New Project Jeep – MAILBOX

This is my “new” 1979 DJ-5G Dispatcher Jeep. I picked it up near the end of May.

Posing with the “kill” :) Yes its painted with zebra stripes…. or what is left of the stripes.

Once I got it home I put it up on jack stands and started to really dig into what it this Jeep is.

This is a “G” model of the Dispatcher, which was a really short lived variant. The big difference between this Dispatcher and other models was it has the AMC 121 2.0L i4 engine.

This is a very interesting engine and the history behind how these ended up in AMC vehicles… and the Dispatcher Jeep!

The EA831 engine, also known as the “Audi EA831,” was developed in the late 1960s. During the late 1960s, Audi sought Porsche’s engineering expertise to develop a new range of engines. Porsche, which had a strong reputation for engineering and performance, worked on several projects for Volkswagen since the 40’s, including the EA831 engine.

In the early 1970s, AMC was seeking to modernize its engine lineup to stay competitive in the automotive market. They had the small, light weight compacts that the gas crisis needed but not the engines.

In 1973, AMC struck a deal with Audi (then a part of Volkswagen Group) to use and license the EA831 engine. This engine was adapted for use in the AMC Gremlin, Hornet, and later the AMC Spirit. As part of this agreement, AMC was not to use the VW or Audi names when referring to the engine.

They also changed how the engine was run, Porsche was pushing fuel injection but AMC did not want that added complexity nor could burden the costs of developing a system. Thus, AMC went with a 2 barrel carburetor with a traditional points distributor. This is what became the AMC 121 engine.

Audi and Volkswagen ended up not using this engine, it was in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van. Porsche on the other hand had to pick up the pieces of the 924 fall out with Volkswagen and kept this engine there.

Basically if I need to get parts for the engine. Porsche 924 parts work and fit!

Back to the DJ-5G. AMC used it in a couple vehicles like the Sprint but it ended up being in a weird price point. The overhead cam engine was more expensive then the larger straight six and four engines that AMC was using at time. The engine was more fuel efficient then the old push rod designs but the extra price put it in the bracket of the V8 powered options. Economy at the time (and still now i suppose) was cheap = fuel efficient and expensive = powerful. So an expensive inline 4 that got good gas mileage occupied a weird spot in the market.

AMC used it in the Dispatcher jeeps but did not use the engine for long. Once AMC could get out of the deal they did. The post office also didn’t really like the small inline. You really had to rev the engine to get torque and drivers would just red line it all the time.

My copy of the DJ-5G is in ok shape. Frame is solid and the majority of the body is clean for its age. It does have one bad rust spot that will have to be fixed.

The drip rail here is rusted through which compromised the seam sealer. This ended up rusting out the upper roof frame.

This will need to be addressed but the first call to action is to get the Jeep driving again.