplate that all of us believed Jeep would revitalize for the latest about-to-launch version.
Let’s take a closer look at all of them.
Willys-Overland Jeep Truck 4×4
Constructed by Willys-Overland Motors from 1947 to 1965, the Willys-Overland Jeep Truck 4×4 is a one-ton four-wheel drive truck. It was powered by the Go-Devil and Hurricane four-cylinder engines and produced 60/72 horsepower respectively. The Jeep Truck was only available with a 3-speed manual. Over 200,000 of the Jeep Truck 4×4 were manufactured.
The Forward Control (FC) Jeeps are hard to find now without rust eating away at least 85% of the body and cab. The FC was originally produced by Willys Motors from 1956 to 1965 and based on the CJ-5 engineering. These were mainly work vehicles for corporate, municipal, military, and some civilian units. The regular pickup bed was standard, but there was a large market of Jeep approved specialty beds from simple flatbeds to tow trucks, dump trucks, and even fire trucks.
Power plants for the early versions were the Hurricane 4-cylinder engines (75 hp) with a 3-speed and 4-speed manual transmission after 1958. Other updates in ‘58 helped Willys achieve a goal ratio of the vehicle’s curb weight to its payload as 1:1.
The Forward Control Concept from the Easter Jeep Safari in 2012 was spectacular. Plus Kamil wrote about an FC van too.
The original Gladiator was produced from 1962 to 1988. This version shared frame architecture and front end with the Wagoneer. There were three wheelbases with the longest being 165 in. The Gladiators were powered by the new Tornado straight six that produced 140 hp. This was the first production overhead cam engine in an American light truck or SUV. From 1968 to 1971 Jeep pickups offered the Buick 350 Dauntless V8, making 230 hp, as an option.
When AMC purchased Jeep in 1970, all Jeep trucks moved to AMC engines. The Buick V8s were replaced with 5.9L and 6.6L AMC V8s.
The Gladiator named was dropped after 1971 and the line became known as the J-series. When Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987, the J-series competed directly with the Dodge line of trucks, and so it was dropped, while the Grand Wagoneer continued on.
Jeep also did a J-Series concept at the 2012 Easter Jeep Safari.
The Jeepster Commando was a revival of the Jeepster name from 1948-50. The Commando was manufactured to compete with the International Scout, Toyota Land Cruiser, and Ford Bronco. The Commando was produced from 1966 to 1973. When AMC acquired the Jeep name, they meddled with the popular Jeepster configurations and eventually killed the line in 1973 due to a quick drop in popularity.
The pickup version was a two-seat variant. All Commandos came standard with the Hurricane four-cylinder and the Dauntless V6 was an option.
Personally, I’d love to have a Jeepster Commando station wagon. I’d daily it and it would be glorious.
The Scrambler is a long wheelbase version of the CJ-7 from 1981 to 1986. With more than ten inches of extra wheelbase and a removable half cab, the Scrambler has the unique look of a small pickup without an actual separate pickup bed. The Scrambler name comes from the appearance package that many CJ-8s were equipped with. The lower graphic stripes and the name “Scrambler” on the side of the hood are Radwood-approved. The Australian version of the CJ-8 is known as the “Overlander” and had full-length steel hardtops.
Running from 1986 to 1992 with a short bed and long bed versions, the Comanche sold 190,446 total units. The Comanche featured 8 trim levels over its run. Custom, X, XLS, SporTruck (Base), Olympic Edition (only in 1988), Chief, Laredo, Pioneer, & Eliminator were available throughout production.
This truck featured the trusty 4.0L straight six that Jeeps were known for. There were also some models made with the 2.5L four-cylinder. Overall, six different transmissions were offered from Aisin, Chrysler, and Peugeot.
Good versions can be found for a couple thousand dollars. Beware the rust.
What do we know about the Gladiator so far? It’s JL-based and likely powered by the 3.6L Pentastar V6. Rumors also include a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder, a hybrid, and a 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel to cover all of the powertrain options. The Pentastar will have the eight-speed automatic attached or the six-speed manual, while the diesel only gets the automatic transmission.
It also will be available in both hard and soft tops and many door, top, and windshield configurations.
What is your favorite Jeep pickup? Mine’s the Forward Control. Or the Jeepster Commandos. No, it’s definitely the CJ-8, especially if I could find one with the full steel hardtop, which negates the whole “pickup” theme…