By on August 16, 2013

12 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome say the huge US Postal Service contract to buy Jeep DJs saved AMC (well, postponed AMC’s final downward spiral by a decade or so), and everyone will agree that vast quantities of USPS-surplus Mail Jeeps gave cheapskate Americans low-cost steel boxes to drive for the last few decades. These things must have been extremely popular in Colorado, because I see them all the time in Denver-area wrecking yards; in this series, we’ve had this Chevy-powered ’68, this Audi-powered ’79, this AMC six-powered ’72, this GM Iron Duke-powered ’82, and now today’s AMC-powered ’71.
07 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere wasn’t much to go wrong with these things, which were rear-wheel-drive automatics with right-hand drive and enough bodywork to keep most of the rain off the mail.
01 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDid AM General use Dymo embossing label-makers for DJ-5 controls? Just about every one I’ve seen has these.
08 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old 232-cubic-inch AMC L6 got the job done.

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35 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1971 AM General DJ-5B Mail Jeep...”


  • avatar
    Cubista

    I have always and will always love these things. I actually wanted one when I was in high school. Sliding doors and RHD FTW.

  • avatar
    Defender90

    Wow what a nice simple no frills bit of transport. Would that ex Royal Mail vans were as cool. Come to think of it it’s RHD – why weren’t these surplus ones sold to UK and Ireland?
    Oh yeah, 6 cylinder petrol and an auto box.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      These were pretty specialized for their purpose. They were rarely seen at highway speeds and they did not coddle postal workers. They were very maneuverable at speeds appropriate for accessing mailboxes and they were tough enough to deal with curbs and rural routes. Back when they were auctioned off to bargain hunters, it was pretty rare to see one being used as a daily driver. Mostly they sat in driveways, often in pairs.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I was hoping that oil filter might be orange so I could come up with a plausible story on why that is sitting there.

    Paul was the next domestic terrorist…ahhh, I got nothin’.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Feeling any inspiration for this heap, CS?

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      We used those orange filters on our 1971 LTD for close to 30 years and the original engine had 225K miles on it when we sold the car. They’re not my first choice today, but I don’t ascribe terrible mechanical woes to them either.

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        Let’s pretend I don’t have anecdotal, and first-hand evidence of failure of the orange cans of death. They are the most shoddily constructed oil filter you can buy, peddled by perceived NASCAR lineage, and PR spin as the absolute best. I am waiting, salivating at a chance shot by Murilee’s camera. Then you will see my full fury brought to bear.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          They also seem to be the oil filter of choice on Columbo V12s. No, I don’t know why.

          http://atxcarpics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/1964-Ferrari-Lusso-in-Austin-TX-Colombo-V12.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I, too, used the “orange can of death” in all my cars because I was told they were good filters by non other than CR. I have never experienced any oil related problems, and a few cars went well over 200K. All were runners when we parted company….

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Funny as I browsed the pics I thought, yeah Crabspirits is gonna have a hard time with a story on this one.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Paul really was the next domestic terrorist. He lived in a ramshackle cabin, outside Helena, Montana, near Blue Cloud Creek, off highway 12. The USPS Jeep was picked up in a government auction for $500. It had been stripped of official postal markings, but it still passed as an official mail carrier vehicle, something Paul found quite useful in delivering his, um, packages.

    It’s not that Paul had wild political beliefs, it’s just that he hated politicians. And judges. And lawyers. All of ‘em. Every single one. Five years he spent in the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. Five. Phuc*ing. Years. And someone was gonna pay.

    …..

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I often hear the story of how my grandfather bought one of these in the 80’s, my mom was a child at the time. He got it for $200. Having no seats in the back, the 2 kids sat on milk crates, it had a top speed of 40 mph, the back door latch was broken so they held it on place with a rock and a rope. She is still mad at him for buying it. It was replaced rather quickly with a crappy Ford Granada and a really crappy Citation- based Olds Omega.

  • avatar
    High-brid

    Spent many an hour in these in my time as a mailman (in Denver, coincidentally). They seemed reliable and would start in cold weather, with a little patience. Dicey over ice and snow, of course.

    The right-hand drive is intended, of course, to allow delivery to curbside boxes without alighting. But in most of the subdivisions where this might have been practical, doing so required driving on the sidewalk (which, because homebuilders are cheap, was integral with the curb) and that was ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN except everyone did it anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Any idea why a 4×4 version was never manufactured? Even if it cost the USPS a few hundred extra bucks per Jeep it seems like a no-brainer for snowy climates like Denver.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m guessing cost, both acquisition and operating. They would have used more fuel, had more wear parts and more failure points. My own experience around US branded 4x4s of the ’70s and ’80s was that the transfer cases were problematic. PJ O’Rourke wrote in “High-Speed Performance Characteristics of Pickup Trucks,” that “The four-wheel-drive feature is either operated by a lever which fails to put the truck in 4WD or by a lever which fails to take it out.” That rings true for me, and I’ll add that at least levers gave some mechanical feedback of their failure, while my friend’s Wagoneer’s toggle switch non-operated front axle engagement’s duplicity was only revealed once we were stuck.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Is that a good old fashioned redneck camo job Ford truck next to the Jeep?

    Gotta love those.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What’s the grey metal bit on the lower corner part of the windshield?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Neat little trucklets , I too wanted one back in the 1970’s but then they were well over $1,500 used from the U.S.P.S. and a new VW Beetle was only $1,985 , you could buy a really nice truck then for $350 .

    The thing in the windshield is the wiper motor .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Jimal

    This is on my list of “Weird Card I’d Love to Have, But Can’t Because I’m a Married Adult With Kids”.

    I can only cash in my card for one car on that that list, and nothing I can think of will knock off an early Vega.

  • avatar
    April

    Two seats?

    Must be the super fancy deluxe model.

    :D

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Always though if I decided to take up the city life, that one of these would be my main mode of transportation. I really couldn’t think of a better car to fit the job.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I remember these delivering mail to my parents house and then a few that were repainted and used second hand. Good solid vehicles that were easy to work on and kept going.

  • avatar
    Garak

    I’d love to have that as a mail truck instead of the Volkswagens I’m stuck with. Even that scrapyard specimen is most likely more reliable than them.

  • avatar

    Actually just bougt one of these just a little bit ago. It was really cool to have it come across! Always wanted one! http://www.junkcarcashout.com/


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