The public version of the popular Willys Military Jeep produced during World War II is referred to as Willys CJ which later renamed as Jeep CJ or Civilian Jeep.
The Willys CJ-2, a first prototype version was revealed by Willys in 1944. Seven different variants alongside three corporate parents produced of the same basic model till 1986. In 1987, the CJ was replaced the Jeep Wrangler.
Allies were pretty confident by 1944 that they would win the war. This opened a new dimension for Willys to start designing a Jeep for the post-war civilian market. Although, we didn’t have much information about CJ-1, it looked like the CJ-1 was in the market in May 1944. CJ-1 seemed to be closely related to the Willys MB with some minor changes including a tailgate, drawbar and a civilian style canvas top.
The CJ-2 also known as ‘AgriJeeps’ was second generation prototype version of the first production civilian Jeep. The Willys-Overland CJ-2 didn’t go into sales. The design of CJ-2 was based on the Military Willys MB and it also shared the same Willys Go Devil engine. CJ-2 came with tailgate, Power Take-off, engine governor, column shift T90 manual transmission. 5.38 gear, 2.43:1 low-range transfer case, and driver’s side tool indentation. For the assessment purposes, majority of the CJ-2s produced were distributed to agricultural stations. Total of 45 units were produced out of which only nine have survived including: CJ2-06, CJ2-09, CJ2-11, CJ2-12, CJ2-14, CJ2-26, CJ2-32, CJ2-37 and CJ2-39. Of these nine versions, only the CJ2-09 has been reestablished.
The thorough evaluation of the CJ-2 directed the Willys to come up with first production units of CJ as CJ-2A. Looked pretty much the same as civilianized MB, it featured different styled grilles, larger headlights flush mounted in a seven-slot grille. Instead of using T-84 transmission, CJ-2A came with T-90 3-speed transmission and equipped with an L-134 Go-Devil engine.
From the time of its introduction to the end of production in 1949, total of 214,760 units were produced.
In 1949, the Willys-Overland introduced CJ-3A that remained in production until 1953. The CJ-3A came with L-134 Go-Devil 4-cylinder engine developing 60 hp and mated to a T-90 transmission. It also featured Dana 18 transfer case, Dana 25 front axle and Dana 41 or 44 rear axle. It also offered a beefed up suspension to facilitate different agricultural equipments. In 1951, a bare-bones Farm Jeep version was released with power takeoff. Total of 131,843 units were produced until 1953.
In 1951, Willys-Overland produced the only experimental concept of the CJ-4. It was powered by the Willys’ new Hurricane engine and came with a wheelbase of 2057 mm (81 inch). The body styling of the CJ-4 was taken from the CJ-3B and the CJ-5. Unfortunately, the design of CJ-4 failed to get approval and the unit was sold to factory employee.
In 1953, the Willys-Overland CJ-3B substituted the CJ-3A. In the same year, Kaiser acquired the Willys and removed the ‘Overland’ from the company’s name. CJ-3B featured a higher grille and equipped with a new Willy Hurricane engine. Until 1968, 196,000 units of the CJ-3B were produced by the company. The design of the CJ-3B was licensed to different international automakers, such as Mitsubishi (Japan) and Mahindra (India). The version sold by Mitsubishi remained in production from 1953 to 1998, while Mahindra still produce Jeeps based on CJ-3B.
Mitsubishi Jeep (1953-1998)
In July 1953, Mitsubishi launched a Jeep called Jeep J3 in the Japanese market under the license from Willys. The name J3 was not used in reference to Willys CJ3 but rather express the previous models produced for Japanese regional forest office and National Safety Forces, i.e. 53 “J1″s (CJ3-A with 6-volt electrics) and circa 500 “J2″s (CJ3-A with 12-volt electrics) respectively. Mitsubishi produced its Jeep version till 1998 when the Japanese government imposed stricter emissions and safety standards forcing Mitsubishi to halt the production of Jeep J3. From 1953 to 1998, Mitsubishi produced 200,000 units of the Jeep. The Jeep J3 came with 2.2-L (2199 cc) F-head ‘Hurricane’ inline 4-cylinder engine with an output of 70 PS (51 kW) at 4000 rpm. The longer wheelbase version J10 and J11 were launched in 1955 and 1956 respectively. In 1960, an even longer version was introduced by Mitsubishi as J20.
