Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle

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The Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle or CUCV Program was instituted to provide the United States military with a cheaper Light Utility Vehicle to augment the purpose-built, but expensive, Gama Goats and M151 series "Jeeps" approaching the end of their service life. It initially provided Dodge D Series and then Chevrolet C/Ks with several military modifications. The vehicle has five basic configurations; cargo, utility, ambulance, shelter carrier, and chassis. The vehicles were purchased in the late 1970s and early 1980s from Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Division, and in the mid-1980s from General Motors Chevrolet, and GMC Truck divisions.

CUCVs wereintended to perform "background" roles, much like the rear echelon human troops, providing support for frontline forces, such as cargo transport, background support, ambulance, and communications. CUCVs were not built intended for direct frontline combat use, as evident by their lack of bulletproofing and no protection from improvised explosive devices or other ordnances. Windshield, cabin glass, and body panels are civilian-grade and offer no protection from firearms or explosives. As a result, some CUCV's were replaced by the same HMMWV's they were to augment.

Th U.S. military continued to keep CUCV Is in active service long after their projected lifespan. CUCVs of all generations are still in U.S. service, though there are also many that have passed through military surplus sales into civilian ownership. In U.S. military service, CUCVs have been removed from MTOE-based organizations in the Army and Marines, but are still in use as base/garrison support vehicles for organizations like Range Control, Base Facilities, and Engineering.

Dodge M880 Series[edit]

Dodge M882

The M880 Series had 12 volt electrical systems and were powered with the 318 cubic inch gasoline engine. The M880s were an attempt by the U.S. military to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles with minor modifications in non-combat roles. They were intended to replace the M37 Cargo Trucks and the M715 Cargo Trucks and related variants.

Around 1973, Dodge began developing the M880 series trucks, which were militarized adaptations of their current model 4×4s. These trucks weren't known as CUCVs at the time, but were in use for many years. They had several failings: a gasoline powerplant, 12-volt electrical systems.( 24 volt kit was available) and no power steering. The electrical system was addressed by upgrades where needed, but the gasoline engine proved a fatal flaw as the military moved increasingly to diesel engines. The lack of power steering in the military vehicles was a great hindrance in off road and close quarters work (although many civilian and air force models had power steering). Around 44,000 M880s were produced during the 1976 through 1977 model years, and served for the Army and Air Force until the late 1990s.

An armored variant was built by Cadillac Gage as the Ranger.


Chrysler 318 cubic inch engine (5.2 liters)
2 bbl Carter or Holley Carburetor
150 H.P.
230 TQ
Torqueflite 727 automatic transmission
2-speed New Process transfer case, NP203 (full-time 4×4)
Leaf springs all around
Dana 44 solid front axle (4.10:1 axle gearing)
Dana 60 solid rear axle (full-floating, 4.10:1 axle gearing)
Front Disc brakes
Rear drum brakes
Manual Steering
70 MPH top speed
10 on road and 8 off road MPG.

Four-wheel drive version[edit]

  • M880 - Basic Dodge 4×4 pickup truck model.
  • M881 - M880 fitted with additional 100-amp 24-volt generator.
  • M882 - M881 fitted with additional 60-amp 24-volt generator and communications equipment.
  • M883 - M881 fitted with slide-in shelter kit.
  • M884 - M880 fitted with 100-amp 24-volt generator and slide-in shelter kit with tie-downs.
  • M885 - M880 fitted with slide-in shelter kit with tie-downs.
  • M886 - Ambulance model based on M880.
  • M887 - Maintenance body based on M880.
  • M888 - Telephone maintenance body based on M880.

Two-wheel drive version[edit]

  • M890 - 4×2-wheel drive version of the M880.
  • M891 - M890 fitted with additional 60-amp 24-volt generator.
  • M892 - M890 fitted with additional 60-amp 24-volt generator and communications kit.
  • M893 - 2-wheel drive ambulance version.

General Motors[edit]

A Lithuanian Army M1008 CUCV Pickup

GM produced some 70,000 CUCVs from 1983 to 1986 (model years were 1984-87), though most were model year 1984.

M1000 Series/CUCV I[edit]

GM CUCVs were assembled mostly from heavy duty light commercial truck parts. The CUCVs came in four basic body styles: pickup, utility, ambulance body and chassis cab. The M1008 was the basic cargo truck, the M1010 was the ambulance and the M1009 34-ton utility rig, which was a stripped Blazer uprated to 34-ton capacity. With the exception of the M1009, the trucks were all rated as 114 ton (commonly called a “five-quarter”), even though some of them had payloads in excess of that. There were heavier-duty variants, including the M1028, M1028A1, M1028A2 and M1028A3 shelter carriers, the shelter being a mobile command, communications or intelligence operations enclosure. The M1031 was the chassis cab which was most commonly found in the two door version. These latter trucks were all rated for heavier 3,600 lb (1,600 kg) or 3,900 lb (1,800 kg) loads, compared to the M1008's 2,900 lb (1,300 kg) load capacity. The M1028A2 and A3 models had dual rear wheels. Many M1028s were upgraded at the company level to M1028A2 and A3 specs--the dual wheel rear end arrangement was a result of the M10128 flipping on its side because of the high center of gravity when carrying the equipment shelters.

Chevrolet continued to build CUCVs in low numbers from 1986 to 2000, mainly to accommodate military markets that needed replacements for existing CUCVs.


