$3,000 Montana Jeep: 1974 Jeep J-20 Pickup

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Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

I’m in Billings, Montana as we speak and that’s where this 1974 Jeep J-20 Pickup is, too. This pickup is on Craigslist with an asking price of $3,000, despite what the windshield says.

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There isn’t much info given on this cool Jeep J-20 other than it has a V8 and it runs and drives. 1974 was the year that Jeep simplified the naming convention to J-10, J-20, and J-30 for their 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton, and 1-ton pickups. This is then.. a 3/4-ton being a J-20 (Captain Obvious here). I don’t think that this one is a rare Pioneer model, that would have had some badging, stickers, and a few more luxurious appointments. That would be a heck of a find for $3,000 for sure.

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There are no interior photos of this Jeep, unfortunately. The seller has it listed as having 31,000 miles but I think they may have read the odometer incorrectly, it sure looks like 103,113 to me. They list the engine as being a V8 but they don’t say which V8. But in decoding the VIN, I come up with that it’s a Jeep (really!), a 1974 model, made in Toledo and it’s left-hand-drive with a GM automatic, it has a 132-inch wheelbase, it’s a Townside Pickup, it has a 6,500 GVW, and it has a 360 V8 “regular”, which I take to be a 2-barrel since the next one in line would have been a 4-barrel. And, it was the 13,886th Jeep J-20 made that year. How’d I do? I don’t know if this is the famous Quada-Trac, which required at least the 360 V8, and of course this would be the AMC 360 with about 175 hp. Whew, I’m tired. Is anyone into these Jeep pickups? I really like the older generation grilles, but this looks like it could be a fairly good truck for $3,000, what do you think?

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Comments

  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Definitely a QuadraTrac as were all 74 auto;s no matter what engine. J20’s are 1 ton trucks, or at least have 1 ton 8 lug axles. Most J20’s were famr/work vehicles so they would have (in unmolested original condition) low miles, but hard miles on them. Still they are fantastic pickups from a time when trucks were trucks and no luxury vehicles.

    If there’s no big rust issues (floorboards are NOT big rust issues in these) then the 3K price is very fair.

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    • Rustowner

      Quadra trac was an option. Standard transfer case was a Dana 20. J20’s are 3/4 ton trucks. Dana 60 rear axle with a dana 44 front. Most one tons have a dana 60 front axle as well. The last true “1 ton” truck Jeep offered was the single and dual wheel J4000’s

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      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        Not an option, sorry. If you had a slushbox you had a QuadraTrac. There was no Spicer with an automatic when the J10/20 trucks came out. The only case option was whether or not you ticked the low range box on the build sheet

        The QuadraTrac, btw, was an amazing transfer case. Originally designed for military use and migrated to civilian Jeeps it was a full time AWD case that you could “lock” into 4wd with a flip of a switch inside the glove box. Couldn’t do that with the NP cases that followed. Very under rated transfer case.

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  2. Dave Wright

    You must not be a truck guy…….J20 is a 3/4 ton most all brand 3/4 tons have 8 lug wheels…….good little trucks but do not compare with most manufacturers 1 ton models.

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    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      Yep, you’re right, I mispoke. As I said it has 1 ton D60 and D40 axles but it’s a 3/4 ton GVW truck. I’ve owned a few of these over the years along with Grand Wagoneers and Cherokees

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  3. Glen

    Now that is a truck. 2 doors, 4×4, and a fullsize box, …beautiful.

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  4. Dennis M

    If you really like the older generation grilles it could probably be changed fairly easily. Behind that chrome grill the original sheet metal is still there! Probably all that is needed would be the outside grille panel.

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  5. JW

    He probably would sell it a lot quicker if he posted some photos of the interior / bed / under carriage. If not rusted too bad I prefer this for 3K over the Vega for $7500.

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  6. Howard A Member

    So as not to get the “thumbs downers” all angried up for my views on certain vehicles, I will say this is a good find, not great. The front end Scotty likes is the Kaiser Jeep Gladiator line, and was a lot different than these, quality wise. I had a ’78 Cherokee that had a lot of problems, mostly, I feel, stemming from AMC “cheapening” them up, and the Kaiser Jeep ( 1963-1970) was a much better truck. My 6 cylinder got awful mileage,I can only imagine what this would get, but I’m thinking single digit mpg. And here’s where the downer thumbs come in, (ready everybody?), Make a good snowplow, but it’s in a junkyard for a reason. Not the best Jeeps out there.

