Rare Jeep Honcho pickup truck was once the boss

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By James Raia
Jeep doesn’t make a lot of pickup trucks. But for seven years beginning in 1976, the Honcho trim was offered. The limited-edition was available on the J10 step side and short bed models and included bold striping and decals.

Optional extras included an interior made by Levi’s (in blue or tan) or a roll bar. The specialty trucks also included the Golden Eagle and 10-4. The latter was offered with an optional CB radio corresponding to the radio acknowledgment decal “10-4.”

The Jeep Honcho was only made for seven years.
The Jeep Honcho was only made for seven years.

The J10 Honcho was manufactured through 1983, and it could be ordered with a combination of specialty items. Only 1,264 examples were made. It’s not the most coveted vintage truck, but it’s now often considered the rarest pickup truck ever made in the United States.

Jeep Honcho: Rare but available

After American Motors Corporation (AMC) purchased Jeep from Kaiser Motors in 1970, the Honcho was sold as the Gladiator and then they were known as the J-Series trucks.

Jeep marketed the truck as the epitome of masculinity with this advertising poster refrain:

“Honcho” means boss. And when it comes to 4-wheel drive pickups, the Jeep Honcho is way out in front with sporty good looks, all-out performance and the rugged dependability that comes with the Jeep name.”

A 2020 Jeep Gladiator was customized in honor of the original Jeep Gladiator.
A 2020 Jeep Gladiator was customized in honor of the original Jeep Gladiator.

Jeep reintroduced the Gladiator as a 2020 model, its first pickup truck in 30 years. A Jeep dealer in Wisconsin decided to pay homage to the original Honcho with a Gladiator featuring look-alike original Honcho accessories.

Despite their scarcity, original Jeep Honchos are available on well-established vintage vehicle websites.

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James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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