CJ Jeep: A Close Look at the History and Generations

CJ Jeep is one of the most iconic Jeeps that have been released, as it lasted from 1944 to 1986 with over 1.5 million units sold. The series consisted of compact pickup trucks and open-bodied off-road vehicles or SUVs.

CJ Jeep

The CJ is known for its unique roots in military vehicles, which played an important part in the Second World War. If you’re curious about the CJ vehicle, you should continue reading our detailed article, where we cover the history and different models of this fascinating car!

What Is the Jeep CJ Vehicle?

The Jeep CJ vehicle is a compact sports utility vehicle with different body types, including doorless or 2-door SUV, doorless or 2-door convertible, and 2-door pickup truck. It was also designed with a front engine, a four-wheel drive, and a rear-wheel drive.

The Jeep CJ, also called Wrangler CJ, was released between 1944 and 1986. The CJ stands for Civilian Jeep, and it is a range of 4×4 vehicles that was redesigned based on the military line, which is the Jeep Willys MB (1941 to 1945). The CJ was built and sold by different versions of the Jeep company throughout its time.

From 1944 to 1953, it was manufactured by Willys-Overland. Then between 1953 and 1963, it was built by Willys Motors. Kaiser Jeep made the CJ from 1963 to 1970. Then, from 1971 to 1986, it was made by American Motors Corporation. The 1945 Jeep CJ-2A is also the first mass-produced civilian four-wheel-drive vehicle in the world.

From the CJ-1 to the CJ-10, the line of vehicles developed in terms of their comfort, size, and engine power over the years. The CJ was powered for the first time by a four-cylinder engine with 60 horsepower, dubbed “Go Devil.” But as time went on, the engine developed to include six and eight cylinders.

  • History of the CJ

The CJ was first made in 1944 by Willys-Overland, the main manufacturer of the military Jeep used in World War II. They built the first prototypes for a commercial version, which is the Civilian Jeep. It was an evolution from the War Jeep, but there were some changes, like adding a tailgate and putting a spare wheel on the side.

The company also added different civilian amenities to the Jeep and legal lighting. It featured a sturdy drivetrain compared to the war jeep because it was expected to be used by rural buyers and off-roaders who will drive the car on rough terrains and also require more durability.

As time went on, all the CJ Jeeps were designed with different bodies and frames — some could be driven without doors, and there were part-time four-wheel drive systems. Jeep introduced unique designs like the rigid live axles, a fold-flat windshield, a tapering noise design and flared fenders.

History of CJ Jeep

The CJ has been dubbed the “the most successful utility vehicle ever made” and was called “America’s workhorse.” It was discontinued by 1986 after over 1.5 million units had been built. By 1987, the CJ was replaced by the Jeep Wrangler, which had a similar wheelbase and some components like the leaf springs.

The Different Models of the CJ Jeep

Here is a list of the different models that were produced under the CJ Jeep line.

  • CJ-1

The Jeep CJ-1 was the first release in the series, produced in 1944. It was initially meant for the US Department of Agriculture, as they tested the military Jeep, MB, in 1942. Since the Allies were sure that they would win the war by 1944, wartime production for cars was reducing, and companies were considering a Jeep for the civilian market.

CJ 1 Jeep Review

In early 1944, it seems like Willys Overland came up with plans and made one or two prototypes called the CJ-1. The Civilian Jeep started running in May 1944. The CJ-1 was created as a modification of the military MB, including a tailgate, drawbar, low gearing and a new canvas top. The CJ-1 was the first Jeep built for civilian use.

There are no more CJ-1s remaining, and it is unsure how many of them were made.

  • CJ-2

The second generation is the Willys Overland CJ-2, which was produced between 1944 and 1945. There were about 45 produced. The engine in the car was a 134 cubic-inch 2.2-liter L134 I4 with three-speed manual transmission. It also came with an 80-inch wheelbase.

The CJ-2s were not available in the retail market and were also called AgriJeeps. Instead, they were prototypes that were developed for testing purposes. The design was very similar to the Willys MB, and there were differences in the body features.

