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Jambo Production

Jeep planned to produce 2500 Jambos. However, the economy was in recession in 1982 and Jeep sales were down 50% from prior years. For example, Jeep sold 41,501 CJ-5s in 1979 and only 23,820 CJ-7s in 1982. The CJ-7 sales figures in 1982 were the second lowest of the 11 years it was produced. The lowest was 21,016 in 1976, which was the first year of CJ-7 production.

In total, estimates that around 650 Jambos were actually built, but production could be as low as 590 Jambos. This makes the Jambo one of the rarest Jeeps ever produced. Nearly twice as many '79 CJ-5 Silver Anniversaries were produced. Just about as many '71 Renegade IIs were produced as Jambos. Of the approximately 650 Jambos, estimates that about 570 (88%) were Topaz Gold Metallic (2H) and 80 (12%) were Olympic White (9B).

The Jambos were produced in two groups: The Topaz (T) Group and the Mixed (M) Group. Below is a plot of Jambo plaque numbers versus sequential serial numbers for approximately 125 Jambos registered with The gold dots represent Topaz Gold Jambos and the open dots represent Olympic White Jambos. As you can see, the T group included only Topaz Gold Metallic Jambos. After this initial run of Jambos, Jeep introduced some Olympic White Jambos during the M group production.

The Jambos that we show with a -100 plaque number are those that are missing badges.

As we explain below, T-1, T-2, and T-3 are the three batches that compose the T group. M-1 to M-6 are the six batches of the M group. X-0, X-1, X-2, and X-3 are gaps in Jambo production where we currently believe no Jambos were made. For example, X-0 runs from serial number 000001 to 039000--no Jambos were produced prior to serial number 039000.

In 1982, Jeep produced about 6,000 Jeep vehicles per month. So, the time between serial numbers 40,000 and 42,000 is about 10 days.

Our best guess is that Jambo production began around February 18, 1982. This is one day after engineering signed off on the Jambo production run. This would mean that the initial run of Jambos was complete around March 17, 1982, which is in advance of the April 1, 1982 release date. Here is a chart of Jambo badge number vs estimated production date. If this schedule is correct, Jambo production was complete by mid-July 1982. You can help us figure out when the Jambos were produced by reading this.

The Topaz Group

The first group of Jambos, which we call the Topaz (T) Group, were all painted Topaz Gold Metallic. The T group probably included Jambos #0031 through about #0442. In addition to being painted gold, we believe that these Jambos all conformed to the original Jambo specs laid out by Jeep in their Product Direction Letters, including the exclusion of factory-installed air conditioning.

We estimate that production began around February 18, 1982, and that the T Jambos were all built over a four-week period. We believe that this group of Jambos was the speculative sales group that was sent out to the dealerships. As you can see in the chart above, the sequential serial numbers for the T group range from about 039000 through 045000.

The T group was produced in three batches, which we refer to the T-1, T-2, and T-3 batches. Plaque numbers tend to increase as you move from the T-1 to the T-3 group, however, the overlap is considerable. For example, #0440 was produced in the T-2 batch, whereas, #0266 was produced in the T-3 batch. It does seem that Jeep produced #0031 through #0100 in the T-1 batch. Within the T group, the T-2 batch was the largest.

Within each batch, Jambo plaque numbers were assigned randomly as Jambos came down the line--not serially. This means that within a particular batch, a Jambo with a higher serial number could have a lower plaque number. If you think about the production line, this makes sense. The T group was the initial large run of Jambos. At some point in the production line, Jeep must have had a bin of Jambo plaques. Rather than laying all the plaques out in order, the line worker simply reached in the bin, pulled out a number, and installed it on the Jambo.

As you can see, there seem to be a few outliers within the T-1 batch. We are unable to explain this. It could be that these Jambos were specially numbered or it could be that they were rebadged at a later date.

The Mixed Group believes the Mixed (M) Group consists of Jambos #0001 through #0030 and perhaps #0451 through about #0700 (#0751 was likely rebadged at a later date or specially numbered). This group of Jambos began production about one month after the initial run of Jambos were completed. As discussed above, The T group went through about #0442. We believe badges #0443 through #0449 were not used.

As you can see in the chart above, the M Jambos were produced in small batches. It is likely these Jambos were specially ordered by individual buyers. Because of this, Jeep allowed some changes to be made, including the addition of an Olympic White (9B) paint option. The Olympic White option is listed in the Jambo sales brochure, which is dated 3/82. So, this deviation from the original Jambo specs must have been made sometime in late February or March 1982, as the inital T group was nearing completion.

This addition of Olympic White was likely done based on early dealer feedback. Jeep sales were very low in 1981-1982 and dealers may have feared that the more expensive, and gold, Jambos would not sell well. Gold has never been a popular car color. White has always been the most popular automobile color. estimates that about 80 (40%) of the M Jambos were white and 120 (60%) were gold. While painting the Jambos white might have increased sales, it did remove the primary and unique feature of the Jamboree trim package, as defined in the Jeep Product Direction Letters. We also believe that Jeep allowed factory installed air conditioning at this point, as well as a hardtop, and an automatic transmission.

