The Jeep FJ-3 Fleetvan used to deliver the mail, but now it’s being delivered. But since this is as close as I’m likely to get to one of these, we’ll use this hulk as a tribute to the little Jeep van. And little it was.
Here’s how it looked in USPS livery. It was first built in 1961, and now that I’ve looked at it, I’m thinking that our featured Fleetvan is not a former USPS van, as it does not have the wide horizontal grille as well as having different turn signal lights and the rear side window is different too. But wait a minute; this FJ-3 doesn’t have the horizontal grille that all the sources say it’s supposed to have.
Like this one. Hmm; maybe there was an early and a late version. Is that the same postman? Looks like it. I guess he was their designated model for photo shoots.
Our featured van is right hand drive. I suppose that was available on civilian versions too, perhaps, for those making lots of deliveries. Or maybe this is a former USPS van.
Here’s a graphic showing how this van is of course heavily based on the DJ3A Dispatcher Jeep. It shares the same stubby 81″ wheelbase and narrow track axles, although of course it’s not 4WD.
Here’s the specs.
I’m including this shot from a movie just to give some perspective as to just how tiny these were. Total length was 135″, and 64.7″ width. The postal service wasn’t delivering large quantities of packages from Amazon back then. And for that matter, lots of postal delivery was being done from three wheelers, like Cushmans and others.
An impressive array of articulated wipers on the windshield, which was undoubtedly inspired by the GM “fishbowl” bus and others.
This is where the Jeep F-head Hurrican 134 four once resided. Transmission choices were a B/W three speed manual and a B/W automatic.
Here’s the exit. And the cargo area. These Fleetvans were rated to carry 1,000lbs of cargo, so they probably rode a bit stiffly when empty.
Nice badge. These were built in Toledo, Ohio.
Another view of the rolling mail box
Undoubtedly because the FJ-3 had such a limited cargo area, Jeep saw fit to extend the rear overhang by 19″ and call it the FJ-3A.
These were targeted at the civilian market. This sports the classic Jeep grille slots that were used on all the non-USPS versions.
The wide-body FJ6 replaced the FJ3 for the USPS after 1965. Visibility to the curb side was vastly improved too. These were popular as ice cream trucks in their second careers.
I wonder what this Fleetvan’s future holds? Chicken house? Restomod? AirBnB?
related: 1963 Studebaker Zipvan
This is a very interesting Jeep that I’ve never heard about. Here’s hoping this one sees a new and productive life despite it having had so many parts harvested.
Something about the FJ-3A jumped out at me – are my eyes deceiving me or does it have the steering column mounted in the middle, specifically the red and white one in the ad? It would rather make a degree of sense, although it does seem like it might compromise front loading room. From what I have seen, Tesla is doing similar with their upcoming road tractor.
What’s the story with the “Not for deposit of mail” mailbox? Did they just leave mailbags in a box like that rather than taking it all the way to the other PO?
That is what I was told as a little kid. I remember thinking that the mailman was a person of great trust and responsibility, doubly so since he had the key to one of those! Funny, the things that sick with you over the years…
The mailman is likely putting mail into this box that a walking carrier will pick up for delivery. It saves the walking carrier from needlessly carrying everything to be delivered on his Route at once. It is a locked box with no mail slot and they are painted green. They are still in use today.
Yes, and they still use them here in New York. One is just outside my apartment building.
First the “not for deposit” boxes where used in cities when the walking mail carriers bags got too heavy with outgoing mail and packages, They could drop it off, And postal vans would make regular rounds to pick it up.
Next, A VELOCITY CHANNEL show called PHANTOM WORKS, recently rebuilt one of these for a young couple who wanted it back to factory stock. Thing ran but was a mess. And was right hand drive, which made it even more rare.They had very difficult time finding parts, And for “drama” (it is a reality show) The owner of the shop carried on like rebuilding it was an absolute nightmare, But he does that with every car or truck. Myself I would have put a CJ 4wd under it, But they left it stock. Came out pretty cool.
