Kaiser-Jeep CJ5 (1954-1969)
In 1953, Kaiser Motors purchased Willys-Overland and changed the name to Willys Motors. One year later, the Jeep CJ-5 debuted, a civilian version of the M-38A1 military model. Improvements over the CJ-3B included a longer and wider frame, 12-volt electrical system, new instrument panel, larger windshield, and optional all-weather top.
The 134-cid Willys Hurricane engine, in use since 1950, continued to be the only motor available. Known as the F-Head motor, the "F" represented the valve configuration: the exhaust valves were in the block, and intake valves were in the cylinder head. This allowed the intake valves to be larger. With a compression ratio of 6.9:1, power output was 70-horsepower.
The short wheelbase and narrow frame of the CJ Jeeps allowed them to fit into places where full-size 4x4 trucks could not go. Their ability to maneuver over rough terrain made them ideal for park maintenance vehicles, forest fire protection, and transporting equipment and supplies to hard-to-reach places. Also helping them gain popularity was their low cost of repairs and operation.
In 1963, the Willys-Kaiser name was changed to the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation. Most Jeep historians agree that 1964 and prior Jeeps will have a script "Willys" stamped across the top of the firewall VIN plate; models produced after 1964 will not.
The CJ Jeep's first real competitor, the International Scout, was being offered with V-6 and V-8 engine options for the 1965 model year. Kaiser-Jeep's four-cylinder Hurricane motor now seemed under-powered by comparison. In the Fall of 1965, Kaiser bought the casting rights to Buick's 225-cid V-6 motor.
Dauntless V-6 Engine
Producing nearly double the horsepower of the Hurricane engine, the Buick-designed "Dauntless V-6" made 155 horsepower at 4000 rpm. Net torque was 235 at 2400 rpm. The engine's firing order, 1-6-5-4-3-2, is known as the "odd-fire" pattern. A heavier flywheel was used to increase torque, and also help dampen vibrations of the odd-fire design. The compact V6 configuration fit well into the tight Jeep engine compartment, and proved to be a very popular option. By 1968, more than 75 percent of CJ Jeep's sold were ordered with the Dauntless motor.
During 16 years of Jeep ownership, Kaiser Motors had set up manufacturing plants in dozens of foreign countries, with Jeep models being sold all over the world. Several special editions were offered for the CJ-5, including the 1964-1968 Tuxedo Park, the 1969 Camper; the 1969 "462'' model.
Kaiser-Jeep was bought by American Motors Corporation in 1970, and became Jeep Corporation.