Jeeps were originally produced for military use during the World Wars. The Jeep CJ – 2A was produced by Willys-Overland in 1945 after WWW II came to an end. This was the first civilian jeep ever built.
It was marketed as a work vehicle for farmers and construction workers. It had a tailgate, large headlights, a side-mounted spare tire, and an external fuel cap to name a few things. It was produced for 4 years before the next model was introduced.
The CJ – 3A was introduced in 1948. It was very similar to the CJ – 2A but featured a one-piece windscreen. It also retained the original four-cylinder engine of the military MB model.
The CJ – 3A was upgraded in 1953 and came to be known as the CJ – 3B. The CJ – 3B had a new Hurricane F-Head four-cylinder engine and a taller front grille and hood than the earlier Jeep CJs. It remained in production until 1968 and 155,494 CJ – 3bs were sold in the 15-year production period.
In the meanwhile, Willys-Overland was sold to Kaiser in 1953. In 1955 Kaiser introduced the CJ – 5.
Major improvements in the engine, axles, transmissions, and seating comfort made the CJ – 5 the idea off-roading vehicle. The CJ – 6 was also introduced and other than a longer wheelbase it was identical to the CJ – 5. The CJ – 5 was produced for 28 long years from 1955 – 1983!
In 1965, Kaiser introduced the new ‘Dauntless’ V-6 engine for the CJ – 5 and CJ – 6. The new 155 horsepower engine almost doubled the power of the standard four-cylinder engines being used
Subsequently, Kaiser was bought out by American Motor Corporation in 1970. After 1970, all Jeep CJs came equipped with AMC built 304 cubic inch V-8 engines. AMC also added heavier axles, bigger brakes, and wider tracks to both CJ models.
In 1976, AMC introduced the Jeep CJ – 7. The CJ – 7 made the first major change in the Jeep design in over 20 years by introducing a slightly longer wheelbase than the CJ – 5 to allow an automatic transmission to be fitted.
It offered optional plastic molded top and steel doors. The demand for the CJ – 7 soon outnumbered that for the CJ – 5 which is why the latter was discontinued in 1983.
The CJ – 8 also known as the Scrambler was also produced. It had a slightly longer wheelbase than the Jeep CJ – 7.
Thus, the Jeep CJ is the original Jeep that found a large fan following which continues till date!