When the first auto transmission was put in a Wrangler, it wasn't even called a Wrangler yet. It was actually one of the predecessors to the current wrangler, the CJ7. The transmission that was used, the TH400, was first used in the 1976 Jeep CJ7 (the CJ7's debut year), in front of the Borg Warner 13-39 Quadratrac transfer case. (The 13-39 is full time 4×4 with low range) The "Jeep" TH400 is actually a Chevy transmission and it shares the same internal components with the true TH400, but this particular one had a unique bellhousing and case to allow it to mate with the AMC engine block bolt pattern. The Jeep TH400 will not bolt up to any standard small block Chevy bolt pattern without adapters.
American Motor Co, (AMC) the parent co. of Jeep at the time is famous, or rather notorious, for using whatever parts they could find, no matter who made them. There’s a standing joke that AMC stands for All Manufacturers Components, for that reason.
After use of the TH400 began in 76, it was discontinued in 1979.
In 1980 and ending with the final CJ7 in 1986 the TF904 and TF909 became options behind the 4cyl engines. (The 909 is a 904 with TC lockup). The 6cyl's got the TF999 during that period.
After that (the 1992-1995 YJ era) the 30RH, 3 speed split gears behind 2.5L 4cly’s
In 1992 the 32RH 3 speed, found a home under YJ Wrangler sheet metal and was used until 2003 in the TJ, when it was replaced by the 4 speed, 42RLE that is still in use behind the 3.8L V6 in the JK.
Because of AMCs, “whatever we can get” mentality, this carried over into the early in the Chrysler – Jeep days until Chrysler was able to straighten things out. As such, these production years (much more so from the mid 80’s to early 90’s when AMC was taken over and Chrysler took the reigns) are a little fuzzy. I’ve seen odd combinations of engine and transmissions in years that were not official production years for them.
It was in 1994.
You can get current Jeep Wranglers with an auto and 4×4, as well as the previous model – the TJ (1997 to 2006) with automatics as well AND the YJ – it has been an option for around 20 years.
Only the current JK is available in 2wd (unless you're buying a postal jeep), so any automatic you find will will be 4×4. Obviously, the newer the better, so look for a JK or a later model TJ – maybe 2003 to 2006.
Me!! – read the entire article before you answer next time.