Jeep is a brand that has long been in the industry and has a classic line of vehicles that most enthusiasts and collectors still highly appreciate. Their J-Series, formerly known as Gladiator, is among the most popular up to this day even if the brand no longer manufactures it. Specifically, the Jeep J10 model maintains a good reputation, as evidenced by the number of individuals purchasing and selling second-hand units.
So, is a used Jeep J10 still reliable and safe? As similar to any other second-hand unit, the J10 will not be perfect. It might require new leather seat covers and paint and other minor repairs, but can still perform well on- and off-road due to its unaltered interior and exterior quality.
Whether you want to purchase a J10 as a daily ride, part of your collection, off-road adventure companion, or carrier of your outdoor adventure essentials, such as a tent or your teenager’s dirt bike, you must have an idea of what it can offer. What’s under the hood? How durable, comfortable, and safe is it? Knowing its essential features or specs will give you all the answers, and that is what this review is all about.
What Is a Jeep J10?
In 1974, AMC (American Motors Corporation) manufactured the J-10 pickup truck as part of their Jeep J-Series. Throughout the years of its production, it was available in different trims. That includes the Jeep J10 Honcho, 10-4, and Golden Eagle.
The trim packages have a body design similar to the brand’s Cherokee and Wagoneer. Each pickup truck has also been offered with either a classic step-side or slab-sided body.
Compared to the unit it replaced, the J10 line has better front axles and improved disc brakes. It also has sturdier frame cross members, clutch linkage, and six-stud wheels.
Other parts that made it better than the Gladiator and older J-Series model are its wider but lighter and easier-to-open tailgate, double-walled side panels, and improved instrument panel loaded with safety cushioning and clear gauges.
Overview of Important Features
Being available in different year models, though, you won’t expect a 1975 J10 to be completely similar to a 1983 unit. The upgrades were done mostly to meet the changing needs of users and requirements of the environment, government, and approving bodies. Of course, each trim package also has various features to offer that the others don’t.
- Engine – From 1972 to 1988, the manufacturer incorporated a 285Nm (210 lb-ft), 112HP 4.2L six-cylinder engine in their units. There were also V8 options, such as the 332Nm (245 lb-ft), 175HP 5.9L, the 400Nm (295 lb-ft), 195HP 5.9L, and 434Nm (320 lb-ft), 225HP 6.6L (401 cu in) engines.
- Wheel Drive System – In 1974, the manufacturer incorporated the Quadra-Trac 4WD system in their trucks, including the J10 Jeep. It allowed each of the wheels to work at different speeds. It also has a third slip differential to distribute power automatically between the rear and front wheel axles.
Then in 1977, the part-time manual Dana 4WD system was included. Comes 1983, the full-time 4WD Selec-Trac system with a two-speed transfer case replaced the Qudra-Tac. This system, however, was optional for the J10 model.
- Other Jeep J10 Specs – Compared to older J-Series models, the 1976 models have greater stability and wide-spaced rear springs because of their newer frames with splayed rails. They also function with lesser noise and vibration thanks to their upgraded body hold-down mounts. Other noticeable differences between newer and older models are stronger multi-leaf shock absorbers and springs, cross-members, and a windshield washer.
1977 was also one of the years were most changes were made to the brand’s pickup trucks. Some of the most important ones were the payload rating increasing from 6,500 to 6,800 pounds and the boosted power of the 4.2L engine. A year after, the legroom was increased to two inches for better driver and passenger comfort.
Then in 1981, wherein fuel economy and better comfort were of utmost importance, the standard engine and grilles were made lighter. Low-drag brakes, a front air dam, and a power steering wheel were also incorporated. Lastly, the brand started introducing lowered J10 units.
The Different Trim Packages
Although the three J10 trims have similar features, inside and outside, there are minor differences that set each one apart from the rest.
What Is a 10-4?
The 10-4 is one of the Jeep J10 truck trim packages manufactured between 1974 and 1983 that was offered with the option to install a CB radio. Its 1978 model is different from the rest since it comes in several detailing and color options.
What Is a Jeep J10 Honcho?
In the middle of the 10-4 trim production, the brand introduced the Honcho in 1976, which was a bit more expensive. It is the truck counterpart of the Cherokee Chief available in either a Townside or Sportside step-bed.
This trim has wide wheels and off-road-ready tires, gold-striped fenders, bedside, and tailgate, a blue, sporty type steering wheel, a chrome-type front bumper, and Levi’s denim interior.
What Is a Golden Eagle?
Between 1977 and 1983, the company produced the third trim package known as the Golden Eagle, which was the most expensive among the three. It has excellent driving lamps, a grille guard, gold accent stripes, pickup bed roll bar, eagle hood decal, Levi’s denim seats, and eight inches wheels.
