Unless you're a true Jeep aficionado, you probably haven't heard of these.
When we think of Jeep, we think of the icons. The Willys MB, the CJ5, the Wrangler, the original Cherokee, the wood-paneled Grand Wagoneer, and so on, spring instantly to mind. However, the Jeep back catalog of models is way bigger than just its icons. There have been misses as well as hits, and then there are the vehicles Jeep made when it was a contractor for the US military. Here are some of the more interesting Jeep models that history is in danger of forgetting completely.
The Jeep CJ-5 and CJ-7 are legitimate icons and still some of the hardiest and most capable off-roaders you'll find out on the trails. However, between the two models is the often forgotten CJ-6 which had a huge production run. The first model was built in 1955 and the last in 1981 as a civilian model, but it started life as an extended chassis M170 jeep in 1953. It had virtually the same range of engines as the CJ-5, including the legendary AMC straight sixes, but didn't sell well at all in the US. Sale in the US ended in 1975 when the CJ-7 was released, but the CJ-6 carried on elsewhere globally, with most sales being made in South America and Sweden. Here in the states, the most commons sightings of the CJ-6 were as US Forest Service vehicles.
The Jeep Commander isn't the most forgotten name on this list as the name has been popping up in rumors for a comeback. It may return again as a Chinese market full-size SUV (China had a three-row version of the Cherokee called Commander for a while) or even as a flagship for the rest of the world. But, for now, it's still a blink and you'll miss it production model. It was built from 2005 to 2010 as a larger five or seven-seater alternative to the Jeep Liberty. However, it was only two inches longer than the Grand Cherokee and also on a unibody chassis. The only real differentiation was the option for a third row of seats. When it was discontinued, Chrysler announced the Dodge Durango would be the Commander's successor.
The CJ-8 is finally getting some of the love it deserves with its new direct descendent, the Jeep Gladiator, making waves. It was a long-wheelbase version of the CJ-7 with a removable cab and a small pick-up style box on the back. Surprisingly, it only stayed in production from 1981 to 1986 and wasn't that popular despite President Ronald Reagan owning one for his ranch. The CJ-8 was known as the Scrambler due to an appearance package made mainly of exterior graphics and unique wheels, but it wasn't on all CJ-8 models sold. There's some argument whether 1985 or 1986 was the final production year or if the final 128 models were leftover 1985 models.
FC stands for Forward Control and, like Land Rover in the UK, Jeep built a cab-over model suited to military and corporate use. The FC started production under Willys in 1956 and, as the utility vehicle market was becoming competitive, an independent designer was brought in for the FC model to create something more futuristic looking. However, it's a versatile commercial utility vehicle, and although it was available for the mainstream, it didn't sell well outside of military and commercial uses. Its short turning radius and large cargo bed made it ideal as an airport service vehicle and a tow truck, finding particular favor with the US Navy and Marine Corps in the late 1960s.
By the mid-1960s, 4x4s were had become the rage in the mainstream, and the International Scout, Ford Bronco, and Chevrolet Blazer ruled supreme. Kaiser Jeep wasn't flush with cash, so it did the logical thing and used the existing tooling to revive the Willys-Overland Jeepster. This was back in the days when engines had cool names, and Kaiser-Jeep used the four-cylinder Hurricane power plant, a direct descendant of the even better named Go Devil engine. It was available as a station wagon, convertible, pickup, and even as a roadster. For some real flavor, though, the rarest version is the Hurst Jeepster which came with a bunch of upgrades and aesthetic additions as well as a Hurst T-handle shifter for the manual transmission or a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter for the automatic optioned models.
There is no CJ-9 model for reasons we're not privy to, but there is a Jeep CJ-10. It was designed and built for export markets from 1981 to 1985, but you will occasionally see one in the US. It has a CJ-style body, but it is built on the Jeep J10 truck platform. The easiest way to make sure it is a CJ-10 once you've squinted your eyes and muttered, "What the hell is that?" is to count the slats in the grill. It's not the only CJ to have rectangular headlights, but it is the only one to have more than seven grille slats. It has ten grille slats, and as its main market was Australia, one of the options to sit behind the grille is a 3.2-liter Nissan-built six-cylinder engine.
The rarest of the production CJ models was dubbed the Farm Jeep as it was aimed at agriculture. Before the CJ-2A came to market in 1945, the name AGRIJEEP was trademarked but never used. It would have been perfect for the 1949 CJ-3A which was built with stronger suspension to handle agricultural equipment built for or built into the vehicle. It also featured a shorter rear wheel well than the 2A which allowed the driver's seat to be mounted further back. CJ-3A models are incredibly rare as they all led working lives, and even rarer is the Jeep Tractor version. That was a completely stripped-down model purely for use in the fields and featured a power takeoff unit to run attached implements.