The CJ-2 was designed with tailgates, engine governors, power take-offs, manual transmission, tool indentations on the driver’s side, and more. In the later models, the company stamped JEEP and WILLYS on the cars and also used civilian colors. The CJ was sent to agricultural stations to evaluate, and a couple of the models survived.

  • CJ-2A

By 1945, the Willys Jeep was ready for full production with the CJ-2A. This was released between 1945 and 1949, and there were 214,760 units produced. It was powered by a 134 cubic-inch 2.2-liter L134 I4 engine with 3-speed manual transmission. It also featured an 80-inch wheelbase with a length, width and height of 130.1 inches, 59 inches, and 69.4 inches, respectively.

CJ 2A Jeep Details

The CJ-2A looked similar to the MB but a civilian version, with a side-mounted spare wheel and a tailgate. It also had a larger bulging headlight with a seven-slot grille. It had the same Go Devil engine but a different transmission.

Since the CJ-2A was designed for agricultural purposes initially, it only featured a driver seat and side mirror, but there were different options like a front passenger seat, canvas top, rear seat, belt pully drive, and more.

  • CJ-3A and CJ-3B

Between 1949 and 1953, Willys Overland released the CJ-3A. There were 131,843 units produced, all powered by the Go Devil engine, which is a 134 cubic-inch 2.2-liter L134 I4 engine with a 3-speed T-90 manual transmission. It also had a similar length, width and height. It was later replaced by the CJ-3B.

The CJ-3A and 3B feature a higher strength with 60 horsepower. It also had a one-piece windshield with a vent and wipers at the bottom. Since it was also for agricultural purposes, it had a beefier suspension. By 1951, the Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor options were offered. The CJ-3A series ended in 1953.

The CJ-3B series was produced between 1953 and 1968 and was powered by the 134 cubic-inch 2.2-liter Hurricane I4 engine. In 1953, Willys Overland was also purchased by Kaiser Motors. In the CJ-3B, there was a higher grille and hood, with a four-speed manual transmission by 1963.

The design of the CJ-3B was also used for the M606 Jeep, also used for military purposes. The M606 was equipped with larger tires, springs, a trailer hitch, black-out lighting, and olive drab paint. The CJ-3B design got international licenses for the Japanese Mitsubishi and the Indian Mahindra.

  • CJ-4

The Willys Overland CJ-4, also called X-151, was the next in the series, but it was produced in 1951, and only one was released. The single CJ-4 was an experimental concept that was powered by the 134 cubic-inch 2.2-liter Hurricane I4 and had 81 inches in the wheelbase.

Details of CJ 4 Jeep

In the body type, the CJ-4 came with an intermediate design and a raised hood. It also had a curved body. But the design was rejected by the company, and so the vehicle was sold to one of the employees in the factory. There was also a stretched wheelbase prototype called the CJ-4MA-01 that was released in 2005 for an ambulance.

  • CJ-5

Next in the series was the Willys CJ-5, also called Jeep CJ-5, Ford Jeep, Shinjin Jeep and Jeep Shahbaz, depending on the country. It was produced between 1954 and 1983, and there were about 603,303 units released.

Since the CJ-5 ran for a long time, there were different engines used. These include the 2.2-liter Willys Hurricane I4, 3.1-liter Perkins 4.192 I4 diesel, 3.7-liter Dauntless V6, 2.5-liter Iron Duke I4, 3.8-liter AMC I6, 4.2-liter AMC I6 and 5.0-liter AMC V8. It also offers a three-speed manual or four-speed manual transmission.

By 1972, there was a revamp of the CJ-5 model. The 4-cylinder engine was replaced with straight-6 engines, and the wheelbase was stretched to accommodate the new engines. There were also special CJ-5 models, which include the 1961 Tuxedo Park, 1962 Tuxedo Park Mark II, 1963 Tuxedo Park Mark III, and 1964 Tuxedo Park Mark IV.

