Right Hand Drive: 1974 Postal Jeep DJ5

How cool is this?  A right-hand drive 1974 postal Jeep DJ!  These Jeeps were made for the U.S. Postal Service from the 1950’s to the 1980’s and delivered countless letters and packages over the decades.  This specific Jeep should be a DJ5C and is for sale here on craigslist in Silverdale, Washington, with an asking price of $2,000. I’ve never driven a right-hand drive vehicle. If you have, comment about it. I’m curious if it’s as cool as it seems or if the novelty wears off quickly.

Look at that deluxe interior! These Jeeps were certainly purpose built and extra utilitarian, even compared to their CJ cousins. There are only a few pictures in the ad and even less words.  It’s hard to tell what’s there and what’s not. It appears the seat (seats?) are missing along with some miscellaneous wiring hanging out of the very basic dash. While the interior is sparse, it leaves a blank canvas to do your own customization.

The engine is the original 6 cylinder AMC 3.8 liter.  It features a new carburetor, alternator and “miscellaneous running parts”.  These 6 bangers will not win many drag races, but the torque, gas mileage and reliability are hard to beat.  After all, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds (unofficial post office motto), especially in a Jeep!

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Comments

  1. LAB3

    A friend of mine is a retired rural letter carrier and was driving one of these as his personal vehicle up until last summer. His was a four banger with just under 100k miles and the engine finally let loose. Turned out there’s a saddle bearing type part that keeps the cam held in place with a nylon insert that finally gave out leaving him stranded about two hours from home. Turned out the only place to get parts is a junkyard that has a huge stockpile of old ones around that specializes in them. Parts are available but it appears you only have one choice, not that they overcharge but they’re awfully busy and it can take awhile to get them.

    • Metoo

      Way back in the early 90’s I lived in seattle. On the main road going to the airport, in a industrial area, was a building that had dozens of them, surplus, for sale. A missed opportunity.

  2. Gerbrand Prinsloo

    I live in Namibia and my daily drivers is a LHD Bronco and a RHD Landcruiser.
    I does not really bother me driving either, although it is a bit difficult overtaking in the LHD on our left lane driving if you are too close to another vehicle.
    Best is by alterating between the two, I get an even sun tan on both arms and not just one.

    1
  3. KEN TILLY

    Driving a right hand drive vehicle on American roads will take you about 15 minutes to get right. When I visited USA from South Africa the only concern that I had to be careful doing was left hand turns as I tended to end up having lots of headlights flashing at me! I have also had many LHD American cars in SA without any problems.

  4. Brakeservo

    Driving RHD is no different than LHD – you still have to stop for red lights and not exceed the speed limit too much. If you’re smart you find passing, turning left and even fast food drive throughs are no problem. So when someone says to me “oh, I could NEVER drive right hand drive” I reply that they shouldn’t drive LHD either then!

    • Blyndgesser

      I agree till it comes to the matter of shifting gears left handed. I have not recovered from the left hand column shift in an Austin Princess I had to drive a few times for work back in 1987-88.

  5. Brakeservo

    All of my fun cars are RHD.

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    Funny ( to me) story, many years ago, I knew someone that bought one of these cheap, because they always wanted a 4 wheel drive Jeep. When I saw it, I asked, did you make sure this was a 4 wheel drive? You can imagine their shock when I pointed out the 2 wheel drive. They thought all Jeeps were 4 wheel drive. True story. These hauled a lot of mail over the years. I knew someone that worked at the post office, and they told me, when they died, they literally threw them in a big dumpster ( to be crushed, I imagine) I didn’t believe that until one day, she showed me a big dumpster with the back of one of these sticking out.

    • Dallas

      I can confirm that except with a “quartered” Pinto in the PO garage dumpster. Seemed someone had previously bought a surplus vehicle, had an accident, claimed the PO was at fault and sued for damages. Thus the story of the dumpster cars.

    • Tyler Member

      I unfortunately was under the same 4×4 assumption of all Jeeps. And to think I had a hellova deal at the time…Wisconsin’s Winters continues to conquer the 4×2 Jeep.