How Many J10 Jeeps Were Made?
Similar to any manufacturer and car, as years passed, technology improved, and customers had other needs and requirements, the production of Jeep J-10 halted to give way to newer models and series.
Approximately, the manufacturer produced a total of 45,805 units and some of which you can still see on the road. They are either passed on from an older family member to a younger one or bought from a previous owner or authorized second-hand dealer.
That goes to show that the J10 is a reliable and durable vehicle, so purchasing one might be a good investment, especially if you plan to save from high car mortgages and down payments. What is more exciting is that if you love to keep your hands “greasy”, upgrading the J10 without taking away its vintage style is possible.
Suggested Jeep J10 Parts to Upgrade
Changing car parts with better and technologically advanced models isn’t exclusive for old cars. Even newer vehicle models are modified, depending on the owner’s wants and lifestyle. For classic or vintage models, though, these upgrades get done to match current needs and trends.
Undoubtedly, there are a lot of J10 parts that you can upgrade, especially since you can already find a lot of products suited for several car models. However, according to long-term J10 owners, the following are those that you can upgrade easily:
Stereo and Speakers
One of the highly recommended upgrades for a J10 is to replace its stereo and speakers, especially since music tapes have long been obsolete. You can choose between a classic yet better stereo, a unit with AM/FM radio and play CDs, and a more modern Bluetooth-enabled media player (view on Amazon). The latter, though, would require professional advice before you consider installing it. Likewise, it would be best that a professional install it for you.
For speaker upgrades, it would be best to get a universal set of speakers from a well-known brand (view on Amazon). Installing speakers will not be rocket science if you have basic electronic skills.
Here is a YouTube video you can rely upon in case you plan to install the speakers yourself:
Since your Jeep J10 truck was manufactured around the ‘70s or ‘80s, it is worth changing the original ignition with newer models for convenient and smooth driving. Find an ignition set made by AMC to ensure compatibility.
What Is the Difference Between a Jeep J10 and J20?
The Jeep J-20 is another pickup in the J-Series worth considering if you plan to purchase a second-hand, classic vehicle. Considered as J10’s sibling, some features and upgrades, such as the Selec-Trac, are similar. Of course, there are minor differences that you should make a note of when choosing between the two.
One of the most notable differences between the two is their engine variety. The Jeep J-10 has a range of engine types, but for J20, there were only has two choices.
First is the standard 5.9L (360 cu in) V8 engine type with either a four-speed MT or a three-speed AT gearbox. Second is the 6.6L (401 cu in) engine, which was an upgrade option provided to the customers.
The 5.9L engine boasts 175HP and 285 foot-pound torque thanks to its two-barrel carburetor, while the 6.6L engine generates 195HP and 295 foot-pound torque via its four-barrel carburetor.
Other Notable Differences
For easier comparison, here is a list of the other key differences between the two J-Series models:
|Fuel Tank Capacity||18 Gallons (68 Liters)||Standard: 19 Gallons (71 Liters)|
Option: 20 Gallons (75 Liters)
|Wheelbase (Inches)||119||Short Bed: 119|
Long Bed: 131
|Cargo (Cubic Feet)||38.6||Short Bed: 38.6|
|Turning Diameter (Feet)||41.9||45.4|
|Clutch Area (Inches)||Standard: 10.5|
|Standard Brakes (Inches)||11×2 Manual Drum||12.5 Power Disc|
|Axle Ratios||Standard: 3.54|
|GWR F/R Axle (Kilograms)||3200/3200||3500/4090-5500|
Although the start of the manufacture of the two models was in the same year, from the above table, you can see that some Jeep J10 parts are inferior to J20. Similarly, with the J20, you can have a bigger-bed truck, making it convenient for people who love to haul lots of things or sleep on their truck when camping by simply placing a comfortable backpacker sleeping bag.
Those minor differences are, of course, expected from the model number itself. With 20 being higher than 10, the manufacturer made some improvements, which is common to most vehicle brands.
J10 Jeep Review Wrap Up
Overall, the list of Jeep J10 specs signifies that the model has a well-thought-off design, great durability, and enhanced reliability. As such, purchasing and upgrading a pre-owned J10 unit is worth considering.
It would be best to opt for those manufactured in the ‘80s since they have better electronics and interior parts. That is especially true if you will use your J10 for occasional off-road adventures.
Although the upgrades require little mechanical and electrical knowledge and skills, if you’re in doubt, it is always best to let an auto-mechanic work on them.
As a last piece of advice, don’t forget to have a weather-resistant, compact, lockable storage box (view on Amazon) to keep your necessary emergency tools without occupying too much truck bed space. Remember, J10 is an older model pickup, so its size is comparable to compact pickup trucks today, instead of full-size ones.