  • CJ-6

The Jeep CJ-6 is another model, and this was released between 1955 and 1981. There were multiple engines used for this generation too, including the 2.2-liter Willys Hurricane I4, 3.7-liter Dauntless V6, 2.5-liter GM Iron Duke I4, 3.8-liter AMC I6, 4.2-liter AMC I6, 5.0-liter AMC V8 and a 3.1-liter Perkins 4.192 I4 diesel.

The CJ-6 is a version of the M170 military version, and it had a longer wheelbase than the CJ-6. There were also some changes, like the second row of seats, and V8 and 6 engines were used in the later models. The US Forest Service also used the CJ-6 Jeeps. This model was not very popular in America, but were mostly used in Sweden and South America.

  • CJ-7

Between 1976 and 1986, the CJ-7 was released. The engines for this model included the 2.5-liter AMC I4, 2.5-liter Iron Duke I4, 3.8-liter AMC I6, 4.2-liter AMC I6, 5.0-liter AMC V8 and 2.4-liter Isuzu C240 I4 diesel. It also comes with 3-speed automatic or manual, 4-speed manual and 5-speed manual transmission.

The CJ-7 had impressive handling and stability, as the rear section of the chassis was designed to let the shock absorbers and springs be used. It was introduced in the 1976 model year, and there were 379,299 built during the years.

There were different trim packages like 1976-1986 Renegade, 1976-1980 Golden Eagle, 1980 Golden Hawks and 1980-1986 Laredo, with special edition models like 1982-1983 Limited and 1982 Jamboree Commemorative Edition.

  • Jeep Scrambler

The next release was the Jeep Scrambler, also called CJ-8, which is similar to the CJ-7 but with a longer wheelbase. It lasted between 1981 and 1986, with a wheelbase as long as 103.5 inches and a removable half cab. This gives you a pickup truck. The trucks came with four-speed or five-speed manual transmission, but a three-speed automatic was optional.

The Scrambler was also an appearance package for CJ-8s and came with special wheels and tape graphics. It’s also interesting to know that President Ronald Reagan owned a Scrambler.

  • CJ-10 and CJ-10A

The CJ Jeep series ended with the CJ-10 and CJ-10A. The CJ-10 was also called Jeep One-Tonner and Jeep J10 and lasted between 1981 and 1985. It was a two-door pickup truck with different engine options. They included the 2.5-liter AMC I4, 3.2-liter Nissan SD33 I6 Diesel and 4.2-liter AMC I6.

There were two transmission options too, which were the three-speed automatic and four-speed manual. It was a CJ-bodied pickup truck that was designed for export markets. They were designed with rectangular headlights on the fenders and a ten-slot grille.

The Jeep CJ-10A was released between 1984 and 1986. It was a 2-door flightline aircraft lug, which means it was used to pull airplanes, and only 2,300 were produced. It featured a 4×2 bobtail design and was powered by a 3.3-liter Nissan SD33 I6 Diesel engine. It was produced in Mexico.

What Are the Different Generations of CJ Jeeps?

The different generations of CJ Jeeps have a rich history. The earliest models of CJ Jeeps were produced in the 1940s, while later generations like the CJ-7 and CJ-8 were introduced in the 1970s. Each generation brought advancements and improvements to the iconic Jeep design, showcasing its versatility and off-road capabilities. The dodge ram manufacturing origins played no role in the development of CJ Jeeps, as they were two separate brands with distinct histories.


The CJ Jeep is known as one of the highlights of Jeep’s history, and it also inspired the Jeep Wrangler, which is well-liked today.

Here’s a summary of what we covered in our guide:

  • The Jeep CJ is a compact sports utility vehicle that was released between 1944 and
  • 1986 and was initially designed with a Go Devil engine.
  • The CJ was made in 1944 by Willys Overland and was the commercial version of the military SUVs used during the Second World War.
  • The different generations of the Jeep CJ include the CJ-1, CJ-2A, CJ-2, CJ-3A, CJ-3B, CJ-4, CJ-5, CJ-6, CJ-7, Jeep Scrambler and CJ-10.

If you’re interested in old cars, you can purchase used or classic Jeep CJs on the internet. But if you want something similar, you can consider the Jeep Wrangler.

5/5 - (19 votes)
Ran When Parked