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    • Dave Wright

      People wouldn’t get so much glee about thumbs downing you if you didn’t complain about it so much……….should have learned that in kindergarten. I have owned a bunch of this platform jeep products. Love my M715’s my first Waggoner was about a 68 model with a 230 OHC 6 cylinder. They are small comared with a suburban, and did get terrible fuel economy, less towing power than a good small block, parts were much more expensive. I have never been a fan of the AMC build quality. The started putting big engines in them about the time smog laws became an issue so the engines never were able to realize there potential. Always poor fuel economy, parts are scarce whitch doesn’t bother me on an exotic vehicle but these are a tool intended for use. Romney’s dad did not do justice to these trucks. I am not a ford guy but all big 3 vehicles built to compete in this type are better to use, larger, better towing, better parts availability, just as robust, better fuel economy and just cheeper to own if really,used. I live my IHC’s the most but parts (when you need them) can be pricy.

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  7. Earl

    Ride was terrible! A friend had one,copper in color but this same truck. We used it to haul firewood on his farm,it had side boards on it and we would stack green oak on it up past the top of the cab and the damned thing bearly sat down on the springs but it rode fairly well with a load on it……………it was a tough truck……….more like a TANK…………………..LMAO

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    • Andy

      I had a J20, 1983 I believe. I remember when I went to register it at the DMV, the lady told me I was mistaken when I put down jeep and pickup, because “jeep don’t make pickups!”

      You are right tho. Those things were tanks!!! Picked up a pallet of concrete, they put it in the back with a forklift. Operator kept dropping the forks, and he told me my truck couldn’t take that load, it was sagging so much. I told him to lift his forks do the trick wasn’t also carry the weight of the forklift – the front tires of the forklift were off the ground! Another time I saw a guy down the road clearing a wooded lot to build a house. Asked him what he was going to do with all the wood, as I could use it for my fireplace. He had a fairly new Silverado that he used to trailer in an ATV. He was using the Atv to trailer out the wood, in small quantities that the Atv could handle. I suggested just driving my truck in and load it there. Guy looks at me and says “be my guest, but if you get stuck, I’m not bringing my truck back here!” I drove in, rolling over stumps and smaller limbs, chuckling to myself as the guy stood there slack jawed! We loaddd that truck up above the roof of the cab, figured there was well over a ton in there, bumper had dropped about 2 inches. Drove that truck right back out same way I came in, went home and dumped it my yard, then went back for a second equally large load. Guy figured I saved him 4-5 hours with those two trips, compared to how many he would have had to make with his Atv!

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  8. GoodoleMike

    Had one in Upper Michigan many years ago. Drove and rode like a truck. Poor thing had rusted to the bone by the time I got her. Plywood on the floors during the winter. Had a good heater, but was really bad on gas mileage.

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  9. Bruce Best

    Check the Toronado for my comments about cars in Idaho and Montana. I suspect this one is the same almost no rust thru’s but a lot of surface rust. I bet it would be a great buy.

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  10. AMCSTEVE

    My buddy also had a copper colored one that had the 258 6 cyl in it 3 on the tree with locking hubs. It was used strictly for plowing in the worst winters and record snowfall in Chicago back in the late 70’s.
    That thing would go thru anything and never quit. Loads of torque and pushing capabilities. It was a spartan work truck not built for comfort but pure work.

    Most of you these days forget what a work truck is because now the are all Cadillacs and cost 50 grand. I’ll take a Jeep pickup or Cherokee anytime. The six was much better on gas and had more torque.

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    • Glen

      You’re right, today a truck is a passenger vehicle. They are mostly 4 doors with a short box, and as luxurious as a Cadillac. I certainly wouldn’t mind a 2 door, full box 4×4 that was nicely done inside, but I don’t have $60,000 .

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  11. DM DeLuka

    J-20 is 3/4 ton; TH-400 behind 360 w/ qradratrac when newer did 15+ mpg. Older Gladiator grill bolts right up (one hanging in garage). Also can add extra set of headlamps or driving lights. Great trucks!

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