1968 Jeepster Convertible / Model History, Specifications, More

The vehicle featured in this article is a terrific looking 1968 Jeepster Convertible. The Jeepster can be an off road vehicle but it also is truly a street vehicle. What you had here was a vehicle that could be used off road with carpeting, seating for four and air conditioning. Something you wouldn't see in off roaders at the time although it didn't take long for competitors to come up with similarly appointed off road vehicles.

1968 jeepster specifications

1968 Jeepster from Kaiser-Jeep

For the 1968 model year there were three Jeepster models available. These were the Jeepster Hurricane Convertible with a 134 cubic inch four cylinder engine delivering 75 HP. The Jeepster Dauntless Convertible V-6 with 160 HP and the Jeepster Dauntless Convertible V-6 with 160 HP and with a three speed automatic.

Jeepster From the Jeep

One of the most versatile and long lasting automotive brands that has survived the decades, and continues to be very popular, is the Jeep. The Jeep brand itself had it's start around 1940 as one of the most popular US military vehicles ever built. The Jeep brand has changed ownership several times over the decades, changed designs many times as well, and continues to be one of America's top selling brands.

The term "Jeep" was used to describe The Jeep MB or Willys MB. As is the case with some other car nameplates, the term "jeep" has a few different versions as to how it was arrived at. The first version is that army mechanics at one time used the term "Jeep" to describe any new untested vehicle.

1968 jeepster

The off road Jeepster

It was after the war that Willys-Overland Motor Company began building the new Jeep civilian model which they named the Jeep CJ. The company also came out in 1950 with their new Jeep military version which was called the M38. The new M38 was designed off the 1949 civilian jeep. With a reputation of building military vehicles during World War Two, it's no surprise that the Jeep name had car buyers thinking of ruggedness and durability.

Willys-Overland, Kaiser-Jeep and American Motors Built the Jeepster

Willys-Overland produced the Jeepster from 1948 through 1950. During those three model years 19,100 Jeepsters were built. The original Jeepsters were positioned to fill the gap between the post war Jeep CJ and the one ton family wagon. They were designed by well known industrial designer Brooks Stevens. The company was said to have failed to market the Jeepster effectively including little advertising and which led to the production stop after the 1950 model.

The Jeepster name came back in 1967 being produced by Kaiser-Jeep which had taken  over Willys-Overland back in 1953. American Motors took over Kaiser-Jeep in 1970.

1968 Jeepster Specifications / Kaiser-Jeep

Base models came with a 75-horsepower F-Head 134 cubic inch four-cylinder engine. This wasn’t a lot of power, but neither was it unusually low for this model segment, and the Jeepster wasn’t considered heavy. For those willing to spend a bit more, there was the 155-horsepower, 225 cubic-inch Dauntless V-6 brought over from Buick.

This engine allowed the Jeepster to hit 60 mph in 12.6 seconds and a top speed of 87 mph.

When American Motors began Jeepster production in 1972 all engines were Inline Six Cylinders.

off road jeepster vehicles

The outside mounted spare tire differentiates the model from the Commando

Gearbox was a three speed manual.

Leaf springs comprised the front and rear suspension.

Overall length was 175.3 inches, width was 65.2 inches with a wheelbase of 101.0 inches. Curb weight was 2,835 lbs.

You may enjoy the additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below...

 

1950 Willys Station Wagon

The 1941 Willys Americar

The Willys MB

Reference material and good reading about the Jeep and Jeepster includes...The Story of Jeep..1st Edition by Patrick R. Foster.....Jeepster and Commando..Road Test Limited Edition by Brooklands.

kaiser Jeepster

Jeepster dash

Jeepster Collector Cars

The Jeepster has been a very popular vehicle and collector values for the earlier models are strong. As an example, restored 1950 Willys Jeepsters are currently in the $30,000 plus price range. Interestingly enough, you might find prices a bit higher on the later model Jeepsters in the same restored condition. The Jeepster model itself is considered a true piece of automotive history and this should go a long way in keeping it's popularity high.

Most of the Jeepsters produced were Commando models and the non Commando Jeepster more luxurious model is identified with the spare tire mounted on the rear outside the vehicle. Commando models had the spare tire inside. The non-Commando models are indeed much more rarer.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)

The 1967 VW Beetle / Photos, Specs, History

The car featured in this article is a beautiful 1967 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. I think most people would agree that the VW Beetle is a true legendary automobile and is a increasingly popular collector car.

