The Jeep before they bought Jeep.
Being an AMC guy, I get a fair amount of abuse but I remind those abusing me of the innovative vehicles the company came out with in response to the market. One example is this week’s car spot, the Mighty Mite.
So back to the response to the market thing. In the early 50s, the Marine Corps was looking for a lightweight Jeep-like vehicle and it had to fit in five main requisites. 1: weight not to exceed 1500 lbs. 2: High mobility and maneuverability. 3: Small, yet sufficient cargo and towing capacity for usual military duties. 4: Ease of maintenance and reliability. 5: Versatility to enable it to the various needs of the infantry. But they couldn’t find a manufacturer until, you guessed it, tiny AMC raised its hand in 1959 to say they could swing it.
So the reason for the weight limit is that helicopters of that era didn’t have great lifting ability. they wanted to be able to load a bunch of these vehicles along with the other stuff they would need on maneuvers. This, as it turns out, was way ahead of its time. The body was made out of aluminum, as are the axle center sections, transmission, and engine.
RELATED Spot: A classic CJ-7, the Mighty Mite’s big brother.
There were two wheelbase versions, 65 and 71 inches. The overall length is 6 inches longer at 113. The suspension is all independent and apparently balanced well enough to allow the removal of a rear wheel and it will still drive on the remaining 3 left. The brakes were inboard front and rear. Power is from an AMC all-aluminum air-cooled V4, 108 cubic inches producing 55 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and 90 lb-ft of torque at 2-3000 rpm. I could run on 80-octane gas.
RELATED Spot: The Mighty Mite’s great uncle, the M715.
Ok, keep in mind this is the government we’re dealing with here and by the time the Mighty Mite started rolling off the Kenosha Assembly line helicopters started getting more powerful and the need for the Mighty Mite was gone. Somewhere between 4 and 5,000 were made when production ended in 1962. But, as it turns out, AMC wasn’t out of the military contract business for long because, in 1970, they bought Jeep Corporation.
What are they worth now? You can grab these, if you can find one, pretty cheap for well under 20 grand. Of course, there are exceptions. This 1963 sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction in October 2020 for just over $47 grand.
Thanks for stopping by and checking us out. Come back next week for another car spot along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.