The Willys-Overland CJ-3 is a public version of the famous Willys Military Jeep from World War II.
The Willys-Overland CJ-3A was introduced in 1949 and was in production until 1953 when replaced by the CJ-3B. It was powered by Willys' 60 HP L-134 "Go-Devil" 4-cylinder engine, with a T-90 transmission and Dana 18 transfer case, a Dana 25 front axle and Dana 41 or 44 rear axle. It featured a one-piece windshield with a vent as well as wipers at the bottom. The CJ-3A had beefed up suspension (10 leaf) to accommodate the various agricultural implements that were being built for the vehicle. Another difference was a shorter rear wheelwell (the wheelwell from the top front edge to the rear of the body is 32 inches (810 mm) on the 3A compared to 34 inches (860 mm) on the 2A) and moving the drivers seat rearward. A bare-bones Farm Jeep version was available starting in 1951 with a power takeoff. 131,843 CJ-3As were produced before the series ended in 1953. About 550 of the CJ3-A were assembled by Mitsubishi as the J1/J2 in late 1952 and early 1953, exclusively for the Japanese police and forestry agency.
The Willys CJ-3B replaced the CJ-3A in 1953, the same year Willys was sold to Kaiser. Kaiser removed "Overland" from the subcompany name. CJ-3B introduced a higher grille and hood to clear the new Willys Hurricane engine. A four-speed manual transmission became optional in 1963, at the cost of $194. The turning radius was 17 ft. 6 inches. The CJ-3B was produced until 1968 with a total of about 196,000 produced, although the design was licensed to a number of international manufacturers, including Mitsubishi of Japan and Mahindra of India. Mitsubishi's version was built from 1953 until 1998, while Mahindra continues to produce Jeeps based on the Willys CJ-3B today. The M606 was a militarized version of the Jeep CJ-3B.
The Jeep was introduced to the Japanese market as the Jeep J3 in July 1953 after Willys agreed to allow Mitsubishi to market the car themselves. The name was not in reference to "CJ3", but rather denoted the fact that 53 "J1"s (CJ3-A with 6-volt electrics) were built for the Japanese regional forest office and circa 500 "J2"s (CJ3-A with 12-volt electrics) were built for the National Safety Forces. Mitsubishi was to continue production of vehicles derived from the CJ-3B design until August 1998, when tighter emissions and safety standards finally made the Jeep obsolete. In total, they built approximately 200,000 units. Short, medium, and long wheelbases were available, as well as a variety of bodystyles and gasoline as well as diesel engines.
The original J3 was a basic, doorless and roofless version, still with left hand drive even though the Japanese drive on the left. The first right-hand drive versions didn't appear until nearly eight years later (J3R/J11R). The original J3 and its derivatives were equipped with the 2.2 L (2,199 cc) F-head "Hurricane" (called JH4 by Mitsubishi, for Japanese Hurricane 4-cylinder) inline four-cylinder, originally producing 70 PS (51 kW) at 4,000 rpm. In 1955 a slightly longer wheelbase J10 which could seat six was added, and in 1956 the J11 appeared, a two-door "delivery wagon" with a full metal body. This was considerably longer, at 433 cm (170 in) versus 339 cm (133 in) for the J3.
Local production of the JH4 engine commenced in 1955. A locally developed diesel version (KE31) was introduced for the JC3 in 1958, originally with 56 PS (41 kW) at 3,500 rpm but with 61 PS (45 kW) at 3,600 rpm a couple of years later. By 1962, the output of the gasoline JH4 engine had crept up to 76 PS (56 kW). By the time of the introduction of the longer J20 in 1960, a six-seater like the J10 but with a differently configurated (more permanent) front windshield as well as available metal doors, Mitsubishi had also added small diagonal skirts to the leading edge of the Jeep's front fenders. This style was to remain the last change to the sheetmetal up front until the end of Mitsubishi Jeep production in 1998.