All CUCVs were powered by GM’s 6.2L J-series Detroit Diesel V8 engine non-emissions diesel. These were rated at 155 hp (116 kW) and 240 lb·ft (325 N·m), which was 5 hp (3.7 kW) more than the emissions diesel engine of the time. They were all equipped with the TH-400 automatic. All but the M1028A1 and M1031 used the NP-208 chain drive transfer case. The M1028A1 and M1031 units had a slip-yoke rear output version of the NP-205, which was specified mainly for its PTO capacity.


The M1009 Blazer used 10-bolt axles (front and rear) featuring 3.08:1 gears. The rear axle was equipped with an Eaton Automatic Differential Lock (ADL) while the front was a standard open differential. The M1008 trucks used open Dana 60 front axles, with the M1028 and M1031 variations often having a Trac-Lok limited slip. In the rear, the M1008s used the GM 10.5-inch (270 mm) 10.5" Corporate 14 Bolt Differential with No-Spin lockers (the commercial trade name for the Detroit Locker). Though the M1028A2 and A3 duallies have Dana 70 HD axles. The axle gear ratios were 4.56:1.


As with other military vehicles, the CUCVs used a 24-volt electrical system. It was actually a hybrid 12/24-volt system that used 24-volts under the hood, complete with dual 100 amp alternators, the mandatory NATO slave receptacle for jump starting any NATO vehicle, and hookups for military radios. The rest of the truck was 12-volt.


  • M1008 - Basic General Motors Model K30903. The M1008 was the most numerous of the CUCV truck types. It was often seen with troop seats for eight in the bed. Fitments included a brush bar, front and rear tow hooks, and a pintle hitch. These trucks are rated to tow 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) and were often used to tow the M101 34-ton trailer.
  • M1008A1 - M1008 fitted with additional 100-amp 24-volt generator and communications kit.
Right Front view M1009 CUCV
Right View M1009 CUCV
  • M1009 - Utility version of the General Motors Chevy K5 Blazer 2nd edition. The M1009 is a utility rig built from a Blazer and could be used for command and control, as well as officer transport. Often seen with radio sets installed, however the large square tube stock mounts prevented the rear seat from being lowered. The M1009 was rated for a 1,200 lb (540 kg) payload and a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) towed load. It used the heaviest duty GM springs available for the chassis and the rear axle was a 10-bolt unit. It rolled on 10.00-15 tires, had 3.08 gears and a rear Eaton ADL.
  • M1010 - Ambulance version of the General Motors Model K30903.
  • M1010 [USMC Command] - USMC command post vehicle.
  • M1010 [USMC Ordnance] - USMC ordnance repair truck.
  • M1028 - Shelter carrier version of the General Motors Model K30903.
  • M1028FF - Fire fighting version of the General Motors Model K30903.
  • M1028A1 - Shelter Carrier w/ PTO version of the General Motors Model K30903.
  • M1031 - Chassis of the General Motors Model K30903. (contact truck)

CUCV I Specifications[edit]

Model years: '84-'87 GM M1008 CUCV

  • Engine: 379ci (6.2L) Detroit Diesel V8 engine
  • Power: 155 hp (116 kW) @ 3600 rpm
  • Torque: 257 lb·ft (348 N·m) @ 2000 rpm
  • Compression Ratio: 21:1
  • Transmission: THM400, 3-speed automatic
  • Transfer Case: NP-208 (unsynchronized)
    • NP-205 Used in trucks requiring PTO
  • Front Axle: Dana 60
    • Most were open except M1028's and M1031's which feature Spicer Trak-lock (limited slip)
  • Rear Axle: 10.5" Corporate 14 Bolt Differential, with a Detroit Locker
    • Dana 70 used in trucks with dual rear wheel modification.
  • Axle Ratio: 4.56:1
  • Wheelbase: 131.5 inches
  • GVW: 8,800 pounds
  • Curb: Weight: 5,900 pounds
  • Tires: 235/85R-16E
  • Fuel Capacity: 20 gallons
  • Fording Depth: 20 inches
  • Approach/Angle: 42 degrees
  • Top Speed: 55 mph (military rating)

CUCV II[edit]

In 1996, Chevrolet decided to start building a new generation of a CUCV to try and regain their market share in this niche. The US Air Force bought small batches of these units, dubbed the CUCV II. These were produced through 2001 and were civilian units sent to another plant for "militarization" on special order. They are basic 3500 SRW trucks that were originally built as white in color with gray vinyl interiors. They then received 383 green CARC exterior paint, a brush bar, a pintle hitch, towing/loading shackles, extra leaf springs installed to give them a 5/4 ton rating and a host of other small changes. All CUCV IIs have a 24 volt dual-battery starting system, The rest of the truck is 12 volt.


When production of the CUCV II ended in 2000, GM redesigned it to coincide with civilian truck offerings. The CUCV nomeclature was changed to Light Service Support Vehicle in 2001. The LSSV is a GM-built Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and is powered by a Duramax 6.6 liter turbo diesel engine. The LSSV was available in a crew cab or standard cab. Militarization of standard GM trucks included exterior changes such as CARC paint (Forest Green, Desert Sand, or 3-color Camouflage), blackout lights, military bumpers, brush guard, NATO slave receptacle, NATO trailer receptacle, pintle hook and shackles. The electrical system was changed to the 24/12 volt military standard. The dashboard had additional controls and dataplates. The truck also could be equipped with weapon supports in the cab, cargo tie down hooks, folding troop seats, pioneer tools, winch, and other military accessories.

The Enhanced Mobility Package (EMP) option added enhanced suspension, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, a locking differential, on/off road beadlock tires, a tire pressure monitoring system and other upgrades. All LSSVs are produced by AM General, a unit of MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings. About 2,000 LSSV units were sold to U.S. and international military and law enforcement organizations.[1]


See also[edit]


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