The Jeep CJ-5 is a product of Willys-Overland refining the original World War II “jeep.” Starting with the CJ-2A in 1945, subsequent improved models were the CJ-3A and CJ-3B before the introduction of the CJ-5 in 1955. Akin to the original jeep, the CJ-5 was a civilian variant of their M-38A1 military Jeep, which went into production in 1952.
The only engine initially available was the “Hurricane” F-head 4-cylinder that was based on the original engine used in the WWII jeeps. A year later, Willys added a longer sibling, the CJ-6 (once again, a byproduct of a military jeep, the M-170 ambulance). Also from 1956 on, all CJs were all-wheel drive.
The 1964 model year saw the first of what was to be a multitude of option packages for the CJ-5, the Tuxedo Park Mk IV. In 1965, optional engines were added to the platform, with a 155-horsepower, 255-cid V-6 and the rarely equipped 129-cid Perkins 4-cylinder diesel appearing on order sheets.
When American Motors bought out Kaiser-Jeep in early 1970, the primary motive was to add the successful Jeep name and especially the CJ-5 to its lineup. Even at that, not much changed until 1972, when not one but two V-8s were added as options—AMC’s own 304 and 360 motors. In addition, the 4-cylinder and the V-6 were dropped, replaced by AMC’s 100-horsepower, 232-cid inline six as the standard engine. The popular Renegade package bowed in 1973 and continued to be a choice for Jeep buyer's through the remainder of the CJ-5's production run. In 1974, AMC and Levi’s joined marketing forces by offering the Renegade with the Levi’s jeans-style seating (in fact it was really vinyl made to look like denim), continuing through 1978. Other packages included the Super Jeep (1973), Golden Eagle (1977 - 1981), Laredo (1980 - 1983), and Limited (1982 and 1983).
With the CJ-6 discontinued, 1975 saw the introduction of the CJ-5’s eventual replacement, the CJ-7. With a longer wheelbase and bigger doors, it made the CJ a little more comfortable for Americans who were increasingly using their Jeeps for urban living rather than wild and rough back roads. CJ-5 production ended in 1983.
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