Loaded 4×4: 1981 Jeep J10 Thriftside

I noticed that this 1981 Jeep J10 4×4 pickup has a factory CB radio and I was hoping that it was a rare 10-4 edition with special graphics, but I don’t think it is. In any case, the seller has this nice example listed here on eBay in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the current bid price is $7,250 and there are still four days left on the auction. Thanks to Russell G. for sending in this tip!

I don’t see the 10-4 graphics and I don’t know if they came on a Thriftside (Jeep’s version of the stepside/flareside) box version or not, and I think they were just offered for 1978 and 1979, maybe? Enough of that. This Jeep looks pretty nice and I can see why the bids are as high as they are with still four days left. There is no reserve on this one and I can’t believe that it’ll sell for anything less than, maybe $14,000? Any thoughts on what it’ll sell for?

The J10 is the shorter version which would be by far more popular in today’s market. My $14,000 guess might be a little low, I’m betting that this auction may mysteriously end early if it doesn’t get to at least double the current bid price over the next four days. Formerly known as the Gladiator – an actual name, what a concept – Jeep moved on to J2000/J4000 and then J10/J20 depending on the wheelbase. I like the name Gladiator myself, letters and numbers don’t usually do it for me as far as vehicle names go. How about you?

This is one fancy Jeep no matter what its name is. It almost looks like leather seating material but it must be vinyl? I’d go this route for now. You can see a few small tears on the driver’s seat but the passenger side looks good other than a long seam separation. That carpet though, ouch. For $150 I’m changing that. Having power windows in a Jeep pickup is about as cool as it gets in my world, as sad as that sounds. I’m an options guy and I know that a Jeep pickup is meant to be as tough as nails made by rugged people on a rugged assembly line for even more rugged men and women to own and drive, but still, power windows and power locks are cool to see here. Enough of that. I’ve already mentioned the CB radio and here it is.

There’s the telltale small, chrome, rectangular air filter of a Weber carb conversion. The engine should be AMC’s 258 inline-six and the seller gives less than zero information about the condition, operating or otherwise, of this sweet-looking Jeep pickup but given how nice it looks we have to assume that it also runs well, don’t we? With no reserve the only way this one will sell is if it gets to at least double the current bid price, am I right or am I right? What’s your guess on the hammer price?


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  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Rare truck. Those Thriftside fenders are made of unobtanium and to find them in such good shape alone makes this a unicorn. Especially with the option list having power windows/locks as well as the chrome step bumper, ac, body color roll bar, the muscle grille, the brush bar, the lack of rust on the bottom of the front flares, doors, bed…even with the anemic 258/auto transmission pair I’ll be shocked if it goes for less than 22k

    Like 8

      258 is not anemic. It’s a torque monster.

      Like 5
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        I totally agree. But in a full size pick up with that auto behind it it wheezes in standard 80’s epa configuration. As I said though, it’s easy to wake them up and make full use of that torque

        Like 3
  2. Terrry

    I always liked the J-10s, some of the best-looking trucks ever built. But I’ve never seen a step-side version. I like this, and if I had the $$ to burn I’d jump in on the auction action.

    Like 8
  3. Randy Donahue

    Love the black electrical tape covering a check engine or other warning light.😄

    Like 4
    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      No cel on these

      Like 3
  4. CCFisher

    It’s interesting to see such a well-equipped truck with a six under the hood. Perhaps the original owner was driving a 454 Chevy when the 1979 energy crisis and vowed to be better prepared for the next one?

    Like 5
    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      The only two engines on these were the 258 or the 360. A lot of these were sold with 6’s but not a lot of them stayed that way if you know what I’m saying. The flip side of that is I once bought one that had a 360/4spd and everything else was base base base. Didn’t even have a radio

      Usually these are either rusted and clapped out or fully restored/modded. Interesting to find a survivor

      Like 5
  5. Gunner

    Jumping Jeepsters! What a rare truck! Never knew these were built using the Thriftside Fenders. Never have seen one. The CB Radio option is super cool. Optioned as it is, it is indeed a unicorn and should by rights bring big bucks. I bet when it was new, it really stood out in a crowd and people would say, “what is it”? I will be watching it for sure!

    Like 4
  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    My guess is we’ll check the auction either later today or tomorrow and it will be nla

    And then in a few months we’ll see it on BaT with those couple flaws fixed

    Like 4
  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    The last Sportside I owned had a trashed fender. This was 15 years ago and I found ONE available and the guy wanted $1000 for it. 15 years ago. I bet that pair of fenders on this eBay truck is worth half the bid right now. Just saying…

    And…Just a matter of correction…these were called Sportsides not Thriftsides. Thrifty’s went back to Gladiator and J2000/4000 days

    Like 3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks for the correction, wjns! Oddly enough, on literally the Jeep.com website, in the “History in the 1980s” section, they refer to the boxes as either slab-side or step-side! Weird.

