Jeepster History and Fun Facts

Greg Zyla
Q: Hi Greg. I always enjoy your columns. I have sent along a photo of my 1967 Jeep Jeepster, which I have owned since the early 1970s.
We just finished a four-year restoration on it and we take it to the Troy car shows that we hold regularly each summer after Memorial Day. My Jeepster has the 90-degree V6 225-inch engine and a three speed on the floor transmission.

Also, I enjoy your stories of the old drag races and muscle cars, and I saw the Sox & Martin drag cars that you have mentioned as they are on display at the Eagles Mere, PA museum open on Sundays and not far from Troy.
Thanks much for your columns. James Bruce, Troy, Pa.

A:James, thanks for the photo you sent along with your letter. Your ’67 Jeepster looks great following the restoration. 
I still receive many letters on the popularity of both the Kaiser Jeepsters like yours and the Willys Overland Jeep products from 1948 to 1950.
In 1953, Kaiser-Frazer officially purchased Willys Overland, taking control of its cars and utility vehicles and becoming the fourth largest auto manufacturer. The sale price was a whopping $63,381,175…an unheard of amount back in 1953.

The Kaiser Jeep Jeepster was re-introduced by Kaiser Jeep to do battle with the International Scout and Ford Bronco.
Introduced in 1966 and called Jeepster Commando 101, the latter number referred to its wheelbase.
Then in late 1969, Kaiser Jeep agreed to sell its Jeep brand vehicles to American Motors Corporation (AMC) which continued to sell the Jeepster Commando right on through 1973.
However, AMC didn’t call the 1972 and 1973 models a Jeepster as AMC preferred the name Commando. Thus, 1971 was the last year that the Jeepster name was available

Today, all Jeepsters are in demand. Willys Overland only built a total of 19,131 Jeepsters from 1948 through 1950 and then sold the remaining inventory titled as 1951 models. Thus, Willys Overland are valuable, but don’t offer the comfort and conveniences like roll up windows, which your Jeepster does have.

As for your Jeepster’s V6 engine, it produces 160 horsepower and 235 torque from its V6 225 inch Kaiser design.
Called the “Dauntless V6,” your engine was an option that really pepped up the performance of the Jeepster that year as the standard four-cylinder produced just 75 horsepower. Overall, 57,350 Kaiser Jeepster 101 Commandos were sold between 1966 and 1971.

Jeepster Commandos came in either station wagon, convertible, pickup, or roadster design.
The AMC Commando came in a 104-inch wheelbase version as opposed to the Jeepster’s 101.
As for power, in 1971 AMC replaced the V6 that powers your Jeepster with the AMC built 232 and 258 inline six engines, dropping the trusty “F-Head Hurricane” 75-horse four cylinder that powered many earlier Jeepsters. In 1972, an AMC 304-V8 was also available and they are rare vehicles these days.
The rarest of all Jeepsters? There’s a 1971 Hurst Performance Jeepster out there, loaded with Hurst goodies, including shifters and interior upgrades.

Want some trivia? General Motors purchased the rights to build the Kaiser design 60-degree V6 engine from AMC in 1974 and it became the famous Buick 231 V6 years later. However, the Dauntless Kaiser V6 was initially a Buick engine to begin with, as Kaiser used it in its CJ Jeeps beginning in 1965. Kaiser then bought the tooling outright in 1967, before selling it back to Buick via AMC in ‘74! Phew! How’s that for some info?

Today’s value of your Jeepster comes thanks to the NADA Classic Cars price guide where a 1967 Jeepster Convertible is listed at $8,750 in average shape to a high of $18,500 for a fully restored beauty.

As for the Eagles Mere Museum you mention here in Pennsylvania, I plan to visit soon as it is open on Sundays as you note. In addition to the Sox & Martin Cuda, there are many other high-performance muscle cars and drag cars to enjoy.

Thanks for your letter James and take good care of your Jeepster! I’ll see you one night at the Troy car shows as I plan to attend a few this year.
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