1967 volkswagen beetle type 1

1967 Volkswagen Beetle

Germany had built new highways (autobahns) during the 1930's and the VW Beetle was inspired by it's then leader Adolph Hitler.

Hitler wanted an affordable car for the masses who could then take advantage of the country's new autobahn systems. The first VW's are referred to as a VW Bug and a Volkswagen Type 1. They are also called the "People's Car"

The VW Type 1's

The Volkswagen Beetle's design is an interesting story. In the 1920s Joseph Ganz, a motor sport magazine editor, had already made a similar design for a car that was smaller and more affordable than automobiles of that day. Automobile manufacturers showed little interest, but two motorcycle manufacturers were interested. A prototype of the Ganz designed car was built in 1929. The car was called a "Standard Superior". Three other prototypes were built in 1931, 1933 and 1934. Take a look at the 1934 prototype and you're just about looking at the VW Type 1.

vw type 1

The VW TYpe 1 Beetle

As it turned out, Adolph Hitler arrested Ganz in 1933 for trumped up charges and after the arrest Ganz's designs and design specifications were confiscated by the Nazis. Joseph Ganz ended up fleeing Germany in 1934 at about the same time that Hitler contracted with Porsche.

The design for the Volkswagen Type 1 was begun in 1934 by Ferdinand Porsche and his team who were contracted for the project by Hitler. The design wasn't completed until about three years later. The cars were tested considerably. In 150,000 kilometers of test drives, the Type 1 demonstrated that it could easily maintain a speed of 100 kilometers per hour on the Autobahn. In mountain testing the VW drove pass larger automobiles. In essence, the VW Type 1 has astounding test results.

It was said that Hitler made the following comments after Ferdinand Porsche completed his design.....“Over the past four years, and with continual improvements, we have developed the Volkswagen, which we are convinced not only can be sold at the price we want, but also can be manufactured in ways that use a minimum of workers to produce the maximum amount. The model that has resulted from years of work by Dr. Porsche will undergo testing this year. It will enable millions of new customers with limited incomes to afford a car. We owe the best cars in the world to our directors, engineers, craftsmen, workers, and salesmen. Today, I am convinced that in a short time we will also build the least expensive cars.”

Because the Type 1 VW went into production near the beginning of World War Two in Europe, only a very small number of these pre war Type 1 VW's were produced. Production resumed for the European market in late 1945. 1967 VW Beetle production was reported to be 7,567 vehicles.

From 1938 to 2003 VW produced various models of the Type 1 automobile including the VW Beetle, the VW Thing and the Karmann Ghia. The Karmann Ghia, produced from 1955 to 1974 was known to some in North America as simply a "Ghia". During these years just under a half-million sporty VW Karmann Ghias were built and thousands are still on the road today.

Our Featured 1967 VW

The 1967 VW Beetle featured in this article was built in Wolfsburg Germany. Only 7,000 of these automobiles were produced. The year 1967 was significant for Volkswagen in as much as it was the first year of a 12 volt electrical system. It was the last year of all chrome bumpers with overriders and all steel dashboards. The year 1967 was the last year for bumper mounted backup lights.

67 vw beetle convertible

Front view of the 67 Beetle

Transmissions available for the 67 VW Beetle were a four speed manual, a four speed semi automatic and a three speed semi automatic.

The VW Type 1 Engine

The Volkswagen Type 1 engine was an air cooled box shaped four cylinder design. The largest Type 1 engine VW made was 1600 cc. The Type 1 engine has the cooling fan mounted on the end of the alternator shaft and is belt driven.

 

See additional AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1914 Air Cooled Franklin Series 6 Tourer

The Popular and Small Nash Metropolitan

1959 Porsche 356A Roadster

Reference material for this article and books of interest include.....Hitlers Chariots : Volkswagen-from Nazi's Peoples Car to New Beetle by author Blaine Taylor....Birth of the Beetle : The Development of the Volkswagen by Porsche by author Chris Barber.

vw beetle dashboard

67 VW Beetle dashboard

From 1936 to 2006 many types of air cooled VW engines were manufactured. The smallest engine was 1100 cc that delivered 34 horsepower. That engine was used in VW's from 1945 (at the end of World War Two) to 1953. The engines were updated over the years to eventually a size of 1600 cc in 1966.