The CJ-5 was launched under the influence of new owner Kaiser and the Korean War M38A1 Jeep. It was introduced in 1954 as a replacement vehicle for CJ-3B. When in 1965, Kaiser purchased the casting rights to the Buick 225 cubic-inch (3.7-L) V6 Dauntless, CJ-5 and CJ-6 received a new 4-cylinder Willys Hurricane engine developing 155 hp (116 kW).
In 1970, American Motors purchased the company and dropped the GM engine Buick. In 1971, the old ‘Powr-Lok’ was replaced by the ‘Trac-Lok’ limited-slip differential. Total of 603,303 units of CJ-5 were produced.
The CJ-6 was launched in 1955 having 20 inch longer wheelbase than the previous CJ-5. In United States, CJ-6 was not so renowned and majority of the sales came from Sweden and South America. A good number of CJ-6s were used by the Forest Service of United States. In 1975, the production ends in US market while the production was ceased completely in 1981. V6 and V8 engines were made available for CJ-6 in 1965 and 1972 respectively.
CJ-5A and CJ-6A (1964-1968)
Kaiser exalted the Tuxedo Park from mere a trim package to a separate model for the CJ-5A and CJ-6A between 1964 and 1968. Both the CJ-5 and the Tuxedo Park were described by different prefixes. For instance, the Tuxedo Park used the VIN prefix 8322, while the regular CJ-5 came with a VIN prefix of 8305.
The CJ-7 was launched in 1976 and remained in production for almost 11 years. It had a larger wheelbase than the CJ-5. Unlike CJ-5, the CJ-6 featured a chassis comprised of two parallel longitudinal main c-section rails.
The 4-wheel drive system called Quadra-Trac was available as an option along with a part-time two speed transfer case (an automatic transmission). It also featured molded hardtop and steel doors. In later years, the Renegade and an upgraded Laredo model were also made available. The Laredo model came with nice, smooth seats, steering wheel tilt and a chrome package consisted up of bumpers, front grille and mirrors.
CJ-8 ‘Scrambler’ (1981-1986)
The CJ-8 was in fact a longer wheelbase version of the previous CJ-7 with 2616 mm (103 inch) of wheelbase. It was launched in 1981. The CJ-8 featured a removable half-cab, offering a pickup type style-box rather than an individual pickup bed. The CJ-8 remained in production until 1986 when a same sized Comanche replaced it. In its entire production period, only 27,792 units were produced.
To engage the 4-wheel drive, the CJ-8 utilized the conventional transfer case along with manual front-locking hubs. Although, majority of the CJ-6s came with 4- or 5-speed manual transmission, there was available an optional 3-speed automatic transmission.
It was also sometimes referred to as ‘Scrambler’ because of the Scrambler appearance package that contained tape graphics and special wheels.
A CJ-based pickup truck manufactured and launched in 1981. Most of CJ-10 models were marketed in export markets, but some of the units were also utilized by the United States Air Force as an aircraft pulling vehicle. The CJ-10 offered with square headlights mounted in the fenders and a nine-slot grille. These 2-wheel drives normally offered with Nissan diesel motors with a limited speed of 45 mph.
CJ-10a was in fact based on the CJ-10 flightline aircraft tug. It was first appeared in 1984 and was remained in production until 1986. It was manufactured in Mexico and mainly utilized by US Air Force as an aircraft pulling vehicle. During its production period, 2,300 units of CJ-10a were manufactured and sold.