A 1976 DJ5. NOT mine - mine is not this nice!
The DJ-5 series Jeeps were made from 1965 thru 1983 (or 1984, depending on your source). They were traditionally Right Hand Drive for postal carriers. Many used the long-running AMC strait-6 engine 3.8L & 4.0L, though earlier models used the contemportary kaiser drivetrains, and the post-1979 used various GM & Crysler 4-cylinders, and even a horrible Audi 4 in 1979 (had a tendency to overheat and blow). They were also only 2 wheel drive, with a strait tube axle in front (like a dana axle with the pumpkin removed). Some like mine even used kingpin front joints! But like all things AMC, or "Any Make Construction", they used parts from a variety of sources, and changed from year to year. So identifying the exact model of your DJ and exactly what replacement parts you need can be tricky. Luckily, there are parts sources that are very helpful in that area. See bottom.
To correct a common misconception: The DJ5 is NOT "just a CJ with a hartop and 2wd." The DJ5 does share many common parts with the contemporary CJ series, but it is unique enough to not be considered a "modified CJ."
Today, a small percentage of the DJ-5's are still in service, and many are still being used as postal delivery vehicles. especially out west. There were a few sources in the 1980's that would acutally rebuild your DJ5 to "like new condition" for continued use. one of these companies used a fiberglass body like a kit car (see photos section)!! There are a few parts sources servicing the DJ's (see below), and most parts are available.
But the DJ is not considered highly desirable for many reasons: They are spartian metal cans with no creature comforts. They are downright squirly to drive, their short wheelbase (81"?) enhances the effect, making driving one a contstant excersize in correction, lest you end up in a ditch. And they are top heavy with the metal roof and doors. A few folks have restored them for nostalgia sake, a few have hotrodded them, and others like me just wanted one to drive.
Why did I get a postal jeep in 2011?
Well, first I am currenly into old and unusual Jeeps. Perhaps because I manufacture just about every plastic part in the current Jeep JK so I am exposed to the culture more than the normal joe. But I like odd and unique cars. And I recall my postman when I was little, Mr. Gabriel, driving his around every day thru my neighborhood. So Nostalgia. And they are really cheap to buy, and our second kid took care of what was left of "disposable income." Cheap, easy, and available.
PLUS, I have had an idea to make a hotrod/ratrod out of a Jeep DJ running gear and frame, and this one might donate to that project someday when I have more time! Crazy, I know. Why use a DJ? Again, odd and unique cars.
I recommend doing Wiki searches on Jeep DJ, American Motors, and Kaiser-Jeep for more info on the DJ5. See additional links at the bottom.
MY 1983 DJ-5L:
Bought it from a guy who was using it as a Michigan football tailgating car. I am sure it got lots of attention. But that had to go, since I am a loyal OSU Buckeyes fan! I stripped all the yellow decorations off, leaving it gray and blue, and the paint is pretty ratty now. Planning on going with a white or silver vinyl sticky stripe down the sides to cover the ugly paint line. But really that is all I plan to do. I am just going to work on the mechanicals and drive it as-is. I bought it for the experience, not as a restoration project.
Upon investigation, I believe my DJ might have been a rebuilt DJ. In the late 70's and 80's, there were several DJ "rebuilders" across the country - shops that would rebuild and refresh your DJ for continued use. There was even one that made all new fiberglass body kits for them! I believe mine to have been rebuilt at some point. It is a parts-bin assembly of about 5 different DJ models! Not to mention some patch panels, refinished and painted frame rails, bondo slapped unceremoniously throughout the body, etc, etc..
1983 DJ-5L chassis and body.
Late-70's 258 4.2L 3.75 L-6 engine
Late-60's B-W M-11 tranny (steel case, separate bellhousing)
1/9/12: had Stan's Garage do the kingpins, both sides. They were shot. They were also not cheap to have done, but they are a real pain to do, and i preferred to have someone else have the fun. Drives better now. My to-do list:
The Hot Rod. I still think it would be cool someday to strip off the entire body, and make some sort of pre-war, Model-A -esque vintage race car "rat rod" thing out of it. Something with a narrow snout, narrow belly-tank racer type body, and tall on the frame. I'd use 100% of the mechanicals as they are, and where they are, now. Maybe bigger steel wheels to add to the effect. Some photos I collected of the idea below the jeep photos.
Some useful links:
parts source: http://www.postaljeep.net/
Owner/project page: http://www.curbsideclassic.com/the-very-many-cars-of-my-life/the-cars-of-a-lifetime-1981-amg-dj5-the-mailman-never-knocks/
Owner/project page: http://www.freelabs.com/~whitis/mailjeep.html
Owner/project page: http://theamcforum.com/forum/1979-dj5-postal-jeep-project_topic25136_page1&SID=b322a458-3174-ba79zc2e-2cf28c22-9f63943e.html
Hotrod DJ5 project: http://www.offroadfabnet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7568
Fiberglass DJ5 Owner: http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3820565/1976-jeep-dj