Rare Rides: A 1971 Jeepster Commando of the Hurst Variety

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Long before the Wrangler and Cherokee became Jeep’s household names, and even before the Jeep brand existed as we know it today, the company known as Kaiser Jeep produced the Jeepster Commando. And for a few special examples, Hurst made some of its own modifications.

Let’s have a look at a special proto-Cherokee:

In the mid-1960s, the Kaiser Jeep company desired an SUV to compete with existing offerings like the Toyota Land Cruiser and International Scout, as well as Ford’s upcoming Bronco. The company’s new Jeepster Commando (C101) was ready for a 1966 debut, which just so happened to be the same time as the Bronco’s launch. Game on!

Four different versions of the Jeepster were on offer: a convertible, a roadster, a wagon, and a truck. Four-wheel drive was available from the start, and base model power was provided by a 75-horsepower inline-four F4-134 engine which dated back to 1950. Optionally fitted was a 3.2-liter Buick V6, which managed a much more respectable 160 horsepower. Jeepsters delivered power through a standard manual or optional automatic transmission.

Things stayed roughly the same with the Jeepster for a few years, until the Hurst version came along for 1971. All examples featured a white exterior festooned with red and blue stripes, plus a standard roof rack. Better handling was on offer via Goodyear G70 tires, fitted to wider steel wheels. Hurst versions received the requisite Hurst labeling all over the place, as well as a hood-mounted tachometer, while the interior featured a different steering wheel and a special shifter for both manual and automatic transmissions.

The Jeepster Commando lasted in its original iteration until 1971. By then, Kaiser Jeep was owned by American Motors (note AMC badge on tailgate), and the Jeepster was looking old. AMC developed a new model known as the Jeep Commando (C104), which sported a longer 104-inch wheelbase, revised styling, and new engines. After just two years, the C104 version was replaced by the first-generation Cherokee (SJ).

Widely reported as the rarest Jeep vehicle in existence, the estimated number of Jeepster Commando Hursts produced ranges between 100 and 103. Sources also report some Hurst versions were sold as model-year 1970 vehicles, rather than 1971s. Today’s Rare Ride is a 1971 example from late in the run; an indicated number 99 of 103. With the optional V6 and automatic transmission, this one’s very clean and asks $28,000.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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5 of 16 comments
  • Lie2me Lie2me on Sep 05, 2018

    Great find, Corey. I never understood the market for these, it seems the only place I've ever noticed them were carting tourists around some 3rd world all-inclusive resort or driven by guides at some "Safari Land" amusement park

    • See 2 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 05, 2018

      @LectroByte It just seems to me like the other two have a rough and tumble image, and what I've read about these says it's best to keep them on the pavement. Yes these are 4WD.

  • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on Sep 06, 2018

    This is not only a prototype crossover, but one with ridiculous sporting pretensions, like the Jeep Compass Trailhawk with red bucket seats.

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...