Veteran’s Day Salute: Kaiser Jeep M715 – Box Top

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(first posted 11/10/2014)   It’s a bit late, but here’s a CC salute to all you veterans, in our typical fashion: a military vehicle CC. This gnarly adaptation of the Jeep Gladiator was called the M175, and built just between 1967 and 1969. And under its hood was something rather unexpected and seemingly much more European than American: a 3.8L SOHC alloy hemi-head inline six.

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Yes, the (in)famous Tornado six, a rather ambitious update of the old Kaiser/Continental flathead 226 CID six, which quickly proved itself to be rather troublesome, at least in American hands. It was pulled from the Jeep line-up already in 1968, but the M175 soldiered on with it through its three-year production life. The Tornado was sent to Argentina, where it had a wonderfully long and successful life. I rather doubt there’s still a Tornado under this civilianized M715.

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The M715 is a mashup of civilian and military parts, including the interior. The M715 was a 1 1/4 ton truck, and had the typical heavy duty axles by Dana (60/70) and a Warner T-89 four speed transmission. Tough stuff. Top speed was 55 mph. The M715 saw action in Vietnam, and was eventually replaced by the Dodge M-880 series of trucks.

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The Tornado troubles did not endear the M715 to the military, mostly due to the unfamiliarity with maintenance and repair issues on something so exotic as an alloy OHC cylinder head. But it undoubtedly endears itself to those who have one now and appreciate it, most likely with an AMC V8 under the hood.  Any of you ever drive one?