By on January 30, 2017

1972 Jeep J-4000 pickup in Denver wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Most ’60s and ’70s Detroit cars I see in big pull-yer-own-parts wrecking yards show signs of having spent a decade or more sitting in a yard or driveway. This is not the case with pickups, because just about any pickup that can be made to work at not-too-great expense will be kept on the road. A 45-year-old long-wheelbase Jeep pickup with a snowplow will earn its keep pushing the white stuff around until something really expensive fails.

Here is such a truck, spotted in a Denver yard.

1972 Jeep J-4000 pickup in Denver wrecking yard, plowing sign - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The lack of an area code on the phone number and BIG SKY COUNTRY mudflaps indicate that this truck may have been a recent Colorado transplant from single-area-code Montana.

1972 Jeep J-4000 pickup in Denver wrecking yard, snowplow safety sticker - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The plow hardware is gone, no doubt transferred to a youthful Dodge or GMC from the mid-80s.

1972 Jeep J-4000 pickup in Denver wrecking yard, body filler - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

There’s Bondo. There’s rust. There’s a driver’s door from a different-colored truck. How many miles are on this thing? A half-million?

1972 Jeep J-4000 pickup in Denver wrecking yard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The base engine in the ’72 Jeep pickup was the American Motors 258-cubic-inch straight six, an engine family used in Jeeps well into the current century. This one has the optional AMC V8, either a 304 or a 360 (and if you can tell the two apart from this photograph, let us know). You can only wring 175 horses from the 360, but that was plenty for plowing with the no-doubt-crazy-short gearing in this truck.

AMC found a particularly gruff-sounding hired voice for this in-house 1973 Jeep truck ad. Coming on stronger and tougher than ever!

[Images: © 2017 Murilee Martin]

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19 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1972 Jeep J-4000, Used-Up Snowplow Edition...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    “Big, roomy cab-over units”

    I have all the hate for those one would expect from someone who grew up with them.

    They turned the old man’s trucks into wobbly, wonky toys.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    My 92-year old FIL still has one of these, going strong, plowing a doozy of a driveway in Montana.

    The chains never come off, and it doesn’t go anywhere else but the LONG driveway, but it still starts right up.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Years of tender loving care really show.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    The last ride for this truck was a slipping transmission or a failed Colorado front range emissions test.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    The mudflaps confirm the Montana transplantation.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Was there a legal requirement at some point for folks in Montana and Wyoming to have mudflaps declaring their allegiance to their state?

      Even here in NM it isn’t uncommon to stumble across an old (late 1970s through early 1990s) pickup truck proudly wearing those mudflaps even though it has been long converted over to New Mexico plates.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Remember a country band during the 1980s that played locally called the Montana Mudflaps.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    A regular cab, manual everything, 175hp pick-up? Who would ever buy one of those things?

    It just wouldn’t look ‘tough enough’ when I drive it to Lowe’s to pick up our new light fixtures.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Good looking truck. Reminds me of one of my favorite Stompers toys I had as a child.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ? I thought these had the wretched OHC i6 as the basic engine ? .
    .
    I see this one was well scavenged, that’s good to see .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The Jeep Tornado OHC was only available in these Gladiators J-Series until 1964 model year. Nice motor quite advanced for the era. After that it was the AMC 232 and 258-6.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        I remember very few of those OHC engines passing 60,000 miles before failure .
        .
        When I worked for Jeep in the 70’s the Mechanics still hated them .
        .
        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          The last few years of production, the engine was pawned off to military-orders only, on the Jeep M715 Buck-and-a-Quarter. Even there, the engines were so miserable that Jeep lost the contract in favor of Dodge a few years later. The M715s were quickly surped out, sold to highway departments and rural fire agencies, and with pre-1969 units, to private owners.

          Almost all of them had the engines replaced with SBCs

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        It was nice in design, and very fuel-efficient.

        It was done to a price – Kaiser-Jeep in those years was a very, very small company and reeling with the cost of the new J-Series vehicles the engine was intended for.

        The head was aluminum; the block was iron and designed as a flathead. Expansion and other issues caused early failures…more negative will for a struggling company that could ill afford it.

        The AMC engine was not so gee-whiz but, designed in 1964, was fully current and basically a reverse-engineered Chevrolet Six. Nothing stood out about it, except its incredibly-long production life.

        It was phased out in 2006, as the much-desired Jeep engine option.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      The old Kaiser Tornado OHC, a Continental Engine Company flathead six with an OHC head grafted on…was the first of the Kaiser-Jeep empire to disappear to Argentina. Those disappeared when Kaiser-Jeep struck a sort of coup, getting a deal for AMC engines – and tightening associations between the two. AMC OHV sixes and the 327 V-8 went into Jeeps…only supplanted four years later, briefly, by Buick 350s and the deal that sold Kaiser the Buick V6.

      My theory was, Henry Kaiser, and his son, Edgar, still wanted to break into Detroit. They failed with Kaiser-Frazer; they weren’t able to save Willys’ auto business when they bought Willys-Overland…but there was a full-market auto company, and foundering. Dreams die hard.

      And the Kaisers were purchasing up AMC stock. That was later known when, after Henry’s death in 1967, the Kaiser empire had to be taken apart and sold to pay inheritance taxes.

      And that’s what cut the dream short. Henry went the way of all flesh just about the time the Kaisers had gotten a significant share of AMC. It all had to go, including Kaiser-Jeep…which the Kaiser estate got rid of by USING its AMC stock to pressure AMC to buy Kaiser-Jeep.

      The deal was done and the Kaiser family slowly sold AMC stock on the open market. But…the one silver lining out of all that was that it did replace the motly assortment of F-head and Mickey-Mouse engines with comparably-reliable AMC units, finally focusing on the now-legandary Rambler Six, later the Jeep 4.0

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Growing up, my best friend’s dad had a 1964 Jeep pickup. It had a camper shell that we rode many miles in. We thought it was fun back then. That body style didn’t change for over a decade. His truck had an odd 6 cyl engine made by Kaiser, I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Engine in question was the Tornado 250 Six. “Road tests of the new Jeep Wagoneer by Car Life magazine described the OHC six as ‘commendably smooth and quiet.\'”

      Besides the Gladiator and Wagoneer, the six was also used in some Industrias Kaiser Argentina and Renault Argentina vehicles, most notably the IKA Torino.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    The promo film talked of turning “suspects” into buyers. LOL!


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