Junkyard Gem: 1983 AM General postal Jeep DJ-5L

One of the last of the good old mail Jeeps.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
When neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night will stay you from your appointed rounds, you don't need fancy styling or futuristic technology. All you need is a simple steel box with four wheels, one seat (on the right-hand side), a mail-sorting tray, and an engine. The Jeep DJ was that vehicle, and DJs served as workhorses for the United States Postal Service starting in 1955 and — in some rural areas— into our current century. Here's one of the last ones made, found covered with snow in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

Related: Postal truck prototypes spied from Oshkosh and Karsan

When American Motors bought Jeep in 1970, it built and sold DJs via its AM General subsidiary. The DJ-5 was a stripped-down, two-wheel-drive version of the pretty-spartan-to-start-with Jeep CJ, and there wasn't much to go wrong with it. The final year for the DJ-5 was 1984.

During the AMC era, the DJ received an ever-shifting array of engines, depending on what looked like the best deal in Kenosha at a given time. Starting with the Chevrolet Nova straight-four, Jeep DJ engine compartments boasted AMC straight-sixes of 232- and 258-cubic-inch displacements, followed by Audi 2-liter straight-fours (yes, the same engine used by the Porsche 924), then the 2.5-liter GM Iron Duke four, and finally the 2.5-liter AMC straight-four. This DJ-5L has Duke power.

The early DJs had manual transmissions, but all the AM General DJ-5s came with automatics. If you think an Iron Duke powering a Jeep is odd, consider that it's bolted to a Chrysler Torqueflite transmission.

Once the USPS was done with them, cheap DJ-5s flooded the market. This one has had a random junkyard seat swap, but retains the handy mail-sorting tray.

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