As you may know, I’m a Postal Jeep apologist, having resurrected one from the dead and taken it on an epic off-road trip from Detroit, Michigan to Moab, Utah back in 2019. For this reason, I must tell you about the contraption I just discovered for sale on Facebook Marketplace for 8000 actual United States dollars. It is deeply strange.
First, here’s some throwback footage of The Before Times, back when I was but a lowly technical editor at Jalopnik, focused solely on wrenching and on bringing big traffic to that website; look at the joy in my eyes, the exuberance in my voice — those were the days:
Project POStal remains the greatest car I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning; I mourn its untimely death anytime anyone utters the word “Indiana,” as that’s where the Jeep was assembled in 1976 at the old Studebaker plant.
Anyway, this adventure left me indelibly linked to the Jeep “DJ” Dispatcher, which is why people frequently tag me in Postal Jeep-related posts on social media. Just this week, I learned through a social media tag that my favorite junkyard in the world, U.S. Auto in Sterling Heights, Michigan, recently took ownership of a DJ (which the ‘yard erroneously calls a CJ5). Check it out!:
Had I not moved out of Detroit last week, I’d likely be sitting in that Jeep right now, replaying memories of Project POStal. (There’s a chance I’d have taken that dash pad, which appears to be in mint condition).
I also learned this week — again via a social media tag — that this thing is for sale in Utica, New York:
The listing’s description reads:
1982 Mail jeep sitting on a 1996 s10 frame. 350 motor and 350 transmission. Steering has been converted to right hand drive. Runs and drivers great. Very fun and fast truck
It’s not clear if it’s actually been converted to right-hand drive, given that most Postal Jeeps already were RHD, but it is possible given that a good number were left-hand drive, and converting it would have been fairly easy with a parts Jeep.
Anyway, here’s a look at the Chevy 350, which would have replaced an Iron Duke 2.5-liter four-cylinder (by 1979, the AMC straight-six was gone).
In reality, it would have replaced whatever was in the S10 that gave its chassis for this body-swap — so either a little 2.2-liter four-cylinder or a 4.3-liter 90-degree V6. And while the latter is quite good, a 350 is a clear upgrade, here, and certainly would have been far too much motor for the original DJ’s short, tall platform.
I’m not entirely sure how this body swap went down given how incredibly narrow the DJ’s original frame is (I would know, since I had to fabricate a big part of it, since mine had a two-foot section almost completely rusted out). But the image above shows the front bumper seemingly mounted above the front frame horns, indicating that the bumper’s mounting provisions for the original frame were too far inboard to mount cleanly to the S10 frame.
Did the builder keep some of the DJ’s frame and weld it to the S10’s frame? It’s not entirely clear to me, but I’d love to know.
Look at the back of the box, which does hang quite far off the rear axle, but not as far as you’d think thanks to the DJ’s absurdly short body length. PO Boxes! How clever.
Would I say this is a beautifully-integrated execution? Absolutely not. But is it that much worse than the new Jeep Gladiator? As much as I’d like to poke fun at how Jeep basically just slapped a five-foot bed on the back of a Wrangler, in reality the answer is “yes.” This is way worse. Still, I love it, just like I love the Gladiator. It’s not rational.
Eight grand is absurd, though.
The idea of a postal-Jeep Gladiator custom-build is awesome (new idea for the Bishop?). This build didn’t quite live up to that awesomeness in execution though. Granted, it does like they had a fun time with it, and those PO boxes in the back of the bed are a really nice touch. That said, 8K is all the crack that one can pipe in.
And project POStal itself! I remember it being sold, but entirely missed the post showing its untimely demise. Hopefully someone eventually grabbed the engine, steering box, and any other bits you had breathed new life into.