Interestingly, #0001 through #0030 were not the first Jambos made. Rather, they were made after the initial large run of around 412 Jambos. This was likely done to save low numbers for special people, such as important employees and dealers. AMC followed this same strategy in their serializing of the AMX, which is the only other AMC vehicle to have been serialized. We believe #0001 through #0030 were all Topaz Gold, but are not certain of this (all seven known Jambos from this batch are Topaz).

We have divided the M Group into six batches, M-1 through M-6. As you can see in the chart above, Jeep made sure to start with lower plaque numbers and moved up as more Jambos were ordered. This make sense. At this point in the production run, Jeep did not know how many Jambos would ultimately be purchased. So, they would wait until they had a sufficient number of orders and then produce a batch of Jambos using the next available plaque numbers. However, as with the T Group, within a batch, the numbers were not always assigned in sequential order. The relationship is better than the T Group, but not perfect. We believe Jeep better matched plaque numbers to serial numbers in the M group because they were producing much smaller batches. This would have made it easier for a line worker to keep track of the plaque numbers.

We also believe that producing the Jambos in small batches led Jeep to skip some Jambo badge numbers. When Jeep finished a particular batch, such as M-1, they likely had some plaques left over. Were these returned to the stock? We think they may not have been. For example, there is a large gap in numbers between what we think is the end of the T group and the start of the M group. For example, we don't know of any Jambos between #0440 and #0454 (a gap of 13, which is very large), which is the range in which production shifted from the T group to the M group. In addition, between the M-1/M-2, M-4/M-5, and M-5/M-6 batches there are large gaps between known Jambo badge numbers. For example, the last known Jambo that we believe is an M-4 is #0598 and the first known Jambo that we believe is an M-5 is #0615. This is a gap of 16 plaque numbers. The average gap between known Jambo plaque numbers is about 2.5. So, a gap of 16 is very surprising. We believe that the plaque numbers left over at the end of each M batch were not always returned and this led to Jeep skipping about 50 plaque numbers during the M group. This explains why Jeep may have produced through #0700 in the M group, but that we still estimate that Jeep only produced fewer than 650 Jambos in total.

The Number of Jambos Produced

In order to estimate the total number of Jambos produced from our sample of about 229, we need to apply some statistics. To do so, we use a method developed during World War II (WWII).

During WWII, the Allies needed to estimate German tank production. They did this by analyzing the serial numbers that appeared on captured or destroyed German tank gear boxes. In order to estimate the highest and yet unseen serial number you start with the highest serial number you have observed. Let's call that value N. You then add N/K to N and subtract 1, where K is the number of observed tanks. So, if you have seen a lot of tanks then you have also probably seen the highest number. If you have only seen a few tanks, then this formula allows for existence of higher numbered tanks. This is known as the German Tank Problem and you can read more about it here.

To estimate the number of Jambos produced we do the following:

1. We first assume that #0001 through #0030 were produced. This seems like a reasonable assumption since Jeep saved these low numbers and many owners would prefer lower numbers--even though we now know these Jambos were made late in the production run, not early. However, it could be that Jeep never used all these numbers. They did not use all the AMX numbers that they held out for special people. In fact, we have only found five Jambos from this group. That is only 17%. Whereas, as we discuss below, we have found 36% of the T Jambos. So, it really could be the case that Jeep never produced all of these and perhaps they only used half the numbers between #0001 and #0030. If so, we could be over estimating production by about 15 Jambos.

2. We then estimate the number of Jambos produced in the T group using the German Tank Model. We know of 144 Jambos from the T group (this is counting all numbers we have heard off--including mythical Jambos). Out of 144 known T Jambos , the highest number we know of is #0440. This yields as estimate of 440 + 440/144 - 1 = 442 for the highest Jambo number in the T group. There is some uncertainty in this process. In addition, it seems that Jeep might have begun by producing a round number of Jambos, such as 450. Then again, maybe they just made one for each dealer.

We currently estimate that T Group ended around #0450. We further believe that all the numbers were used during this group so that the T group contains 420 Jambos. We have found 144 or 34% of these Jambos. This also makes some sense, as it is likely that nearly 2/3 of the original Jambo stock has gone to salvage over the last 35 years.

It is possible that Jeep skipped or lost some numbers from the T group since there are large gaps between some numbers. It is known that AMC lost many AMX badges or that they were stolen. The average gap between known Jambo numbers in the T group is 2.2. However, there is a gap of 10 between known Jambos #0239 and #0250, a gap of 10 between #0377 and #0388, and a gap of 12 between #0388 and #0401. The later two gaps means that we are missing 22 out of 23 Jambos between #0377 and #0401. This is really surprising. It seems likely that something happened to the badges at this point. However, for now, we will assume that all T Jambos were produced, noting that we could be overestimating that number produced by about 20.

