32k Mile Survivor? 1968 Jeep Jeepster Commando

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Launched in 1966, the Jeepster Commando SUV was designed to compete with the likes of the Ford Bronco and International Scout. It did fairly well until after Jeep was acquired from Kaiser by American Motors, but demand began to fall off and the utility vehicle was dropped after 1973. This ’68 edition may only have 32,000 miles and looks remarkably solid for a machine designed for some rugged use. Located in Geneva, Illinois, this beauty is available here on eBay where the current bid is $5,050, but the seller has imposed a reserve north of there.

The Commando was offered in four body styles, including a 2-door wagon like the seller’s example. It rode on a 101-inch wheelbase to maintain a smaller profile. In 1968, you could have the Jeepster with an inline-4 or the “Dauntless” 225 cubic-inch V6 that produced 160 hp. That’s the powerplant that’s under the hood of this Commando (which may be original).

Most of the information provided by the seller is along the lines of facts and figures rather than a history of this 56-year-old device. The olive and white paint look quite good, and the top is of the removable variety. No mention is made of whether any of this has been redone and nothing is said of the tan vinyl upholstery that presents quite well.

The little V6 is paired with a 3-speed manual transmission with a dual-range transfer case for the 4WD. The tires are new, yet the brakes are original and we’re told they’re a mix of discs and drums. One of the nifty options of the Jeep is a chrome luggage rack which seems to be in great shape. If the odometer reading of 32,000 miles is legit, where has this thing been all these years, tucked away in a garage? This seems like a great find if the reserve isn’t set too high.

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  1. JustPassinThru

    This is a great find. The things a buyer might look for, is rust – in the last years of Kaiser, factory paint was slap-and-dash, hit-and-miss – and general wear, to be sure it’s not 132k. The speedo cluster was 1950s primitive, also, and could easily be disassembled and rolled back. The seller may honestly not have any knowledge it had been done.

    The engine bay, with its JCWhitney air cleaner, suggests hard use, even if not use that added miles.

    Back in the day, it was a young man’s car – something a single man who favored outdoor living, would get. I could see a guy in the military, buying one with his money after a tour of Vietnam or other deployment – and then, as it sat in Dad’s garage, life happened. He moved elsewhere, acquired a spousal unit who expected more refined transport.

    Eventually it would be sold; but by that time, the Jeepster and derivatives were far in the rear-view. For a long time they weren’t given much respect in the Jeep enthusiasts’ community. Perhaps someone with unusual tastes, or foresight, bought it as a future flip or for future appreciation.

    Like 12
    • EuromotoMember

      “spousal unit.” I just tried that out on my wife. It was “slap-and-dash, hit-and-miss” from there. Mostly slap and hit on her part, with me dashing and hoping for a miss…

      Like 17
      • John Morrissey

        I think I married your wife’s sister.

        Like 14
  2. Rw

    Commandos are very cool

    Like 11
    • DrBob

      Really, prefer to wear underwear, boxer briefs to be clear. But go commando as you choose. Lol

      Like 0
  3. HoA HoAMember

    Well, yes and no. To be clear, the Commando was really a modernized Willys Jeepster, marketed as more of a sports car, that didn’t really have much of a following either. This, I read, was supposed to be the mid range offering between a CJ and a Willys wagon. Thing was, nobody wanted a mid range Jeep at the time. I happen to think these were the coolest Jeeps ever made,,YJ withstanding, of course. It had one of the best V6s made, war proven mechanicals, and rode like a car with plenty of room. Should have been a veritable hit, no? Wha’ happent’? No, not going to be the foreign car rant, even though Landcruiser did hurt, it was the full sized Bronco and Blazer, even the Cherokee, and the no real market for the Commando. If I could trade my YJ on a Commando, I’d do it in a minute, but you know how that is. Their stuff is gold, your stuff is worthless. Great find and far more realistic as far as price. Thank you to the great folks of Illinois!

    Like 17
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

      HoA, I knew I liked you! I am one of the very few whole love the Jeepster and Comanndo. My fave is the ’67 Jeepster soft top with the factory Continental rear bumper and tire.
      There is a cool factor there that appearently no one else sees.

      Like 4
  4. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

    IIRC, the Jeepster Commando was built to compete with the Ford Bronco and IH Scouts, which were built to compete with Jeep CJ’s…hmmm.

