1967 M715 Jeep®
Fed Stock Number: 2320-921-6365
Part Number: 1000545
Contract Number: DA-20-113-AMC-10235(T)(MYP)
Well, I finally let the old M715 go. It was just so impractical and expensive to drive and the F150 mechanicals and engine were in need of so much work I decided it was time to let the next person have it and see what they can do with it!
Yes, it was a fun project and I learned a lot, but it was a money pit, no question. And I was tired of throwing money into the pit. A financial guy I like, Dave Ramsey, says the way to figure out if it's time to sell something is to ask yourself if you would buy the thing again right now if you could? If the answer is "no," then it's time to let whatever it is go. And it was time to let the M go. I traded it in on a new truck and got pretty much nothing for it in trade. But it's out of my hair, out of the carport and hopefully will go on to be with someone who wants to put the time and money into it to make it better.
The M715 was a military version of civilian Gladiator pick-up. In 1962 the Willys company in the U.S.A. built a line of trucks called Wagoneer and J-100, in
three versions: station wagon, panel delivery and pickup truck. This last one was called Gladiator J-200, would be modified for the use in the army and would receive the name of Cargo Truck, 1 1/4 Ton 4x4. The motor was a six
cylinder Kaiser "Tornado." The suspension, mounted to the chassis, was strengthened. The original transmission was
a four speed manual and the transfer case had two speeds. It had a removable canvas top and the windscreen
folded forward to the hood.
The first contract was closed with Kaiser in 21 of March of 1966, for the production of 20,680 trucks at the unit cost of US $4,400. The ambulance version was called M725 and the telephone maintenance truck, M726. M715 had entered service in 1967 and had been in use until the middle 70's. One of the main accessories of this Kaiser was the mechanical winch of 8 thousand pounds.
There are some things about military vehicles that you may want to keep in mind when looking for one if they are in original (not modified) condition:
- 24V electrical system (probably the most often found modification to original military trucks is the electrical system will be switched over to 12V).
- Manual steering and brakes.
- Low axle gearing (usually in the 5.88 range which is even lower than the early CJ5s).
- Low top end speeds of 40 to 55 MPH due to the low gearing. Of course this means they'll be great on the trail or pulling things but also very dicey on today's freeways.
- Brakes can be minimal (although I've heard that the M715 stock brakes are OK when they are working correctly).
- Generally underpowered. The Tornado 6-cylinder engines found in the M715 are not always economically rebuildable so many are replaced with Chevy and sometimes Ford motors.
- Heaters were optional and AC was not available.
- Wipers are usually vacuum operated.
So, in my opinion an M715 in stock form would be a lot of fun 4-wheeling but not so good as a daily driver. You'll find a lot of M715s that have been modified to one degree or another from a simple 24V to 12V modification to trucks with new motors, transmissions, axles and frames. My M715 is a modified truck.
So, you want to buy a truck long-distance?
I found my M715 in a roundabout way. I had been looking on-line for quite some time as very few M715s ever made it to New Mexico. Maybe this was because most of these trucks were from Army bases and we have Air Force facilities here. At any rate, I was actually looking at one that was on eBay® late in 2003:
My modified M715 on the left and the original
eBay M715 on the right.
Although I bid on it I lost the eBay truck but it turned
out that the seller of that truck had another M715 he needed to sell. It
wasn't quite finished yet (which would be a real problem when trying to get it
back home) but it was a pretty neat modification. It's an original M715
body and bed on a 1978 Ford F150 4X4 frame. It has a 351M 8-cylinder
engine mated to a full size C6 automatic. The gearing is 3.50 so it's
great on the highway but not on the trail which is what I wanted. I use Binky
on the trail, and the M is far more practical on the highway (other than it's
low gas mileage).
I made some big errors in how I went about buying this truck. I went out to Arkansas and drove it back. The thing gets about 9 MPG downhill with a tailwind and the gas tank that was in it originally only held 18 gallons. Except that it didn't hold that much due to the way it was mounted in the truck, so it was a nightmare getting it back home! We had to gas up about every 70-80 miles, and we ran out of gas 4 times. Thank God for the 2 jerry cans we brought along. They literally saved our bacon. The better way to buy a truck long-distance is the following:
- Figure out what you want.
- Contact the seller and get as much info as possible in advance including pictures.
- Fly out to see it.
- Fly back home and think about it.
- If you decide to buy it, make an offer. Then, if the offer's accepted...
- Have the SOB shipped back.
Trust me, this is the way to do it! The only
thing I did right was to go see the truck in person, everything else I did was
wrong. We ran out of gas 4 times, we ran into a torrential rain storm in
Oklahoma and had to stop as the windows fogged so badly we couldn't see.
Unfortunately the rain destroyed the heater motor so on the coldest day of the
year in New Mexico we had no heat in the cab at all. The electrical system
was a mess plus the credit card company shut off our card due to all the gas
purchases we were making. Yeah, it was a real trip from hell. But,
it did make it back!
This site will outline many of the things I've had to do to get this truck into "daily driver shape" (NOTE: this site will not be updated as the truck is now gone, "sold" by trading it in.) After getting over the initial horror of the trip from hell, it's been a fairly fun and educational project.
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