Review text was last updated in September 2012:
This truck was bought used from a private owner. It was considered salvaged after a year of neglect by the original owner. There were a few problems such as the engine damage, radiator leak, steering gearbox was shot, brakes were worn off, bad emissions, and no spare tire.
I hauled it up to Northern California to get it in a good running condition, but was overwhelmed unexpectedly. After the engine, brakes, emissions, and radiator were replaced, the truck seemed reliable. Traveled on a long trip close to Sonoma and then to Milbrae. This truck showed outstanding reliability.
When I moved to Palm Springs in 2004 from San Francisco, the whole interior started to deteriorate and the radio stopped working. The 4 speed Aisin AX-4 started to slip one gear to another, which happens when I shift, and the manual steering gearbox was on its way to stopping working, and the rattle sound on my engine started to happen and worsened. I decided to either sell the truck, or store it for a while and mechanically restore the truck. I was smart enough to relocate to Los Angeles and restore the truck, after I learned my truck was a collector's item.
AMC introduced the Jeep Comanche to replace CJ-7's sibling, the CJ-8 Scrambler. Built in Toledo, Ohio as a uni-body construction, the truck was designed to have fuel economy and better performance than any other compact pickup. Originally, AMC was supposed to launch the Comanche along with the Cherokee in 1984, but AMC's poor financials forbid them, until August of 1985 as a 1986 model year. AMC's claim was to foresee the Comanche as their best seller pickup. Because there were only single cab long bed pickups, and their failure to follow it with either a crew cab or an extended cab, and the lowest cost was around $7500 (1987 short bed was $6500), the Comanche's sales were low and Chrysler phased them out in 1992.
It has some standard features such as the four tie-down hooks and the glove compartment light.
The drive train is a choice of a 4x2, or a Command-trac or Select-trac part time or full-time 4x4.
The Jeep Comanche has three trim levels; Custom (base), X (premium) and XLS (deluxe). The Custom has almost nothing as a standard feature, but you can input as many options you want. The X, unlike the Custom, has some standard items, such as the floor carpeting and cloth bench seat... The XLS has half of the standard features, such as the color-keyed body trim, chromed bumper and trimmings and styled steel wheels.
The 1986 Jeep Comanche Pickup is not a full genuine AMC built. The only power plant AMC standard option was the AMC 2.5 litre throttle body fuel injection inline 4 cylinder gas engine and a 19 gallon tank. Other standard non AMC equipment are the Aisin (Toyota and Isuzu) AX4 low 4 speed synchronized manual transmission floor shift, Chrysler Dana 60 axle, Ford/MotorCraft 4 wheel disc and drum powerbrake, Saganaw manual gearbox with GM fixed column and key (GM) and a Ford/MotorCraft ignition starting system with a Bosch starter.
The optional drive train are a GM 2.8 2 barrel V6 engine used in some vehicles mentioned above or a 2.1 Renault DOHC diesel inline 4 engine, Aisin AX5 (AMC 2.5L F/I or standard on GM 2.8 2bbl. V6) or Peugeot BA 10/5 (Renault 2.1 DOHC diesel) 5 speed overdrive synchronized manual transmission or a Chrysler A904 3 speed automatic transmission. 4x4 Comanches are equipped with a New Process (used in GM) transfer case Model 207.
For my own part I have the base model, the Comanche Custom 4x2. It has the standard features on the drive train and the truck itself. It has few options such as the right mirror (now both mirrors are non electric remote), premium axle, trim rings for four argent style wheels (now styled steel wheels), and an ETR AM/FM radio and cassette with DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction).
Thanks to my college in Los Angeles where I graduated in 2010, my 1986 Jeep Comanche Custom 4x2 LB pickup is now mechanically and somewhat functionally restored. The AMC 2.5 F/I I-4 engine, was donated from my classmate's wrecked Jeep Comanche pickup. I decided to rebuild and paint it (AMC showroom black paint), but I decided to use the remaining parts from my truck such as the exhaust and intake manifold. It's also been cleaned, painted and has new gaskets. It now has power steering (manual steering gearbox replaced), an upgrade to an Aisin 5 speed overdrive manual transmission (I've cleaned and rebuilt it), a three spoke steering wheel along with intermittent wiper switch and tilt column.
The interior is now black, has a black bench seats, and it only comes with 2 seat belts, which were gutted from the wrecked Comanche. I also bought few parts from the Jeep junkyard such as the tilt column for manual transmission (I painted it black), black cloth premium visors (one has vanity mirror) and wing windows that open. The radio doesn't work, but I will find someone, who can restore it.
After the mechanically restoration, it passed smog and is currently registered, and traveled with me back to San Francisco. After a cross country move, it's now running well on my family owned 12 acre farm in Georgia, and is waiting to have a complete restoration.