    Was Jeep’s upper echelon scrambling at the time to find a clear vision?

    Like 5
    • JustPassinThru

      Trying to answer the critics, who said the Jeep was too primitive, the Wagoneer too big, the basket-weave wagon (discontinued 1965) too outdated.

      By this time, Kaiser-Jeep’s future wasn’t clear. Sales were good, but Henry Kaiser was aging, not well, and died in 1967. That brought tax problems, as estate planning was inadequate – in the end, after Henry’s death, all of Kaiser Industries’ components were sold or closed.

      So, engineering wasn’t done on the level done with the J-Series, six years earlier. This was a fresh body on a CJ-6 chassis – and leaving much of the mechanicals alone. The rear springs were moved outside the frame rails, but that was about it. From the cowl forward, it was identical to a CJ – even the elephant-eared grille was just a CJ grille with the top wider sections tack-welded on. The drag-link steering setup remained; even the base engine was the ancient, inadequate F-Head Willys engine.

      It was a retro, or tribute, car, recalling the original Jeepster. Whether it was expected to be a serious competitor, is another question. The 4×4 market was shifting from commercial vehicles to private recreational-use sales, and for Kaiser management, that was a strange, new area. Willys and Kaiser-Frazer management, in the past, both showed blind spots when competing for consumer car buyers; it was why the downsized Willys/Jeep management focused on government contract sales.

      Like 9
      • Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

        Excellent history lesson and explanation, JustPassinThru, and thank you.

        Isn’t it ironic that situation was somewhat repeated again in part by MoPar and it was acquisition of the Jeep brand that saved it from, well, TOTAL extinction though AMC initially bought Jeep to compete with the rest of them.

        Not sure why my initial response was posted twice..

        Like 0
      • John Morrissey

        I think I married your wife’s sister.

        Like 3
  5. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

    IIRC, the Jeepster Commando was built to compete with the Ford Bronco and IH Scouts, which were built to compete with Jeep CJ’s but didn’t re-engineer it for the V8’s until much later…hmmm.

    Was Jeep’s upper echelon scrambling at the time to find a clear vision?

    Like 0
    • JustPassinThru

      There didn’t seem to be the need. Kaiser had just spent a fair amount buying the rights and tooling to the Buick Fireball V6 – and even then, output on that engine was impressive. As was later demonstrated, a V8 would have required a complete chassis reworking (the frame on CJs and Jeepsters had to be stretched two inches) and led to supply problems. Already Kaiser was flailing, there – they had to replace the AMC 327 V8 (discontinued) with a Buick 350 in the Wagoneer/Gladiator. Probably that was seen as a win for Buick, getting a few extra 350s sold, when the trend with their own cars was for bigger, more powerful engines. Selling to a non-competing outside company gave them better economies of scale.

      So, no doubt, they were hoping that loyalty to the Jeep brand and Jeep CJ mechanicals, would be stronger than desires for the V8s their competitors were selling.

      Nor was AMC’s addition of their own V8s a real improvement – they added considerable nose weight, and IIRC, the 304 V8 had less power than the V6.

      And in the C-104 Commando’s case, it dropped sales, didn’t increase numbers.

      Like 2
  6. Sal Monella

    Scant details of a very low miles car is a definite RED FLAG !!!

    Like 4
  7. Brian Pabst

    I love the Jeepster Commando. I’ve had the pleasure of owning and caring for three off them. The only downfall of the Buick Dauntless 225 was the timing chains. Also the breaks can’t be original. As disc brakes weren’t an option on this generation of the Jeepster.

    Like 0
  8. G Lo

    Any vehicle from Illinois needs a lot of undercarriage photos. Illinois seems to make their roads out of salt mixed with a little bit of asphalt. Otherwise it’s a hard no on any vehicle based there.

    Like 4
  9. D Pureblood

    I had two and loved them. Wish I had that one.

    Like 0
  10. johnj

    Their all Sisters……..

    Like 0
  11. Gil Davis Tercenio

    I had a ’73 Commando. It didn’t have the Jeep grill; it looked more like a Nash grill. My Commando had the AMC 258 straight six coupled to a TurboHydramatic 400 transmission.

    I never worried about overstressing that tranny. :D

    Like 0
  12. Ted

    FYI… Sold for $11,100.

    Like 1

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