Sometimes I’ll watch Phantom Works, but the manufactured drama does get tiresome but it’s kept to a low roar. They are finicky about restoration which I like and respect. I’d trust them to restore my car if I could afford it there. The only other two shows I watch on Velocity are Wheeler Dealers and Graveyard Carz. Edd didn’t do drama and he had a terrific way of explaining how everything worked and how to affordably fix it. Ant is okay, but he’s not as good as Edd. It’s fun watching Mike try to find parts. Graveyard Carz, is filmed next door to Paul N in Springfield OR. I’d like to see them restore a Newport or Polara, do something different than Chargers and ‘Cudas.
The rest of the shows on there, where every other word is bleeped out, the shops are cluttered and dirty, drama is everything and all they focus on are musclecars…I don’t bother watching and I wouldn’t trust them to touch my car. They’re stuck on a boring, repetitive formula and it mostly sucks.
Reread my post, and mis-spoke The Phantom works mail truck had LEFT hand steering. It was supervisors van, and not used for regular mail delivery. I find Graveyard tedious, as follows..
“Now the difference under the hood between the 74 Cuda and the 75 Cuda is easy to see because the 3rd screw , to the left of center on the underside of the 74 hood the slot is setting at the 12 0clock position. And the 75 cuda if built on the first shift on march 23 1975 has a smaller weld seam in the back left hand corner, because of a split second power failure at the plant…blah..blahh” Really?? yawn..fascinating 🙁
Jon, the nerd in me finds these explanations interesting. It at least keeps Mark, the host and boss of the enterprise, busy. During previous seasons he spent his time personally degrading his people and sabotaging their work. What kind of boss does that?
“What kind of boss does that?”
A lot of them, unfortunately
“What kind of boss does that?”
One cut from the same cloth as the people who watch it.
FantomWorks is one of the very few “automotive” shows I’ll watch. The majority of them are nothing but pack of jerks with manufactured personalities, suffering arrested adolescence, and trying to out-dick each other on camera.
This may be helpful: The information on Fantomworks about the “postal” vehicle was incorrectly represented on purpose for the show for drama. Vehicle owners say so in other posts. That vehicle was an FJ3-A which was shortened to look like a FJ3. It also had newly fabricated rear doors with circular windows. It was not a “supervisor” postal FleetVan. All FJ3A models were LHD. All postal FJ3 models were RHD.
That episode is scheduled to be rebroadcast on Motor Trend TV, Wednesday April 1st, 7AM PDT.
I have NO idea what sort of “manufactured drama” Mark is talking about, since the absence of it (unlike virtually every other “rebuild/restore” series) is what makes the show bearable. Watch it yourself and form your own opinion.
If you care to edit the story, Jeep FleetVans were produced for Jeep by Highway Products Co in Kent Ohio operating in rental space (later purchased). The main facility was Twin Coach a large bus manfacturer. I was in the building today. Founder of Highway Products was Joseph T. Myers a director of Twin Coach.
Best Regards, GaryKiviniemi
Owner of a 1962 FJ3-A.
Phone Number not for publication:
Nine three one-four zero nine- 9981.
Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, but it looks to me like it’s been stripped of anything useful for somebody’s CJ3 project and the carcass is on it’s way to the scrap heap.
Unless it was purchased because they needed a right hand drive steering box?
(Ooooops, just noticed the previous post, same topic….)
Last TV season, Fantom Works had an episode where they performed a restoration on one of these. Generally, such a vehicle would not have caught my attention but this episode did. I am old enough to remember when these were in mail service except that I don’t, so I found the episode to be something new & different.
Not sure if older episodes are on YouTube, etc. but Velocity runs both the current season and reruns from prior seasons.
I just watched a rerun of that episode the other day. Not my favorite show, but this was such an oddball that it was worth watching. Plus, my dad’s final job was with the USPS, doing paint and body on their fleet of Jeeps in the 70s. I assume that the Jeep was the “go-to” on the contracts from post WWII to the 1980s. Apparently, there are supposed to be less than 20 existing now, as the USPS contract with Willys Jeep called for the return of all these at the end of the contract, and Willys crushed them all.
