So you want an early Jeep??

Every now and then I receive an email from someone who loves the look, feel and sound of the early Jeeps, and would like one to tool around with reliably and keep in their garage.  And they are a nice, reliable antique vehicle to have as any Jeeper reading this knows.

Well I received another one of these emails a couple days ago and started to reply and then realized I may as well write the reply up as a brief primer on early Jeeps.  I am sure this will replicate what many folks have written, and if I am wrong about something then for the love of all that is good and holy please correct me.  But this is just a very basic piece to introduce those who are thinking of an early Jeep to their various options, the costs etc..

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The WW2 Jeep (MB/ GPW)

These were made from 1941 to 1945.  Willys Made the MB, Ford made the GPW with the goal for all parts to be interchangeable.

They are darn cool and everyone wants one.  The reenactors want one so they can carry their gear, maybe mount a machine gun and drive in reenactments and parades.  Plus they fit in a regular garage unlike a half track or a truck.  The military history buffs want them for similar historical reasons and so they can drive a piece of the machine that helped win the war.  The Jeepers want one because it’s the first Jeep.

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What does this mean?  They are expensive as heck.  When folks approach me about restoring one I usually work with them to find an older restoration that we can overhaul and make new and spiffy again.  This can cost less than shelling out upwards of $15,000 for a really nice one.  (and definitely costs less than a $25,000 or more restoration).

So we know they are cool and expensive.  Happily due to their popularity almost everything is available for them.  The main downside I find to them is the somewhat finicky T-84 transmission though once they are rebuilt right and settled in they seem to do quite well.  Another issue I run into is the fuel system which involves many connected lines and hoses which allow for leaks to sneak in and then you lose fuel to the carburetor.

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The CJ2A 

These were the first production civilian Jeep built from 1945 to 1949.  They do not have all the grab handles, tool mounts, jerry cans and other such bells and whistles.  But you can add power takes offs as they were designed to run all sorts of farming implements  (as shown in this video with friend Mike Hardesty’s Cj3A)

They are down to earth utilitarian machines which are the same amount of fun off-road as a WW2 Jeep.  As the first civilian Jeep these are quite popular, and the black model pictured is a somewhat early one with parking lights inset into the grill.

The CJ2A’s have the T-90 transmission which is bulletproof.  They are simpler than the T-84 and a bit easier to work on.  The fuel system is simpler too providing a more reliable feed with less lines and hoses bopping about through the engine compartment.

A CJ2A in nice shape can run around $5,000 to $10,000 depending on what you are looking for.  Many folks modify these as well for off roading like this one restored and modified by Mike Gardner.

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The CJ3A

The CJ3A was the next modification of the flat fender running the same four cylinder engine.  These were produced from 1948 to 1953. There were some changes for growing Americans like the seat was moved a wee bit further back.  And there was an air vent in the windshield!! (this is far more exciting if you have a top and doors on the Jeep).  A fun slightly customized example is Dan’s CJ3A.  The prices on these run similar to the CJ2A’s

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The M38

This model was produced from 1950 to 1952. This was the last military version of the Willys Jeep using the venerable and reliable L head flat four.  These have the desirability of being a military vehicle, and the reliability of the flat four and the T-90.  Due to the dual desirability factor prices on these can run similar to the prices of WW2 Jeeps.

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They have a slightly different dash than the CJ3A, and they do have a bunch of the cool wizbangs and gadgets you expect on a military vehicle (tool mounts, special light switch, handles etc..).  M38’s were produced as a 24 volt vehicle but many that you find nowadays are converted to 12 volt.  The engine compartment is more complicated than a CJ3A as there were modifications for military specifications.

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Parts are readily available for all of these models through a variety of specialty companies. Around the country there are several early Jeep shops that can help you restore or maintain your flat fender.  Thus the parts and support are out there.

Whichever model you choose, they are great fun to have, and like no other classic car.

(in the shot below are Henry Welch’s and then Bill Reiss’s Jeeps with my 1941 in the mix on an outing)

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A million Jeeps

Well, not really a million.  But there were a heckuva alot of them.  I had a chance this week to travel with a friend to see the Top Kicks Military Museum in Petersburg, West Virginia. If you are a Jeep fan and want to see alot of Jeeps this is one place to go with an owner who has dedicated his time since 1982 to saving and preserving what seems like as many Jeeps a he could find.

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I had a chance to go through the Jeeps inside and out.  Gerald Bland restored many of these, and went through all of the engines.  He keeps them pickled but ready to go.  From what I found a battery and some gas will start these Jeeps right up and send them out into the wild.  I was particularly fond of a row of Civilian Jeeps with US Navy dataplates, two CJ3A’s and one 3B.  You do not see these too often.

