“The General”

One day while searching through the for-sale section on Craigslist on a whim I did a quick search for "Jeep" and this bad boy came up posted 1 hour earlier.  I was the first to respond asking to see the jeep based on the description no pictures.  The owners e-mailed me one picture that they had form a long time ago and I had to see it.  When I got there the Jeep was in cherry condition and I had to buy it.  Another person came to look at it and got in a "bidding war" but in the end they sold it to me for the original asking price because they liked the family better and they knew it was going to a good home.

commando
My 1973 C104/SW Jeep Commando the day I bought it

This 1973 Jeep Commando is all original with the exception of the seats and a few modifications.  It has a 258 4.2L in-line Six coupled with the AMC/GM Turbo-400 Automatic transmission.  The transfer case is a Dana20.  It has A D30-NT front axle and a D44-NT rear axle.  In 1972 AMC changed the grille from the traditional 7-slot style used on the earlier Jeepsters to the "Bullnose" style in an apparent effort to copy the Scout and Bronco. This unfortunately was the last year of production for the commando and only 9538 units were manufactured that year with very few registered and on the road today.


bull_nose
A clear short of the not so popular bullnose grille.

With the exception of a couple bad u-joints, WARN Lock-O-Matic hubs, messed up horn button and leaky front wheel cylinders this thing was good to go.  When I got it home I wanted to make it safe and needed to correct some problems to pass inspection.  First up was the bad front brakes.  I replaced the 11" front drums with disc brakes from a 1978 CJ-7.  There is a great writeup on this conversion at Bullnose Central.  When doing this I simply swapped everything from the spindle out off the D30-NT axle I got for free from a friend.  This included the WARN Lock-O-Matic hubs which had damaged clutches in them (and no replacements available).  Contact me if interested in the parts.  They are serviceable if you have good spindle lock nuts that work with them.

The bad idle was corrected with a timing light.  The previous owner thought it was the carburetor but it turns out the timing was off by about 5 degrees.  A simple slight twist of the distributor got her purring like a kitten again.  As for the horn button the previous owner thought it was the actually button that failed and tried repairing the problem there.  In the process they screwed up the horn button quite a bit.  After finding some exploded parts diagrams I was able to put the button back in order.  It turns out the horn relay (a $8 part) needed to be replaced again.

You'll also note that this commando sits a little higher than stock.  That's because it's spring over axle (about 6" of lift) with 31" tires and larger wheels.  Because of it's high center of mass, lack of anti-sway bars and long springs this jeep has quite a bit of body roll and is a bit interesting to drive on the road.

In addition to the stock hard-top (complete with intact headliner) I also have a Bestop soft top.  The hard-top simply unbolts like every other jeep and the soft top snaps on.  A Bestop fold and tumble rear seat are also installed.  I also added some rear seat belts for the kids.

commando_no_top
My 1973 C104/SW Jeep Commando without the top

The jeep has been running very well with the exception of the temp sender needing replacement ($9 part) and the rear-main seal leaking.  I have all the parts to correct the leaky rear-main seal but haven't the time to do it.  I also have a 1978 CJ master cylinder to install which should improve the braking even more.  This master will still be manual but was designed for 11" drums in the rear and Discs in the front.

This may be getting a slight make-over in the near future.  There is a little body work that needs to be done on the passenger rocker and on the tailgate.  Other than that it's in excellent condition.  I was thinking candy-apple metallic green would be nice and keep with the green color.

2005.09.03 - I removed the steel hard top yesterday.  It proved to be a bit of a challenge simply because whoever installed it last used some double sticky weatherstripping under it.  Always use caution when removing a commando top.  They may be made of steel but they flex a heck of a lot more than a fiberglass CJ/YJ/TJ top.  I also installed the Bestop "Tiger" top that I got with the commando.  

Rear seat belts were added utilizing the factory mounting points with new grade 5 bolts.  I also took a wire brush to the pickup bed and removed some surface rust from something that spilled and was allowed to sit for some time.  Etchant primer was sprayed over the bare metal.  I think the carpets will be coming out and the interior floor will be herculined/rhinolined/linex'd when I have a chance.  May as well preserve what is there.

Even though the gasoline is expensive I figured I would take it out in the beautiful weather.  Grace, David, Becky and myself went for a fun ride in the "mando" (as Grace calls it).


commando_topless
The Bestop “Tiger” top was installed and we cruised around all afternoon.

Unfortunately due to time constraints, life and other projects I sold this Jeep.

History


After the purchase of Kaiser for $75 million, American Motors continued to produce the Jeepster Commando model "Kaiser" style, but by 1972 AMC had much more control over the Jeep line. AMC dropped the "Jeepster" from the name and redesigned the front grille. Some call the new grille the "bull nose" grille and it would appear it was an attempt to copy the Scout and Bronco. 1973 Was the final year of production of the Jeepster/Commando line. Only 9538 units were produced in 1973 with very few registered and on the road today. This is indeed a rare vehicle with low production numbers.

The final year of the commando featured a 104" wheelbase - something not seen again until the 80's scramblers came out - and faded quickly. And again in 2004 when the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited came out.