The CJ-3B was a triumph of practicality more than inspiration on the part of the designers and engineers of Willys-Overland, but they have had their moments of inspiration over the years. The photo at right from the Images in Time collection at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, shows draftsmen at work at Willys circa 1960. Perhaps one of them is working on the CJ-5 Station Wagon design, seen further down this page. There are also pictures of a few other Jeep ideas proposed by Willys, Kaiser Jeep, American Motors and even DaimlerChrysler.
Elsewhere on The CJ3B Page, see another photo of the Willys Engineering Department.
Willys and Kaiser had a good deal of success with various versions of Jeep trucks, such as fire trucks, and they evidently considered a large-bodied step-van delivery truck in the late 1940's.
See also the proposal for a hardtop CJ-3B postal delivery Jeep and a mini-pickup, in Dispatcher Jeeps.
Brooks Steven's Forward Control trucks were a bold innovation, although one that didn't translate into the sales that Willys had hoped for. Stevens proposed a number of variations on the FC platform, particularly passenger van ideas, but this logical open-cab version of the FC-150 was one of the first, in 1956.
One can imagine that by 1960 there was a lot of discussion about the next generation of the Willys Station Wagon, whose design had been largely unchanged since 1946. Since the front end of that design had been based on the flatfender CJ, it certainly makes sense that Willys would consider a new wagon based on the CJ-5. The rest of the body seen here has many similarities to the old wagon.
This is a much more substantial change in wagon design. Dated 1965, this picture shows that even after the debut of the Wagoneer in 1963, the designers kept thinking about new directions. Mikk Jogi points out that this is likely a prototype leading to the styling of the early-70's Commandos (50K JPEG).
This 1970 4x4 sports car concept carried the model number XJ001, a decade before the new Cherokee was designated as the "XJ." Two slightly different designs were tried on the two sides of the fiberglass body (see a right side view, 120K JPEG) which according to Jeep historian Ron Szymanski was mounted on a CJ-5 frame with the Dauntless V6 engine (although Patrick Foster's Standard Catalog of Jeep 1940-2003 describes it as V8-powered.) See also a rear view photo, 150K JPEG.) The concept car was displayed at car shows for a couple of years until it was destroyed in a trucking accident.
This photo is a promo shot of the XJ002 concept, created not by Jeep engineers but by the Bolide sports car company. The word Bolide means "a large meteor that explodes in the atmosphere," which is maybe appropriate for a flashy concept car that was never produced. It's also an unusual name for a Jeep, but this was an unusual Jeep. Its plastic roof had bulges for head clearance. Built on a Commando V6 chassis, the off-road sports car was shown at the 1970 NYC Auto Show, and reportedly the XJ002 still survives and is undergoing restoration. Lots more details in a Bolide advertisement (160K JPEG) from the collection of Ron Szymanski.
The "Cowboy" was this 1971 two-wheel-drive design, which got serious consideration from AMC. James Zalipski comments that, "It appears that the vehicle was assembled using some production parts from AMC vehicles of that era. Everything from the doors forward appears to be AMC Hornet and Gremlin sheet metal and trim, except for the inset (center) part of the grille. The spacing between the door and the rear wheel well would indicate a Hornet chassis. The vehicle is basically a Hornet pickup truck."
The planned Cowboy badge below, and the drawing of the rear frame and box, are courtesy of Ron Szymanski.
Frank Swygert researched a story on the Cowboy for American Independent Magazine (now American Motors Cars) and provides this information:
"It is indeed built on a Hornet partial body - a 1971 SC/360 two door body to be exact. It has the 360 and a four speed trans. There were reportedly more than one built (3?); this info is for the only survivor. Why an SC/360? The builders wanted a V-8 model, and just pulled the first available V-8 car, which by chance was an SC/360.
"Have you ever seen an MJ pickup? It uses "uni-frame" construction --
deep box frame rails in the back that are part of the cab unit body
construction. The cab and rails are all one piece. That type
construction was first used for the Cowboy prototype, and resurrected for
"All the original prototypes had the 'Gremlin' style front end. The Cowboy was meant to be Jeep's answer to the influx of mini trucks from Japan. The Gremlin front gave it a utilitarian look. The survivor was purchased from AMC and had the front clip changed by the owner to a '77 Hornet style. This gives it a classy 'El Camino' style look, but was never considered by AMC. Many people see the survivor and assume that's exactly what it was a prototype of. All factory photos show 'Jeep' emblems on the sides and tailgate.
