A detailed look back at the Jeep J10

Jeep is a well-known company with a classic line of cars that most enthusiasts and collectors still hold in high esteem. One of the famous Jeep series to ever hit the pickup scene was the J series. Based on the large Jeep SJ platform, the J-series models shared the same body style as the Cherokee and Wagoneer. The series was sold under different brands from 1962 to 1988, first as the J2000 and J3000, then the Gladiator. After the brand dropped the Gladiator moniker in 1971, the range came under the J-10 and J-20 nameplates.

By offering two variants, the J series was available to a wide range of customers. People wanting a J-series model that was shorter and more manageable than the 131-inch J-20 chose the J10, which was only 119 inches long. Besides being smaller, the J10 was more fashionable. Because of its smaller size, it was also easy to maneuver in the city. Like its twin, the J10 had a few upgrades, including large front disc brakes, a new front axle and six-pin wheels. Jeep offered three distinct trim levels for the J-10: Honcho, Golden Eagle, and 10-4 trim.

Throughout its production, the Jeep J10 was the most popular of the J series. To this day, the J10 model continues to enjoy popularity, as evidenced by the amount of people buying and selling used cars. Although the brand discontinued its J-series pickups, the J10 remains a sought-after classic.

We take a closer look at the J-10, looking at its packages, features and how it became an iconic pickup truck.

The Jeep J10 caters to many

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As we mentioned earlier, the J10 came in three trim levels. But despite having comparable features on the interior and exterior, each of the three J10s differed in so many ways.

The 10-4 was the first trim level to ever roll out of assembly. Produced from 1974 to 1983, the 10-4 is one of those trucks that came with the option to equip a CB radio and was. It also stood out in the market because it offered more color options.

The brand released the slightly more expensive Honcho in 1976, just two years after its 10-4 sibling. Compared to the 10-4, however, the Honcho was roughly the equivalent of the Cherokee Chief truck, offering features like a Townside or Sportside step bed. The Honcho stood out for its chrome front bumper, gold-striped fenders, large wheels with off-road tires, a sporty blue steering wheel and a Levi’s denim interior.

The Golden Eagle trim joined the duo in 1977 and was the most expensive of them all, with features like gold accent stripes, a grille guard, cool running lights, an eight-inch wheel, pickup bar, eagle hood decals and Levi’s denim seats.

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The Jeep J10 delivered decent power

1984 jeep j10 engine
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The base engine was the AMC 4.2-liter inline-6, which was available until 1988. The engine generated 112 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. From 1971 to 1972, Jeep pickups had an optional AMC 5.0-liter 210-horsepower V8 engine, which was among the top powertrains except for the 5.9-liter from the same year. Early versions produced 175 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. The later 360 generated 195 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

From 1974 to 1978, the AMC 6.6 liter engine was a viable option. Known for their durability, these powerplants generated an impressive 330 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. In 1977, Jeep added Dana’s manual all-wheel-drive system and heavier axle tubes, a full-time Quadra-Trac, and both automatic and manual transmissions.

The Jeep J10 became more refined over time

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Despite joining the assembly line at different times, all models evolved at the same pace, with later models gaining wider rear springs and more stable frames, thanks to their updated spreader rail frames. With this sturdier construction and improved body mounts, they operated more quietly and with less vibration. Apart from this, the newer trims came with stronger multi-leaf shock absorbers and springs, and a windshield washer, to name a few.

Other significant changes were the increase in payload capacity from 6,500 to 6,800 pounds and the 4.2L engine’s slight power bump. For improved comfort for the driver and passengers, the newer models had two inches more legroom. In 1978, the J-10 provided a more improved and more comfortable ride than its previous models.

The brand then made changes to the basic engine and grille in 1981, making them lighter to increase its performance. That year also brought improved comfort and better fuel efficiency. Also included low drag brakes, a front air dam and a power steering wheel. It wasn’t long before Jeep started lowering the J10 models.

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Jeep J10: Final Thoughts

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From 1974 to 1988, Jeep sold a total of 45,805 units, some of which are still on the road today. They are either bought from an authorized second-hand dealer or a previous owner or passed down from an older family member to a younger one.

The Jeep J10 had a thoughtful design, remarkable durability and improved reliability overall. Even after being around for decades, many of these models still work well, which makes sense when buying a used J10. If you are looking for one of these bad boys, we recommend going with the later models as they are lighter, faster and have more off-road capabilities.

Sources: Jeep, Hagerty

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