Remember the Gladiator's father?
The Jeep Gladiator has finally arrived. It only took 27 years for Jeep to replace its last pickup truck, the Comanche. Though it was based on the XJ Cherokee, the Comanche was a true compact truck with a body-on-frame design behind the cab, but it kept the Cherokee’s unibody construction for its front half. Think of it as something of a hybrid construction.
The history of the Comanche actually dates back to mid-1980s when AMC, who owned Jeep at the time, realized there was a market in the US for a more premium and refined pickup truck. The Cherokee was all-new at the time and Comanche came together rather quickly, launching for the 1986 model year. Jeep offered two cargo bed lengths, seven- and six-feet. One interesting design detail is that unlike other trucks at the time, the Comanche’s frame design under the bed was fully boxed.
Also like the old Cherokee, the Comanche featured a Quadralink front suspension comprised of coil springs and upper/lower control arms on a solid axle. This was done specifically for improved ride comfort on and off-road. Jeep also wanted the axle to move up and down relative to the chassis, which is called axle articulation. The rear suspension, meanwhile, utilized leaf springs longer than those used on the Cherokee for the specific purpose of increasing load capacity.
Under the hood, the Comanche initially launched with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired to either a four-speed manual or a five-speed slushbox. The two optional engines were a GM-sourced 2.8-liter V6 or a 2.1-liter inline-four turbo-diesel courtesy of Renault. Those who know their Chevy truck history will recognize that GM V6 as the same one used for the Chevy S-10, one of the Comanche’s direct competitors.
When Chrysler Corporation bought AMC in 1987, the Comanche received an all-new engine: the legendary 4.0-liter straight-six, rated at 177 horsepower and 224 lb-ft of torque. The Comanche received a number of other improvements under Chrysler’s watch, such as improved electronics and a new TorqueFlite three-speed automatic gearbox. Throughout its lifetime, the Comanche was sold in either two or four-wheel-drive with part-time or full-time transfer cases. Various trim levels were also offered, including Chief, Laredo, Pioneer, and Eliminator, all of which came from Chrysler. AMC took a more basic trim approach with the Custom, X, and XLS trims.
By the early 1990s, sadly, Chrysler determined the Comanche’s time was limited because of slow sales. Jeep dealers no longer even wanted them, preferring instead a rebadged version of the Dodge Dakota. The last Jeep Comanche rolled off the Toledo, Ohio production line in June 1992. Jeep would not build another pickup truck again until 2019.
Despite the Gladiator’s arrival, Jeep fans should check out an old school Comanche, and this one happens to be for sale on Craigslist for $5,699. Located in Kansas, this 1991 Jeep Comanche was normally a California car (meaning its undercarriage is rust-free), but its owner, for some reason, left it with a friend in America’s heartland to sell. This long-bed 4x4 Comanche appears to be in relatively good shape, despite its 159,000 miles. It’s also powered by the straight-six which is paired to the automatic. There are a few signs of wear and tear but that’s to be expected given that it’s 28 years old.
A few other features include new BF Goodrich tires, an electric fuel pump, and pressure regulator. We also dig that camper shell. If anyone is up for some Overlanding or simply desires a classic all-American pickup truck with pedigree then look no further.