  7. gord

    had a 1990 willy jeep (mitsubishi bought the willys pattern as it were and built them into the 90s… diesel BUT right hand drive
    not hard but…
    passing… well the passenger gets to know sooner than you if safe!
    and
    shifting… ended up selling as my left hand is really dumb… constantly thinking about the shift pattern. it is EXACTLY the same (not mirrored) as it would be if sitting in the left seat… so 1st is up and AWAY from you (towards you if on left)… just could not get that hand to act without thinking

    controls were mirrored though so constantly activating the wiper instead of signal
    but foot pedals in same orientation… .so this partial mirror and not could get confusing (wiper/signal flipped, not shifter / pedals… sounds simple but training your left hand to do something your right one does “naturally” takes time IF possible

  8. Cameron

    There are still a couple of these sitting outside of my local postal annex. The newest one was last registered in 2009 was a 4 cylinder and two wheel drive, though I guess early versions had the 232.

  9. Ben T. Spanner

    Right hand drive in the US makes passing more difficult, as you can not see around the vehicle in front of you. With this thing passing won’t be attempted.

    There were no rear seats. There was a shelf in the left front for letter and package sorting. These things lived a rough life. My carrier makes 700 stops in less than 15 miles.Even in Southwest Florida, these rusted soon and extensively. I doubt the contract price allowed for any rust protection.

    The novelty will soon wear off leaving you with a slow tippy two wheel drive vehicle.

    • Brakeservo

      Why do you write things like your comment on passing in a RHD vehicle? Clearly you’ve never driven one or you wouldn’t say that. Everyone that drives RHD here finds that if you use just got a bit of sense and thinking it really is no more difficult than in a LHD car.

    • jackthemailman

      Pass WHAT in a Postal jeep? Maybe a bicycle (if the kid is under 5); otherwise, no way.

      2
  10. Paul

    My first assignment while serving in the USAF was in England. I was not able to ship my American car over so I bought a right hand drive to blend in, a Super Mini, 998cc!!! The first two weeks were a getting used to period then I was alright until I rotated back to the states. You would have thought coming back to a left hand drive and driving on the right side of the road would have been a snap… Not so for me. Took a long time to make that adjustment. Luckily, no one got hurt…

  11. glen

    I don’t want to see something usable, scrapped, but I have no use for this.It’s RHD, 2WD,not sporty and built for one person. It’s good for what it was designed for, mail, what else? It sounds like they rust, too. … oddball, is accurate!

  12. Fred w.

    My daily mail is still delivered in one of these and that’s probably true in hundreds of small towns nationwide. I feel bad for the postman who is hit in one, as there is literally no protection compared to modern cars. I guess this is where they all ended up…

  13. Paul

    I wanted one of these back in high school so badly. It was so simple and utilitarian (and cheap), and all I wanted was something to haul my drums around in.

    Of course, being a teenager, I gave zero thought to things like comfort, safety, or even rust.

  14. Dave Wright

    Brakeservo@ you sound a little testy over this issue. I drove my LHD Maserati in The UK a fair amount in the late 70’s. It could be terrifying mostly because I was driving faster than most cars on the road and there were few divided highways then. We drove a LHD rental car for a couple of months there on a recent trip, it wasn’t bad because we weren’t driving faster than most traffic and there are many more divided highways today. I raced LHD cars without any issue but passing in a wrong sided vehicle (either left or right) on a 2 lane road and oncoming traffic can be an adventure. Servo, I had Thanksgiving with my son’s Rainer Oregon high school teacher in laws, Your name came up……………

  15. John M.

    An elementary school teacher whom I had back in the mid 70s had one of these former postal jeeps as his daily driver. The other teachers didn’t care much for it but the other kids and I though it was cool as anything and it served the teacher well for several years.

  16. Tom

    In the late 80’s I worked in a garage and we had the service contract for the local post office. I serviced a lot of these and in typical government fashion they wanted the cheapest of everything in a vehicle that was driven in the worst possible way. They wanted 30 weight NON DETERGENT oil which you could not get and the cheapest brake pads possible. Just look into this carefully if you are interested as maintenance was probably very similar.

  17. Wagon master

    Jeep and 6 cyl gas mileage in the same sentence?

  18. Ken

    I needed a cheap car quickly, so I looked at a friends P.O. Jeep,bought one drove it a couple years till the gas tank started leaking when more than a 1/4 tank so I parked it. Son & I had a blast in it, when it was hot leave the door open ! Wish I had kept it, it made a great work/ run around runner. Only problem I had was trying to pay the toll.

