By the late sixties, muscle cars had become so popular that even Jeep thought about getting in on it. Albeit not quite in the traditional way, of course.
The car, called the XJ-001, was meant to be a hybrid of Jeep and sporty car, and something that was fun to drive both on and off the road. It was fully driveable and ready for production if they decided to do so. It was built on a CJ5 chassis with lowered suspension and deep-dish chrome reverse wheels, and to make it exciting and muscular, they replaced the Hurricane four-cylinder with an AMC 360 V8. It still had manually locking hubs for four-wheel drive, though, so it kept a bit of Jeepishness in that way. The low-slung fiberglass body featured an integral shoulder-height rollbar behind the seats, and I have no idea how that’s supposed to do the passengers any good, but the windshield was also strengthened in case of a rollover, so there’s that. Although color photos of the car are rare, it appears the paint was most likely Jeep Candlelight Yellow with black stripes.
When it was unveiled at the New York auto show, it became a huge hit and when Jeep was bought by AMC, they scheduled it to appear at several more auto shows. While it’s unclear whether there was any chance of it entering production, it wasn’t out of the question. But then tragedy struck. A van carrying the XJ-001 overturned on the way to a show and burst into flames, reducing the little muscle Jeep to ash and eliminating any chance of a production muscle Jeep (although they would later put a v8 in the CJ5).
The XJ-001 also had a sister car, the XJ-002, but that one looked less like a Jeep muscle car and more like a moon rover from a low-buck 70's sci-fi movie.
It’s too bad this neat little concept car had to meet such a horrible end, but on the bright side we did eventually see a Jeep muscle car of sorts in the form of the Trackhawk. And CJ5 chassis and 360 V8s aren’t impossible to obtain... hmmm......