20150716_121105[1]There was a nice array of World War 2 Jeeps as well, many with photos of how they were found, and of the restoration process.  The effort Gerald went to to save the Jeeps and other WW2 vehicles is quite impressive.

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Among the World war 2 Jeeps were some nicely dressed examples as they may have rolled through Europe, some early script examples, a slat grill, and a Navy Jeep with PTO driven generator for radio equipment.

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The Jeeps continued up through the M151 era. As if Jeeps were not enough there were a wide array of other vehicles from World War 2 through the 1970s. These were in a variety of conditions from ready to drive inside the museum to peacefully slumbering under a blanket of patina outside on the museum grounds.

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The museum also has displays of weapons, uniforms and equipment.  Gerald is wonderful to talk with and has a passion for history.  Make sure to take the trip and visit soon as gems like this museum will not be around forever.  Also, if you want to see many more photos from the museum collection be sure to follow us on Hanson Mechanical’s Instagram as we will post many more photos there.

Thanks for being a great host Gerald!

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Model T’s Visit Hanson Mechanical

I have loved antique cars since I was very little.  One of the first cars I fell in love with and obsessed over was the Model T Ford.  I loved that for most of the time they were produced they were only made in black, I loved how many were made, I loved the look and the sound of them, I loved how a blacksmith could repair them.  Sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ house when I was nine I remember watching a documentary on PBS about the Model T which just furthered my obsession.

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I met Mike Silbert of the Model T Ford Club a while back at a car show.  He has what I consider a beautifully preserved Model T which he brought back to running condition but otherwise kept as it was found in the barn that fell on it.  A layer of spar varnish keeps its rust brown coating intact and dents and dings remain.  Mike put together a Model T tour in Carroll County and asked if our restoration shop could be the first stop on the tour.  Initially I hesitated as the Great Willys Picnic in Kempton, PA was the same day, but I see Jeeps all the time, how often do I see twenty Model T’s all in one place? And we also have a perfect field for them all to pull into.

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Better yet I soon found out that Mike was going to let myself and friend Peter ride along for the day.  The nine year old me was very excited, it was like Christmas!!  The day came and Peter and I sat on stumps outside the gate to the shop waiting and it truly was a beautiful thing as the Model T’s rolled in one after the other to our field.  An added bonus was seeing that friends I reenact with were there with their 1913 Depot Hack.  One of my favorite types of vintage cars.

The day before the model T’s arrived I met our shop neighbor, Ira Barnes, who gave us permission to explore his collection next door.

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IMG_1824The Barnes collection is amazing but I will not post a variety of the photos I took as I do NOT want folks to bother them.  They were very gracious to allow us to explore their place.  After we gathered everyone up from seeing the restoration shop and the Barnes collection we hit the road and headed to Hampstead.

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In Hampstead the Model T’s caught up with each other and gathered for lunch.  There was only one casualty at that point, a T that lost high gear (explaining the workings of a Model T is a whole instuctional video or blog post in itself, so let’s just say without high gear the T went very slow.).

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After lunch we regathered the forces and headed out on the road again.  There were some beautiful old dirt and gravel roads just off the beaten path that we drove on as we rode to the farm museum in Westminster.

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Boog Rd was a real timewarp as it was a narrow gravel road traveling between farms and houses, and right through yards.  From there we were back onto main roads, and soon we traveled Gorsuch Rd into Westminster, honking at some very entertained donkeys on the way (we passed them going to Hampstead and the moment we honked they came running out of their shed all excited about the odd noise!).

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We finally gathered up again at the farm museum, T’s trickling in and catching up.  Peter and I needed to head back to the shop and Mike offered to give me a driving lesson.  We stopped over at Westminster high and did some training in their parking lot.  Mike then asked if I wanted to drive his T back to the shop.  And so I did with him guiding me on how to think ahead and really plan out the drive safely.  I cannot say thanks enough to Mike for taking us along and letting me drive.  It was truly a fun day (despite the sunburn!) The last shot is of me at the wheel :)  I missed seeing my Jeep friends at the picnic, but I am extremely glad I did not pass up this opportunity!

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1942 Mercedes found and for sale cheap

I visited my hometown AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) swap meet today.  As usual I was strolling along looking for Willys stuff.  I found some nice Willys Advertisements and then a fellow told me about the 1942 Mercedes for sale, so I had to take a look.

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By the time I was taking photos of it one fellow had already offered the owner $6,000.00 and explained how he would turn it into a street rod…… please for the love of all that is good and holy no!!!!

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This is a very straight car. The interior was redone at some point but it is all there and runs well.  Apparently the engine was rebuilt at as well.

