Junkyard Find: 1982 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1982 am general dj 5 mail jeep

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.

You couldn’t get much more spartan than this: a simple body to keep the rain off the mail, a sorting tray instead of a passenger seat, and sliding doors on both sides.

The pushrod Iron Duke engine ruined just about every vehicle it touched, but it’s perfect for the DJ-5. Who cares that it’s noisy and weak? Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night could stay the Iron Duke from the swift completion of its appointed rounds!

This former Fedmobile appears to have spent years, or maybe decades, sitting in a field somewhere, and it still has almost all its USPS gear installed. Perhaps it was bought at auction during the late 1980s and then sat, awaiting the Hell Project upgrades that never came.

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  • SoylentGreen SoylentGreen on Jan 30, 2012

    I used to be a rural carrier. These were before my time, but I think they died because they were too small. We had a few carriers who still used them (most rural carriers drive their own cars), but for most routes they wouldn't have held enough mail. Increasing automation meant more time delivering mail and less time sorting mail, hence bigger routes. I delivered mail in a 92 Saturn, with my right leg on the passenger side, the left left working the gas and brakes, steering with the left hand, and stretching as far as I could to reach the mailboxes. I would have killed for a right hand drive vehicle, but not one of these.

  • GHARB GHARB on Sep 22, 2015

    I have one of these. Probably cleaner and better shape than the one shown in the photos. Any idea of the current value?

  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.
  • Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.