Low Production Project: 1979 Jeep J-10 Honcho

Jeep is known for more than just its small, off-road vehicles. They also have a rich history in the pickup truck business. Such the case was the J-Series built from 1971 to 1988. For most of this time, these trucks were built under the watchful eye of American Motors, which acquired Jeep from Kaiser in 1970, This 1979 Honcho is a special trim option that was available in those days, which included special graphics and a Levi interior. It’s being offered by a Jeep aficionado who is thinning the herd. Located in Hood River, Oregon, this Honcho is available here on craigslist for $8,500. Thanks for the awesome tip, T.J.!

For the middle years of the J-Series pickups (1976-81), the Honcho was a trim package that consisted of bold striping and decals and fancy interior pieces or a roll bar. You could only get it with the Sportside short-bed version (flat-sided bed). They were seldom seen in that just 1,264 Honcho’s were built across six model years. If you opted for a V8 engine, your choices were the AMC 360 or 401 (oddly, the small-block 304 isn’t listed as being available). We don’t know which of these powers the seller’s truck.

The seller has quite the collection of Jeep picks and Wagoneers (wagons) and has decided to sell a couple of them off, including this Honcho. It’s seen more than its share of use at 145,000 miles and is rough around the edges. We’re told it’s a daily driver, and its mechanical bits are okay. But the fuel system needs to be cleaned out. The main problems lie with the body and especially the bed, which is said to contain quite a few small holes. But the sheet metal has not escaped the rust bug either. The underpinnings of the pickup are said to be solid.

You’ll need to do some work on the interior and the seller is throwing in an excellent set of door panels (Levi). The dash is good, but the steering wheel is not correct on this 4-wheel-drive version of the J-10. The seller is not opposed to doing some fix-up work on this Jeep, but as he/she does, the price will go up. If you’re in the market for the predecessor of the Comanche and like the idea of a somewhat rare truck, maybe this project is up your alley.


  1. Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    Hood River? Michelles stompin’ grounds, no?
    Webster defines “Honcho” as: leader, big shot, high muckety muck, bigwig, heavy hitter,,you get the point, all to describe a pickup? Can you image the names that didn’t make the cut. I think regardless, they were great trucks, even though, my experience with a ’78 Cherokee was dismal, I’m NOT one of those yahoos that has a bad car, therefore ALL those are bad. It’s clear some people from Oregin[sic]have the same disease Calyforny folks exhibit, all this beater is good for, is hang a plow, and park it ’round back for maybe a grand. The plow would be worth more.

    Like 6
  2. Maggy

    I don’t see 8500 for this truck. 3500 obo I could see imo.But I’m not a Jeep guy so let the market price it.Cool truck though for sure.

    Like 5
  3. JustPassinThru

    What was called the J-10 from 1974, is the same truck as was the Kaiser-Jeep Gladiator, which dated back to 1963.

    The Gladiator name was phased out in 1972, but AMC’s marketing people had nothing to replace it with. In the sales flyers, it was just called the “truck.” On the fender badging, it was called the J-1000, J-2000, J-3000.

    In 1974, the decision was made to renumber them J-10 and J-20. I think the one-ton cab-and-chassis, which would have been the J-3000, didn’t carry over past 1973.

    Yeah, it gets fuzzy. Part of the reason was, AMC was busily trying to pretend they had a new product, where in fact the truck model was 17 years old by this time.

    Yet they were loathe to change it. The Wagoneer and Cherokee were selling like gangbusters, and the J truck shared the line and chassis. And they didn’t have the money, at that point – all the failed Matadors and Pacers sucked all the money out of the company.

    So they did what they had to do. The SUV wagons made enough money to keep the lights on, until the deal with Renault could be inked. The truck, not so much…selling in four figures per year, its last eight years or so.

    Like 3
  4. Ed H

    I would need to get a “Mike” decal printed up and tastefully apply it above the Honcho.

    Like 1
  5. Big C

    A daily driver that has fuel delivery issues. Hmmm…

    Like 3
  6. Jeff Shore

    I think a surviving tailgate is worth more than the rest of the truck. Most of these I see, no tailgate.

    Wheeled a J10 back in the 90s in hot springs Arkansas with a bunch of Wranglers at Jeep Jamboree, got stuck a few times. Later found that the vacuum line to the “lockers” was not working. Good times!

    Like 0
  7. Ron R

    Says its a 1979 which would have been a square headlight model. This truck has the Razor Grill and round headlights which is 1978 and before.

    Like 2
    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      It’s probably the correct year but without the vin there’s now way to know for sure. With just about everything interchangeable throughout the run, it’s not at all unusual to see grilles and lights backdated…I did to more than a few of my FS Jeeps

      Like 0

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