In 1971 this engine was updated for a final time that had it delivering 50 horsepower. A muscle car engine it certainly was not but the VW Type 1 was considered very reliable and truly was a fuel efficient power plant.

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline)

 

1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

The Ford "Fairlane" model was named after Henry Ford's Detroit area mansion which was also named "Fairlane".

1958 Ford Skyliner

1958 Ford Skyliner

The 1958 Ford Fairlane was quite a unique automobile, especially like the retractable hardtop version seen here. This Ford Skyliner model had a mechanism that folded the front and rear roof that turned a hardtop into a convertible. When the car was introduced in 1957 it represented the only hardtop convertible in the entire world. Over 20,000 Skyliners were sold in the 1957 model year which represented about four times the number of Ford Sunliners. The Sunliners used the conventional canvas roof. It appears that the novelty of the retractable hardtop was dying down in as much as only between 14,000 and 15,000 were sold during the 1958 model year, a large drop from the previous year. Another factor to consider was that the Ford Skyliner with it's retractable hardtop cost about $400 more than the conventional convertible the Sunliner. There was also the issue of much less trunk space when the Skyliner's roof was retracted.

Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop

Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop

Actually, the idea of having a hardtop automobile with a folding down roof was introduced a few decades earlier in 1934. The 1934 Peugeot 601 had a power-operated retractable metal top designed by Georges Paulin. Peugeot offered the same hardtop convertible in 1935 with the Peugeot 402.

The retractable hardtop mechanism at the Ford Motor Company was designed by a man named Ben Smith who previously worked for General Motors. The question was whether the mechanism would be hydraulic or electric. The electric version was decided on. The designing of this system actually began in the early 1950's with a working scale model built in 1953. After various issues arose with the first scale model another was built in 1954.

An interesting side note is that the retractable hardtop was originally targeted for Ford's Continental brand but was switched to the Ford line. The clay models first built were Continentals and then they were reformed into the Ford Fairlane style. One reason cited for the change from Continental to Ford Fairlane was that the production costs could be spread over more total units with Fairlane than with Continental.

1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner

1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner

Designing and Building the Ford Fairlane Retractable Hardtop

The retractable hardtop also posed another issue. It was obvious that a mechanism could not retract the entire car roof and fold it in one piece. Somewhere along the roof there would need to be a folding hinge. Some of Smith's engineers suggested that the roof fold in the middle. Smith decided on a front flap which was ten inches in length. This front flap would fold itself under the main roof section.

If you stand back and watch the Ford Fairlane Skyliner roof fold back in may seem like a simple process. To the contrary it was a very complicated process that utilized seven electric motors. The motors would obviously have to work in a sequence with relays and individual switches. There was also over 600 feet of wire required.

Ford Fairlane Skyliner Convertible

Ford Fairlane Skyliner Convertible

As mentioned above, sales enthusiasm for the Ford Skyliner peaked at about the same time the car was introduced. Ford designers had the Skyliner roof fold down into the trunk area and the roof itself was smaller than most other hardtops. To be sure, the retractable mechanism, as described above, was a complicated piece of equipment with a lot of moving parts. Things could easily go wrong with the apparatus and that coupled with the fact that a conventional Ford convertible cost about $400 less meant that hardtop convertible sales lessened greatly.

Links to two additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy with this one are the 1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible and the 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible.

58 Ford Fairlane Skyliner Specs

Engine options in 1958 included a 352 cid 300-horsepower V-8 engine. Also Ford offered a 332 cid 265 horsepower version. Also offered was the Cruise-O-Matic transmission in place of the standard manual transmission.

Another interesting option for the 1958 Skyliner buyer was "air suspension". This suspension system included a compressor, pressure tank, airbags, and automatic leveling valves for both the front and rear.

The Ford Skyliner's gas tank was behind the rear passenger seats as opposed to under the trunk. The car's back deck was higher and longer.

The Ford Fairlane Skyliner's overall length was 210.8 inches, it's wheelbase 118.0 inches and it's weight 4,069 lbs.The new 1958 Ford Skyliner sold new for about $3,100 depending on options.

The Ford Skyliner's of the late 1950's were indeed unique cars with some unique ideas built in them. These cars were built during the era when Detroit automakers thought that they could do just about anything, and they did.

(Photos from author's private collection)