3. We cannot apply the German Tank Model to the M group because we believe Jeep skipped plaque numbers in this group. Therefore, we back into the total number of M Jambos by assuming that we should have found the same fraction of M Jambos as T Jambos. We see no reason that M Jambos would have been more or less likely to survive than T Jambos. We know of 68 M Jambos (again, including the mythical Jambos), which yields a production estimate of 68/0.34 = 200.

So, in total, we estimate that 30 + 420 + 200 = 650 Jambos were produced. As we discuss below, we estimate that 570 of these were Topaz Gold Metallic and 80 were Olympic White.

If you don't round up to #0450 as we did in step 2, we estimate that 638 Jambos were produced. If they also only produced half the Jambos from #0001 to #0030 then the estimate would fall to around 623 Jambos. If they also skipped numbers in the T group, our production estimate would fall to around 608 Jambos.

If Jeep did not skip numbers and we could apply the German Tank Model to the M group, the estimate would be 699 Jambos. This is very hard to believe, because it would imply that we had found 33% of the T Jambos, but only 26% of the M Jambos.

In sum, it is clear that Jeep produced fewer than 700 Jambos, not 2500. Our best estimate is 650 Jambos, but it could be as low as 600. This production estimate makes the Jambo the rarest CJ-7 ever produced and one of the rarest Jeeps ever.

The Jambo is in the same rarity class as the 1971 Renegade II. 600 1971 Renegade IIs were produced with the following color breakdown: 200 Mint Green, 200 Baja Yellow, 150 Big Bad Orange, and 50 Riverside Red.

The Number of White Jambos Produced

As discussed above, during the M group, Jeep allowed Jambos to be painted Olympic White. Just how many Jambos were white is an interesting question. As far as we know, no records exist.

We know of 22 white Jambos. This is about 40% of the known M Jambos. Therefore, we estimate that 39% x 200 = 80 white Jambos were produced. Again, there is uncertainty about this number. estimates that it could be as low as 55 or as high as 105. Our best estimate is that about 80 Olympic White Jambos were produced.

This puts the Olympic White Jambo in the same rarity class as the 50 Riverside Red Renegade IIs. However, other CJs could have been painted white. White was not a special Jambo color like Topaz Gold Metallic, or like the special Renegade-II colors. In fact, on average 25% of vehicles are white. Jeep produced nearly 380,000 CJ-7s. So, there might have been nearly 100,000 white CJ-7s over this time. In 1982 alone, Jeep produced about 25,000 CJ-7s, with perhaps as many as 6,000 being white. 

How many Jambos still exist? What are my chances of finding one?

As detailed in the Jambo RegistryTM, we have confirmed 144 Jambos. If you add in the Likely and Possible Jambos, we know of 205 Jambos. We are not including scrapped Jambos or mythical Jambos because we want to calculate the number of Jambos that currently exist and are left to find. The scrapped Jambos are gone and the mythical Jambos are in the group we want to find.

As we find new Jambos it gets harder to find the next one. For example, we found 43 Jambos the first year we started looking. Now, we might find 5 or fewer per year.

We fit a mathematical function to this data, which exhibits exponential decline. The result is that we estimate we have found about 82% of the Jambos that still exist. In total, we estimate that 248 Jambos remain in existence (217 2H + 31 9B). That would be about one-third of the original production. This does not mean these Jambos are all in good shape. Some could be very rusty or just a pile of parts and not restorable, but are just not in a salvage yard yet. 248 remaining Jambos means there are about 44 Jambos left to find. Of these 44, we estimate that 39 are Topaz Gold Metallic and 5 are Olympic White. If you take out the 13 Mythical Jambos we have on the site, that leaves 31 Jambos whose numbers have never been reported. Can you find one?

Why are there outliers?

Notice in the Jambo production chart, repeated below, that several Jambo numbers seem to be outliers. For example, #0696 (M-4), #0701 (M-3), #0702 (T-1), and #0751 (M-2) do not fit the production pattern.


We believe that #0702 was likely rebadged sometime after production because it was one of the first Jambos made and Jeep still believed they would sell 2500 at this time and, therefore, would not have tried to issue the largest potential badge number.

#0696, #0701, and #0751 were all white and were likely specially ordered and numbered. By this time in the production run it is likely that Jeep had decided it would not make more than around 700 Jambos. The fact that #0751 was made before the other special orders also suggests that around the time it was produced, Jeep might have thought that it would sell no more than 750 Jambos and someone wanted to have the highest number. This is just speculation, but one can see how it could have happened.

The other outliers are #0133 (M-1), #0310 (T-1), and #0426 (T-1). We believe that #0133 has been rebadged because we have a picture of it on the site without a badge number. We believe that #0426 and #0427 were specially numbered during the T-1 batch. We cannot explain the numbering of #0310 and have not be able to confirm that #0310 is actually a Jambo. It has a Jambo badge, but has been repainted. We need to see the VIN tag to confirm this Jambo.

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