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..


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.



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.




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.



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!


Jeeps at Ernie’s

A short while back I posted about vintage Dodge trucks at Ernie Baals’ place.  Now we are going to step back and finish up my visit to Ernie’s with his Jeeps.  The first shot is of a project in his shop.Image

I honestly cannot remember the years of most of them, but I thought folks would enjoy the photos.  The one below was restored by Ernie when he was sixteen and he plans to overhaul it again.Image

Ernie built the Jeep below almost entirely from reproduction parts.  It lasted about 300 miles and chipped a gear.  It sits as of now as a failed experiment and an annoyance to Ernie.Image

If any of you followed or read about our M38 resto rod overhaul (see it here: M38 resto rod ) You know we have seen really screwed up wiring.  Well the Jeep below takes the cake.  I have never seen home lighting switched in a wiring harness.  Kudos to Bubba, you have topped yourself!!ImageImageImage

I had fun sharing stories of Bubbafied Jeeps with Ernie.  He also has found a large amount of old street signs used to rebuild Jeeps.  I started a collection of the street signs we  have removed from Jeeps.

Ernie also has a really nice 1942 GPW that he drives regularly.  I will include it as the grand finale of this post.ImageImageImage

Thanks again to Ernie for helping with the Dodge ambulance project and for showing us around his collection.

Veteran’s jeep up for adoption (1945 Willys MB SOLD)

In 2012 I posted about rebuilding WW2 veteran Joe Tedesco’s Jeep: The Meaning of Memorial Day  Joe sadly passed away last winter. He was a 4th Infantry Division veteran.  A man who survived Operation Tiger, D-Day, and the push across Europe.  He drove a half track with quad fifty anti-aircraft guns mounted on it.Image

In 2011 Joe rolled his jeep and we rebuilt it for him. It is back in the shop now as we tweak final issues from the accident. We replaced the transmission, clutch, pressure plate, pilot bushing and ring gear on the flywheel.  Brakes have been thoroughly addressed and I am further touching up bodywork.Image

The Jeep is a 1945 Willys Mb with a 1941 tub.  The Jeep is named “Kilroy” and Joe kept license plates with that name on the Jeep. The hood numbers are Joe’s id numbers from WW2.


The good: overhauled transmission, new AJP radiator, new clutch and pressure plate, new ring gear on flywheel, rebuilt starter, solid and peppy engine, rust free frame and body, nice 1941 Willys script tub (yes I know the Jeep is a 1945).

The bad: roof is incorrect but serviceable, wiring all works but is a home-made harness, a couple nicks here in there in older body filler (see photos below)

The great: This was the much loved pet of a WW2 veteran and we hope it will go on to another good home.

Photos of our accident repair work are here: Restoration of Kilroy More photos are below:


Horn works and is actuated by a button under the dash, it has been this way since I first met Kilroy.


The photo below shows one detail issue, the internal braces for toolbox latches were bent in the rollover so toolboxes do not latch.


The shot below shows the front of the passenger side fender, the main brace in this fender is bent slightly down.


The shot below is of a chip in the body filler.  I use very little filler in my restoration work but this body has some thicker layers. I sanded alot down when we reworked the body after the accident but there are still a couple spots here and there.


This body and frame have no rust or rust holes.  So Kilroy is very solid, more so than when the veteran first purchased the Jeep. Whomever restored this Jeep originally took some shortcuts which we have eliminated and corrected.

Kilroy just drove over 2 hours this past weekend and did quite well.  At road speeds up to 55 mph there were no wobbles and the brakes are great.

The family seeks $14,000 or best offer for Kilroy.

Reasonable offers will be entertained, unreasonable ones laughed at 🙂 (naaaah, we are not that evil) the vehicle is sold as is, where is, with no guarantees suggested or implied.  email me at if you are interested.  -Merlin

Posing with planes

I finally (after a couple months of chasing various gremlins in the vehicle) delivered the Jeep from the last post to Andover Flight Academy on Saturday. The owner, Damian DelGaizo, teaches using restored vintage aircraft as well as a couple newer planes.  He even flies a beautiful Boeing Stearman trainer from WW2.  Now they have a vintage WW2 Jeep to match it.  Here is a shot of our arrival.


After I unloaded I saw one of the vintage planes take off.  You can see it landing in the background of the photo below.


Most of the planes were out of the hanger soaking up the sun.  I was able to take photos with the Stearman and the Piper J-3 Cub.  Both of these are in remarkable condition.



This Jeep is in a perfect home at a vintage airfield.  The office of Andover Flight is both a museum and a step back in time.  There was quite a collection of photographs and even artifacts from historic flights.  Andover Flight Academy is definitely the place to take lessons if you are anywhere near Andover NJ.  The location is amazingly scenic and Damian obviously has a dedication to the preservation of our aviation history.  I find it all the more impressive that he uses these planes daily. Here is a last photo of the Willys MB snuggled into its new home in the hanger.


It was truly heartwarming to see Damian out testing the Jeep on the flight-line   This Willys Jeep sat out in the weather, neglected, for many years.  To see it alive and speeding along under the guidance of its new owner made the whole effort worthwhile. I could not be prouder of having restored a Jeep for these clients and I hope it provides them years of enjoyment!