Rise of the Flight Tugs: 1986 Jeep CJ

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

From fire trucks to luggage carriers to moving staircases, a modern airport is full of interesting and useful vehicles. What might surprise you is that at some point, the classic Jeep Wrangler was running around the tarmac hauling aircraft here and there. That’s why this 1986 CJ10A flight tug here on eBay caught my eye, as I’ve never seen one before and can only imagine how many jaws would drop at the local off-road trail if you rolled up in it. 

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The resemblance is uncanny – you can still make out the semblance of a civilian-grade Jeep underneath that weird body cladding. Given the olive green colors, I suspect this example was used primarily at a local military base rather than a commercial jetliner airport. The seller had big plans for this oddball Jeep, but has recently opened a brewery and needs the cash instead.

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There’s just one catch: given the need for instant torque and little need for high speed cruising, this tug is locked in 2WD low from the factory! You won’t be going anywhere fast with that setup, but according to the seller, he’s including the parts needed for a transfer case conversion to make this Jeep a little more practical when you run out of things to haul with the pintle hooks on the back.

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Photo courtesy PopularClassics.com

The image above gives you an idea of how this Jeep could look restored with new paint and restored bumpers (and steel wheels). If the transfer case conversion isn’t too much work, this will make for a one-of-a-kind truckster that will get looks at Jeep events and Cars & Coffee alike. Combine the unusual bodywork with the 3.3L diesel engine and you have a version of the Wrangler that’s hard to repeat.

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Comments

  1. Dave Wright

    Again, I have owned several of these along with there Dodge bretherin. Jeff……you misread the ad. The transfer cases in these are incomplete from the factory. They only have low range 2 wheel drive mechanics. It is not damaged, it is the way they came. Also they have the junk Mitisibishi diesel we discussed in an earlier thread. I used to buy the Dodge versions very cheep and strip out the components to sell. They had a normally aspirated Cummins 6b engine that is used in many industrial applications. So, if you never want to drive over 5MPH these are fine. Otherwise……..just parts and not a lot of them will interchange with anything useful.

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    • Rustowner

      Never have seen one with a “junk” Mitshu engine as you say. Every single one I’ve seen or had came equipped with an SD33 series Nissan NA oil burner hooked to a Torqueflite. Pretty much like the IH Scout setup. Please explain, since you have owned several. Curious.

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      • Dave Wright

        You are correct……..I misspoke. It is the junk Nissan….same as used in Scouts and Dodge sedans.

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  2. Larry W Blum Jr

    I drove some of these in the USAF while stationed at Tyndall AFB, FL. We used them to pull munitions trailers between the munitions storage area to the flight line and back. Very torquey but the top speed was very slow! This one brings back a few memories.

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  3. Larry W Blum Jr

    The ones I drove had the Nissan engine.

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  4. Walter Joy

    They’re usually found in Australia.

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  5. Rick Aufderheide

    I had an Aussie CJ 8 they called an Overlander. It had a very unique fixed steel top… I think they tried to make it look a land rover. When I was refurbishing it… I toyed with the idea of getting a surplus Tug and graft the fenders and Grille from the tug onto the Overlander… Whould have made a great FrankenJeep

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    • Rustowner

      Rick, that’s a very cool Jeep right there. Wish we had gotten that top option here in the states. Are there many CJ8’s down under? Personally, I heavily prefer the traditional CJ front end not the “sad guppy” CJ10 front ends. To each his own though!

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  6. Mike

    That’s no wrangler… In 1986 these were still AMC made CJs. The name wrangler was made popular with the first YJs in 1987, that were made by Chrysler after the AMC buyout.

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