During World War II, the rugged and reliable Jeep was a beloved part of every battalion on both sides of the front line. The German army even regularly used captured Jeeps in the place of their own Kubelwagens, and after the war the Jeep brand quickly came into its own. But that doesn’t mean that every Jeep has had the same off-road cache that made the original so popular, and models like the Jeepster Commando have faded from the memories of many enthusiasts.
But Sam Fankuchen remembers, even if his 1970 Jeepster Commando is rarely recognized for what it actually is. Kept almost entirely stock (save for some new gauges and Recaro seats), Sam subtracted, rather than added, to his little piece of Jeep history as he committed to driving in day in and day out, as Petrolicious explores.
“I did it because I was committed to the project, I did it so that one day I’d be able to introduce my kids to cars like this,” says Sam. That also explains why he decided to rebuild the original “Dauntless” V6 engine, rather than upgrade to a more modern motor. He did away with the back seats in favor of a more versatile truck bed, though the Commando was also offered as a wagon, roadster, and convertible as well.
In an era where cars are increasingly coddling and convenience-centric, Sam’s Jeepster is a reminder of simpler times and a more “pure” driving experience. From 1966 to 1973, just 60,000 Jeepsters were built, and few remain on the road today as they haven’t benefitted from the resurgence of interest in 1960s and 70s automobiles just yet. But that seems just fine with Sam, who gets to revel in the relative rarity of his ride, keeping his piece of Jeep history going so future generations will appreciate it the same as he does today.