"The Cowboy never saw production for two reasons: 1) No four wheel drive system. It would take time to develop a 4x4 system and execs felt that a Jeep without 4x4 wouldn't go along with the image or marketing. Jeep was the company's truck brand, so a mini truck didn't fit in the AMC line-up. As mentioned, since it was targeted at mini trucks, an "El Camino" style vehicle wasn't even considered. 2) Hornets were selling just about as fast as AMC could build them. Some Hornet sales would have to be given up to insert another product on the line, and that wasn't going to happen unless it was a sure-fire winner. If 4x4 had been an easy adaptation it might have happened.
"I think it would
have sold well even in 2WD only, especially with the 232/258 six
compared to the fours in the competition. Just needed a good four speed.
A 'deluxe' model with the Hornet clip would have been an added feature.
Oh well! If Hornet production wasn't pretty much maxed out at the time
it may have made the model line-up."
In the early 1980's, AMC came up with this stubby sports car idea, the "Jeepster 2". This concept was more Jeep-like (check the grille) than the Mustang-influenced XJ001 above. This would actually have been the third iteration of the "Jeepster" name, and Chrysler tried again in 1998 at the Detroit Auto Show.
Like the Jeepster 2, Chrysler's 1998 "Jeepster" didn't go into production, but it did appear in a number of toy versions (150K JPEG) which were licenced by several manufacturers.
Although the look and the name of this concept car are reminiscent of the early Universal Jeeps, the wheelbase of DaimlerChrysler's "Willys 2" is a significantly-longer 95 inches. The carbon-fiber body on an aluminum frame is powered by a supercharged inline 4-cylinder engine with automatic full-time 4WD. This "Willys 2" which made the rounds of 2002 auto shows, is a hardtop version of the 2001 Jeep Willys concept.
See also a rear view photo (50K JPEG) taken at the Jeep employees show in Toledo, and a front view photo (50K JPEG) taken by Dan Fedorko, which makes the Jeep heritage evident.
Since we have most of Jeep's "sports car" prototypes here, we should include the 2008 electric Jeep Renegade concept. This new Renegade's aluminum body was 153.0 inches (3885mm) long, on a wheelbase of 101.6 inches (2580mm.) It had a 268hp electric motor on each axle, powered for 40 miles by a lithium-ion battery pack. There was also a 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder diesel for extended range.
The Jeep press release went on to say, "The all-new Jeep Renegade concept's lightweight aluminum architecture and regen-braking system help to improve overall efficiency, while dual electric 200 kilowatt (268 horsepower) motors propel a very capable 4x4 system complete with low range and locking differentials.
"The Jeep Renegade concept's 'one-with-nature' personality is emphasized by its large, flaring wheel openings, oversized wheels and tires, and cut-down speedster windshield -- all of which combine to deliver on the Renegade's promise of cross-country fun and agility. Among the unique exterior details are 'deconstructed' rubber-clad headlamps and taillamps, as well as just-for-fun elongated triangular openings in each of the two sculpted doors.
"While the Renegade features a roll bar, it has no top. Instead, the cargo deck just behind the cockpit can be fitted with a variety of 'lids.' Options include a plain lid, or lids configured to accommodate the gear of a particular outdoor day-trip activity, such as mountain biking or kayaking. Or it can come 'as built' -- with formations designed to accommodate two matching water scooters with open storage underneath."
See also a rear view photo (120K JPEG).
Elsewhere on the web, see more details at Autoblog.com.
Thanks to Jim Allen and Ron Szymanski for information on some of these pictures. Thanks to Frank Swygert for details on the Cowboy pickup. Additional information is welcome. -- Derek Redmond
Also on The CJ3B Page, see New Universal Jeep Designs, 1949-52, and a preliminary design for a 4WD car based on the Aero-Willys.
Return to Building Jeeps at The Parkway Plant on The CJ3B Page.
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