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The only rust is surface rust.  All wood is around the windows though covered in some woodgrain vinyl.  This looks like someone touched it up in the 1960s or 1970s.  The main thing this car suffers from is some later add-ons like turn signal lights, and abuse from having sat outside for 15 or more years.  However I saw no bondo signs.  IMAG1588This car is a perfect restoration candidate.  I hope someone sees this and saves it from a horrible fate as a street rod.  The price and phone number form the windshield are below.  If this really is a 1942 it is quite a deal on a wartime German car. Whether you use it as a WW2 staff car or restore it down to every detail anything is better than seeing something so complete and solid cut up.

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One civilian owner M38 for sale

Every now and then a time capsule appears, these are jeeps or other antique cars that have a history to them, usually a limited ownership record, and were well cared for. The photos here were taken a couple years ago but this Jeep has changed little since then.

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This M38 rolled off the line in 1951. After a stint in the Army it went on loan to the post office in Philadelphia.  Then it went to auction in 1953 and its current owner, Joe, purchased it.

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Joe had to install a new engine in the M38 to get it rolling again after purchase. Since then he has collected spare parts for it, kept the M38 in a garage and used it for winter snow plowing.

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The M38 still runs a 24 volt system, and was not bent or damaged by the snowplow.  Joe has the original paperwork from the Army for the jeep, as well as a collection of spare parts.  He even has the original top bows and top.

Joe is selling the M38 now, and is looking for $9500 or best offer.  If you are interested drop me a note using the contact information in our restoration shop section.  The Jeep is in Merchantville, NJ.

have fun!!! -Merlin

Get me to the church on time

Sometimes a person has a request that is so amazing you cannot say no.  This was just that case.  A while back Elizabeth contacted me looking for a Jeep for her upcoming wedding.

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Apparently with the birth of their son a few months before they decided to sell her now husband, Tom’s Jeep. It was battered but they loved it.  I showed her pictures of mine and mentioned I could find nicer ones. In memory of their old Jeep she decided on using the well loved ’41.

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This was to be a surprise for Tom. It was her idea since he loves jeeps so much.  Honestly, who could not help with a request like that?

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And he was surprised! It was worth the effort just for his reaction. “Where did you find that” he asked her after staring for a minute.  This was a truly memorable and different way to end a wedding. Even their son seems to be a Jeep guy, he was hamming it up standing behind the steering wheel and playing with the stick shift like he knew how to drive.

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I was honored to be part of their special day and I wish all three of them the best.

Bob’s Barnfinds

Some antique cars work to find their way home to my friend Bob Kurland’s shop. In 2012 Bob received a call from a crack head (literally, it was proven in court). The crackhead said he had an antique car in the garage and wanted to sell it to Bob for $400.00.  Bob packed up the flatbed and headed into Baltimore.

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Bob said when he reached the house he had to back the flatbed through a fence,” it was like threading a needle while wearing a baseball glove.” He opened the garage and saw the drivers side window was broken as the crackhead could not figure out how to open the door.  The crackhead had also removed the car battery using a hacksaw.

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The crackhead came out and signed a receipt for the sale of the car then Bob headed on his way.  As he looked in the rearview mirror Bob kept thinking that the car looked familiar. Finally he took it to a carwash and sprayed the car down, it looked like new with all the dust removed.desoto01

The interior was in perfect condition, even the fold down interior wooden cargo bed.

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As Bob cleaned the car an oil change tag on the driver’s side door caught his attention.  He looked down and saw that he was the last mechanic to do an oil change on this very car.  His signature was still on the sticker.

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Bob remembered an old man who used to work at a Desoto dealership.  The fellow used to bring the car to his shop for maintenance and other work.  After the last oil change they never saw him again. When Bob went to file for a salvage title he found that the car was listed as stolen and then he learned the rest of the story.

The old man’s daughter was ecstatic to find that Bob had the car and it was not scrapped. She told Bob that her father passed away shortly after that last oil change and the car had sat in the garage since then.  She visited the car weekly until it disappeared and she figured her crackhead nephew had scrapped it. She met with Bob and gave him all her father’s photo albums and records pertaining to the car.  The car had found its way back to its mechanic and she was happy with that.

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Fast forward to a month or two ago and Bob was at a gas station with the Desoto.  An old lady came up to him and explained that her husband had passed away, and would Bob be interested in seeing her husbands Pontiac.

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The 1941 Pontiac had been sitting in the barn for 15 years. The price was extremely fair so Bob brought it home.

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The original oil change coupons and owner’s manual were in the glovebox, and original tools in the trunk.

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Bob gave it a change of fluids, bled the brakes and started driving it.  We went for a ride today and I was really impressed with this survivor. These old cars seem to like to come out of their snug retirement homes so Bob can put them on the road again.  Thanks for the ride Bob!!.

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