As a tyke growing up in South Bend, Indiana, my father and I would often stake out the lots behind the Studebaker factories with hopes of spotting the next generation Avanti or Lark. Too often all we spied were rows of Mercedes-Benz automobiles due to the fact that Studebaker was the U.S. distributor for the German brand up until shortly before the closure of their South Bend operations in 1963.
Yesterday it was announced that Mercedes-Benz was returning to South Bend to build the R-Class crossover at the AM General plant, producer of the military Humvee and the late GM Hummer. Mercedes-Benz once moved their headquarters from South Bend to New Jersey and soon to the South (Atlanta) and now R-Class production is moving from the South (Alabama) to South Bend. Got it? (Read More…)
Forget Panthers: Humvees are the new hotness, as so demonstrated when the United States Army held its first-ever public auction for a surplus of the iconic military vehicle.
We see quite a few AM General DJ-5 mail Jeeps in this series, but what about all the big FJ-series mail trucks built by AMC with help from its Overland-Willys-Kaiser ancestry? For that, I had to venture to Southern California. Most of those 1970s FJ-8s seem to have become more or less sketchy ice cream trucks, and it’s hard to find a creepier Junkyard Find than a dead ice cream truck. (Read More…)
Some 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. (Read More…)
Even though the DJ Jeep was two-wheel-drive, Coloradans must really love them. I see DJ-5 “Mail Jeeps” in Denver-area wrecking yards all the time (for example, this ’82 and this ’72). I’ve mostly stopped photographing them for this series, because how much can anyone say about the steel box on wheels that delivered our mail for much of the 1970s? However, a Jeep with a factory-installed Audi engine is interesting, so here we go. (Read More…)
AMC got a (brief) new lease on life in the early 1980s when the French government, via Renault, invested in the staggering Wisconsin car company. Meanwhile, huge purchases of DJ-5s by the US Postal Service also helped prop up the once-proud automaker. The Postal Jeep was a common sight on American roads (and junkyards) for a decade or so after the USPS phased it out, but its bouncy-box-on-wheels ride and two-wheel-drive configuration doomed most examples to The Crusher. Here’s one that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard last week. (Read More…)