The arrival of the 1972 and 1973 Jeep Commandos bought many changes to the company, including major restyling via the new owner. Continue reading to learn more about the changes that occurred in 1972 and 1973.
The 1972 Commandos were substantially revised. For one thing, it was decided to use AMC engines in all Jeep products. But to make the 232-cubic inch, 100-horse straight six fit into the Commando's engine bay required an increase in wheel-base, to 104 inches.
Concurrently, Jim Anger's restyled front end was introduced, and although it didn't have the classic slotted Jeep grille and separate front fenders, it was a clever facelift that gave the Commando a new lease on life. Featured was a longer, bluffer snout housing a full-width eggcrate grille that incorporated the headlights. The overall look was more formal, more family oriented, less hair shirt and jungle-buster. Like it or not (and some didn't), this was where the market was headed, and Anger's facelift was right for the times.
AMC engineers tore into the veteran chassis, enhancing it with bigger brakes, a stronger front axle, and sturdier front suspension. Two new optional engines were the 258-cubic inch, 110-horsepower six, like the 232 a cast-iron, seven-main-bearing workhorse, and, for the first time in a Commando, a V-8 option: AMC's 304-cubic inch, 150-horsepower job (all 1972-1973 horsepower ratings were net, not gross).
The lineup was simplified, with offerings limited to Pick-Up, Roadster, and Station Wagon. The "Jeepster" name was dropped as the vehicles were called simply "Jeep Commando." The series was now the C-104 in reference to its longer wheelbase. After three years of sinking sales, output of the restyled Commandos increased 35 percent, aided by a swelling four-wheel-drive market.
There were few changes for 1973. Axle joints were strengthened and tires were upgraded, but the market had moved in the direction of the larger Blazer-type vehicles, so it was time for Jeep to prepare a new product.
The Blazer dominated the sport/utility market, making it obvious that Americans wanted larger-size four-wheelers. Thus, after 77,573 had been produced -- an average of just 11,000 per year -- the 1973 Commando came to the end of the line. It would soon be replaced by the new Cherokee, a two-door version of the larger Wagoneer that was, as Jeep ads exclaimed, "A Jeep and a Half!"
Product Planner Jim Alexander adds a postscript: "The CJ-7 Jeep that came out in 1976 really replaced the Commando. It had a longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 [94 inches], could be had with automatic transmission and fiberglass hardtop, yet was still a capable off-roader. We went for the volume market with Cherokee, but still could offer the CJ-7 for the traditionalists."