The Jeepster was an automobile originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1948 to 1950.
The Jeepster name was revived in 1966 on a new model, the C-101 Jeepster Commando, and American Motors (AMC) (successor to Willys-Overland) removed the Jeepster name for 1972, ending production after 1973.
The original Willys-Overland Jeepster ("VJ" internally) was produced from 1949 through 1950, although some leftover models were sold under the 1951 model year. After World War II, Jeep trademark owner, Willys, believed that the market for the military-type Jeep would be limited to farmers and foresters, therefore they began producing the "CJ" (or Civilian Jeep) to fill this growing segment as well as producing the new Jeep Wagon in 1946, and then the Jeep Truck in 1947.
Realizing a gap in their product line up, Willys developed the Jeepster to crossover from their "utilitarian" type truck vehicles, to the passenger automobile market. The car was originally only offered with rear-wheel drive, thus limiting its appeal with traditional Jeep customers. While its distinctive boxy styling (created by industrial designer Brooks Stevens) was a hit with critics, it did not catch on with the intended market segment. Sales were also limited by sparse advertising. In the end, 19,132 original VJ Jeepsters were produced (1948 - 10,326; 1949 - 2,960; 1950 - 5,836).
The VJ Jeepster was powered by the 62 horsepower (46 kW) "Go Devil" engine, a 134 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4 also used in the CJ. A 3-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive was used, as were drum brakes all around. The vehicle's front end and single transverse leaf spring suspension, was from the Willys Station Wagon, as was the rear driveline. The flat-topped rear fenders were copied from the Jeep truck line, as were the pair of longitudinal rear leaf springs.
- 1948-1950 - L134 Go Devil I4 — 134.1 CID (2,197 cc)
- 1949-1950 - L148 Lightning I6 —148.5 CID (2,433 cc)
- 1950 - F134 Hurricane I4 —134.2 CID (2,199 cc)
- 1950 - L161 Lightning I6 —161 CID (2,638 cc)
The VJ-2 Jeepster was built on a Willys chassis and began production with a one-model/one-engine offering. Due to poor marketing, high price and weak performance sales were low and few were produced. The following year the VJ-3 was produced.
The VJ-3 Jeepster had very little standard equipment. This time there were two engines offered, changing the Jeepster's designations to VJ-3 4-63 for the four-cylinder and VJ-3 6-63 for the Lightning-equipped six-cylinder. In 1950, there was a redesigned front end and new engines and designations dependent on what part of the year it was. Early 1950s four-cylinder Jeepsters were VJ-3 463, and the six-cylinder Jeepsters were VJ-3 663. The later-year Jeepsters were VJ-473 and VJ-673, respectively. The hood and grille also put the V in VJ in 1950, when the design took on that shape.