Worth Restoring? 1971 Jeepster Commando

There are many cars that claim the name of “first SUV.” The Jeep Cherokee is what’s mostly credited with that, but the AMC Eagle also shows up from time to time. SUV, a relatively new denomination of vehicle, already has several different ancestors it can call upon, mostly produced under the Jeep nameplate. Newer still is the denomination of “crossover,” a vehicle that sits between an SUV and a car. The Jeepster Commando, I would argue, could be viewed as an early ancestor to the modern crossover. Not quite an SUV, not quite a car, somewhere in between, creating its own market. You can find this Jeepster Commando here on eBay.

1971 was the last model year of the “Jeepster” proper, in 1972 they switched to the Jeep nameplate. 1971 was an exciting time. Not only was it the last year of the Jeepster nameplate, but it also was the last year of the Dauntless V-6, which this model comes equipped with. Producing 160 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, it’s not exactly fast by modern standards, but you could keep up with modern traffic if you decided to daily it. Importantly: it doesn’t run. If it did, you wouldn’t be expected to shift your own gears because it comes well-optioned with an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

Underneath, there’s rust. It’s not as bad as it could be, but definitely something to watch out for during the necessary restoration. It looks like the frame and underbody have surface rust, nothing too serious like holes punched through structural components. Having said that, it’s far from perfect. There’s bubbled paint and some rust holes on non-structural components. The benefit of this being a predecessor to modern crossovers and not a crossover in and of itself is that it’s still body-on-frame. Some rust on one bit of the body does not mean that the bones of the thing are shot, and luckily the bones look decent for what it is.

The whole car looks relatively complete, though. Inside, you’ve got seats that look comfortable, carpet, and a complete dashboard. You’re likely going to need to reupholster or replace the seats–I notice a few rips in the leather. You could definitely get away with doing just a mechanical refresh on this rather than a full bolt-by-bolt restoration, but a full restoration would leave you much happier in the end. You’d have a complete car, ready to take on the day with the top off and the sun scorching the seats, and thus, your legs.


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  1. Jay

    I had one of those too. Auto is unusual.

    Like 1
  2. Joel

    I had one optioned as a 2 seater pickup. Equipped with a 6 foot snow plow. With enough weight in the bed it was almost unstoppable in snow. I had to plow with the window open because the defroster would only clear 2 patches about 4 inches square on the windshield! It got so rusty it was hard to steer when cornering.

    Like 2
  3. Tom in Port Washington

    Not leather, vinyl.

  4. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Ruckersville, Virginia

  5. GCS Member

    Something tells me the leather seats were donated from something else. I like it but can’t weld, so I’d be screwed. Hopefully someone saves it.

    Like 2
  6. Pete Phillips

    That V6 was developed by Buick, then sold to Jeep, and subsequently bought back from Jeep/AMC in the mid-1970s. So, engine parts should not be too difficult to find. Buick used the 225 V6 from 1964-1967.

    Like 1
  7. chrlsful

    screwed, as thin as paper, they were right needs total restore, wonder bout the frame, shame…

  8. t-bone BOB

    Jun 17, 2021
    Winning bid:
    US $1,675.00
    [ 5 bids ]

  9. Foster Busby Member

    somebody stole this ride!! got one identical to it, has been easy to find/replace parts (new gas tank, brakes, timing chain, seats, all new rubber gaskets, made my own 4″ lift kit by flipping axles) having a ball as daily driver–currently adding A/C–much more stable than CJ’s, especially steering (factory power, front shackles on rear of spring instead of in front)

    Like 1

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