      Like 3
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        Hi Scotty, no worries! They’re rare configurations so not surprising there’s confusion in the market…but yeah, you would think Jeep.com would at least have the correct info. That said, I’m sure there are very few people employed at today’s Jeep that even know about those days

        For full size Jeep info, check out ifsja.org There are a LOT of full sized Jeep enthusiasts, wrenchers and a trove of knowledge there

        Like 1
  8. Howard A Member

    A “10-4” edition,,,good heavens, let me just “get a good grip on that”, by golly. 1st, they’re kidding, right? No, really, they’re kidding, NO? 2 thoughts here, the truck, and the CB radio. 1st, the truck, while it may look like a Kaiser, brother, it ain’t no Kaiser. AMC “cheapened” these up to the point of frustration like no other. Not the mechanicals, still as bulletproof as ever, but little things, electrical and plastic mostly, will drive you nuts.
    2nd, the CB radio. In the late 70’s, and early 80’s, CB radio was king. It predated cell phones for ( somewhat) private conversations, and everyone from gramps, “just listening in” in his Caddy ( GM offered CB radios too), to” Marvin in the motorhome”, uttering profanities, got into the act. To many like me, it was literally a life saver, and kept me awake many a night, “ratchet jawing” with my friends.( Can’t you tell, obviuosly never lost that, 10, dash,4) I don’t see a CB antenna or microphone,, and those AM/FM radio antennas, got you out about 10 feet, besides, who you going to talk to anyway? Hoaky graphics aside, it’s a nice find. Having a late 70’s Cherokee, with dismal experience, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. GM, Ford and Dodge, were just better trucks..

    Like 3
  9. butchb

    I believe Jeep was the first auto company to offer a 0% finance agreement, back about 1987(?).
    I was interested in buying a J series but when i contacted the dealer I was informed the 0% loan was only available on their small truck line and I passed on the deal.

    Like 2
  10. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Boy, I am surprised that 1) this is still a live auction, and 2) it’s still at 7500

    The seller isn’t exactly a novice…there’s a red J-Truck sitting in the background of one of the pics. I still think this won’t last til auction end…it will either be bough off-line or the seller will pull it. PPI aside, this is wayyyy too cheap if it is as presented

    If I had more room and fewer projects I’d be actively pursuing this one

    Like 1
  11. Frozenbird

    The movie Tremors had Kevin Bacon running around in one very rugged version of this. Apparently when they went to make Tremors II they wanted to have a similar truck in the movie but by that time these became impossible to find anymore. Very cool truck!

    Like 4
  12. Keith Johnson

    J-10/J-20 indicated the payload, not the wheelbase. J-10’s we’re 1/2 ton, J-20’s 3/4 ton. The long wheelbase trucks are pretty rare.

    Like 4
  13. Ignatius J. Reilly

    Wondering if the author’s fondness for the name “Gladiator” has anything to do with that old joke. About the happy Roman.;)

    Like 1
  14. John

    10, 4 thrift side and mention of graphics kind of lost me.
    I Would like some help to get a better understanding.
    Does this Jeep have a long bed or short? Looks short to me.

    I ask because we have a 1978 J-10 stepside short bed 4×4 Honcho.
    Pretty original truck, belonged to my father, a project he never did get too. .
    Going to sell it, so I was quite curios to learn more so I do not misrepresent what it is.
    Schooled in many vehicles, but not a Jeep Honcho

    Like 1
    • Johnny

      I have a 71. Hope to get started on it next year. It has a 304 003 speed. When dad and I bought it and took it home. Nothing worked on it.We bought it at a dealer. About a week later I ran unto the lady who had it. She told the truth about it. She said as long as her and her husband had it. They didn,t do anything to it. She said the truth. hahaha

  15. Frozenbird

    @John, all J10’s are short bed as far as I know and J20’s are the long beds. If you go onto Phoenix Graphics website they describe this truck as a “sportside” and the regular flat side box as a “townside”. They also show the factory Honcho decal package for both boxes from the different era’s. I do love the “sportside” J10’s though, with a 3-4″ lift and some 35″ tires they look so killer, especially in the Honcho dress

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      That’s not quite true. J10’s were available in long bed and short bed with most of the short bed trucks…I say “most”…being package trucks. ie, Golden Eagle, Honcho, Laredo, 10-4, etc

      But there were absolutely long bed J10’s

      Like 4
  16. chrlsful

    any step side, short box, 4WD is tops to me. Love this motor too.

  17. wuzjeepnowsaab

    NOW the bidding is getting respectable. 15,700 at last check

  18. Andy B

    I “had” a J-20 years ago. Bought it off a neighbor for around $700. He told me the guy he bought it from had bought it from a govt auction, and that it was a former forestry Dept truck.

    Somewhere along the line, the 360 died, so somebody dropped a 440 in it. 4-lo wouldn’t engage, you had to get out and lock the hubs when you wanted 4 wheel drive.

    It had 16.5” rims. Original spare was still with the truck – that tread looked like the letter “W” stretched across the width. Anything you could find later had one extra set of grooves, so it looked like “VW”. We got blasted with a couple back to back snowstorms, most people couldn’t move, that thing just drove thru 2’ of snow like it was bare ground.

    Loved that truck, but at 7-8 mpg, definitely wasn’t an everyday driver! Kept it until the head gasket blew and seized the engine…

    Like 1
  19. John

    Thanks for answering a few of my questions.
    The Honcho was a 6 cylinder unit.
    My dad bought a golden eagle to pull the V-8, trans and transfer case out of.
    That is what powers the Honcho now.
    A/c, p steering, auto, p brakes, brown, cruise, levi interior I guess?
    Original aluminum wheels.

  20. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one sold for $18,300!


      Someone got a great deal!

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