  19. Big Mike

    Back in the 80’s to mid 90’s, my Dad had a contract with the local Post Offices to do repairs to these little creatures, body & drive train. We had plenty of spare parts, because if one was “Totaled” it was sent over and put in the bone yard out back of Dad’s body shop, we paid a fee for the vehicle as a disposal fee, which meant we could use any usable parts, but could not built a complete vehicle out of them. Well after they stopped using this type of unit, and started using the newer style, we were allowed to do with what we wanted with the remaining parts. So I and my buddy built two of them and ran them all over up at St Joe State Park on the sand flats. Even being 2 wheel drive we had trouble hanging one of them up, and believe me we tried 1000’s of time.

    The one in the ad picture appears to have the sorting tray missing which would have been mounted on the left side, it was just a flat tray with edge that they could lay the route or street boxes on, and there would have been a bigger double stack in the back that would reach across the entire back which was to put the rest of the mail and packages. Those things were tough little rides, and rode like a brick with wheels.

    This one pictured is my buddy Randy’s.

  20. gyates

    My Dad retired from the Postal Service a few years back. He drove these DJ’s for years. He said by the time they were done with them the transmissions were shot. He also said over-heating was not an uncommon occurrence in these.

    • Metoo

      Well, I suppose stopping at a mailbox every fifty feet or so will be hard on a tranny.

  21. Paul Yeager

    As many have said here it takes some adjustment but is not very difficult to master driving from the right side. My wife delivers mail from her own right hand drive. It is however more difficult (odd) to ride in the passenger seat of the right hand drive.

  22. graham line

    I drove these for two years while working first for the US Post Office and then the Postal Service. We had the 4-cyl. at that time and you really, really don’t need to worry about passing anything.
    The essence of the driver training (a 16mm film) was to keep a lot of space open around you, and look straight down the center of the road. RHD wasn’t difficult.
    They were tinny, noisy and a lot of fun. Do not expect the transmission to stay in gear, the sliding door catch to work, or the parking brake to hold.
    Can’t imagine the 6 cyl. AMC engine was any improvement, but parts would be easier to get.

  23. Brian

    A buddy of mine used an old postal jeep for his food truck biz here in Chicago (“The Schnitzel King”) a few years back. He had a rotating crown on top and warmers in the back for the sandwiches.

  24. jackthemailman

    Run! Run far! Run fast! You do NOT want one of these pieces of junk. $2000 for $200 of scrap metal? No way! The ONLY thing in their favor is they are really easy to parallel park … the only thing. They’re uncomfortable; they’re cold in the winter; they’re hot in the summer; they have NO traction because they’re so light. No. Nononononono!

  25. Rally Ace

    Don’t even think about creating a rat rod out of this. The owner of the one we have all seen many times is a very good friend. He was served a cease and desist order by the USPS. He got the paperwork about a week after he sold it.

  26. duaney Member

    Not mentioned in all the comments is how easily these roll. I have two in my junk yard, both rolled and are now totaled.

  27. chad

    like BTS sez: don’t drive RHD cars in LlaneLocales
    nor
    LHD vehicles in RlaneCountries
    8^0

  28. Steve M

    I had one when I was a teenager, that thing would go ANYWHERE even with no 4 wheel drive, I had mine fixed up nice with carpet and seats from a subaru xt6. I was into CBs back then and had a good size linear in it, my handle was “mailman” It was one cool ride. It had a 4cyl of some unknown make with a Ford Starter, and Chrysler transmission…AMC would cobble whatever they could together to get it down the road

  29. JD Barrett

    I drove one as a teen. Remember taking my brothers to bus stop in Winter with both doors open because had no heat. Hauled a fully assembled 65 Chevy Straight Six in it thru couple counties once with no problems what so ever. Very simple,easy, & fun to drive. Thru rain,sleet,snow, or hail…. The mail must ALWAYS prevail?! STILL to THIS day sum STILL call me the mailman. Also almost rolled it on bypass rounding curve @ 50mph, came up on 2 wheels & kept on truckin. All Jeep’s are unstoppable?!

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