I like it when shows do oddball vehicles. I tire of seeing musclecars.
I only learned about these when researching on the Zip Van. I find it amazing that the Post Office used so many different specially-built vehicles. The current LLV or commercially available minivans seem to be a much better way to run a postal delivery fleet.
The badge looks like Willys “borrowed” a mold from Ford.
The FJ3A longer version would make a cute supermini RV.
There was also the Studebaker Zip Van, but I think it was a bit larger.
At one time I wanted to own a USPS DJ-5. One of the things I learned that stopped me was that they got their immense load ratings (and the ability to move loads from a stop with a low-powered engine) by using incredibly steep gearing. The rear axle was something like 5.38:1, which means they’re effectively limited to about 50 mph.
After I learned that, the DJ was much less interesting to me.
Couldn’t one simply swap out the gears? Then again, I don’t know that I’d WANT to be going much over 50 in one of these or even its donor Willys….
When I was a kid I had a small plastic model of one of these that was made by the Lindberg model car company. It was about the size of a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car and was called a “Mini-Lindy.” (There were other small plastic models of different cars, in addition to the cute little mail van.)
Wow, I don’t recall ever seeing one of these. It definitely needs to be saved; unfortunately not by me.
Reading the many vintage Jeep posts here over the years, one question has bothered me. In all the 50s and 60s advertising the word “JEEP” is always in quotation marks. They went away when AMC took over. Was it a trademark thing, or something else?
Nobody’s noticed THIS yet: the trailer wheels are off of a ’99-’04 Ford Mustang. That van is something else all right; never even heard of it! There’s a van for everyone out there.
That van is great! I thought the FC Jeeps were/are awesome, but this is on a whole ‘nother level. So cool, what a great find. I hope it ends up put back together somehow, somewhere.
What a coincidence! I was in Portland, Maine last month and saw this FJ-3A. As can be seen, the steering wheel is on the left so it was probably never meant for mail delivery service.
I was born about the time these hit the streets but don’t recall ever seeing one until I saw this one last month. Our housekeeper’s husband was a mail carrier and, although he never drove his postal service vehicle home (he had a cool* 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline sedan as his personal vehicle) I was very aware of the DJ-5 Jeeps delivering mail in our neighborhood.
*I thought the Fleetline was cool because it was “so old.” At the time it was a typical 15 year old car. Since it was in Texas it had virtually no rust but the paint was very faded and the upholstery was worn.
The gentleman was frugal. In 1969 he sold the Fleetline and bought a brand new Chevrolet C-10 stepside pickup with absolutely no options – in-line 6, 3-on-the-tree, manual steering and brakes, no AC even though he was in Texas, and not even a radio. I’m sure the dealer was delighted with him. The fact that his daughter had a rather extravagant wedding the year before might have had something to do with his choice of transportation. He drove the C-10 until his last days in the mid-1990’s.
Here’s the close up of the Fleetvan showing the left-side steering.
Ok now the CC effect is getting weird… I was watching Fantom Works over lunch today and they featured the Fleetvan restoration mentioned in comments above. And then I came her to CC, having been away from it for a week while we had relatives staying, and lo, here’s a Fleetvan…! From never having heard of them to watching and then reading about them in the same day? This alternate-CC-universe never ceases to amaze!
Just found two USPS Fleetvans here in Texas. Right Hand Drive and horizontal grille etc.
I remember these little vans delivering the mail when I was a kidlet first cataloging conscious memories that I would be able to keep. The mail truck photos are in black and white, but in living color, these vans made a striking impression, even to a four year old. White over blue paint, with a wide horizontal red stripe, and the lettering was black shadowed gold in an old-style font. Really good looking, and made the tiny little vans into very charismatic vehicles.
I remember the “CD” civil defense badges on them, and later tried to figure out what the mailman had to do with helping me duck and cover, or find a fallout shelter.