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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8th Annual Mason Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering

This show has become such a part of the year for me that I keep thinking it has gone on for much longer.  Mike Hardesty had the idea for this show after attending the Great Willys Picnic and realizing that there was nothing like it in our area.

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There was quite a lineup of Willys Jeeps in all conditions from fully restored to as found condition. Seth King’s CJ2A with an awesome dually rear caps off this row.

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One of my annual favorites, an orange Jeep, belongs to Dan Lorenz.  I love the Jeep because of the story behind it. This was a jeep that he and a friend owned back in the 1970’s, he has photos of them taking it hunting out in Colorado.

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They sold it in the early 1980’s probably expecting to never see it again.  Then a few years back his buddy was at a farm auction and a vintage Jeep was on the listing.  He found it with a tree growing through the floor, and recognized the modifications he and Dan had made.  (not the tree of course!)

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IMG_1466Dan did a wonderful job of bringing the Jeep back to life and brings it to the mason Dixon show as well as the All Breeds jeep show in York, PA.  He has even taken it back out west and photographed in locations he took shots of it back in the 1970’s.

Kyle of East Coast Willys brought his FC again and this time it had friends.

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Bill Reiss of Limestreet Carriage drove the red one all the way from their shop in Lancaster, PA.  At the end of the day the Limestreet crew lined up their Willys vehicles and headed home with the FC in the lead.

There were a good amount of parts vendors this year, new parts as well as many folks with used restorable parts for a variety of projects. Over by the parts vendors was this CJ6 with only 3600 miles on it.  Sadly the low mileage did not preserve the body of the Jeep. (This is what I was told at least.)

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IMG_1452There was a nice array of military vehicles.  I had my battered slat grill out for the day and it had some WW2 buddies to hang out with along with a recently finished M38.

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I set out a display of original dealer literature and posters along with this display of new old stock tools from WW2.  The pliers, adjustable wrench, and hacksaw all came from a fellow who served as an Army mechanic in WW2 through Korea.  When he left the service they gave him a toolbox packed with n.o.s. tools. And yes, that is an original drain plug tool.

IMG_1456I was extremely proud of our friend and volunteer shop assistant, Peter Tata. he worked his butt off to put together the rolling chassis of his Ford GPW to show in the projects section.

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IMG_1447As always it was a wonderful gathering of the jeep family.  I had time to chat with old friends and make new ones like Roger Martin who was in the area to work on an ancient Caterpillar grader.

The weather treated us well and the jeeps sat warmly in the fall sun.  Any proceeds from the show are donated to Unions Mills Homestead who graciously host us every year.  Money was also put aside for fellow Jeeper Glenn Harrington who had a stroke last spring.  It will be a happy day when we see him at a show again.

If you have not made it to this show yet, make sure it is on your schedule for next year.

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Mason Dixon Jeep gathering 2013: The CJ’s

This past Sunday I attended my favorite Jeep show of the year. The Mason Dixon show is only a few minutes from my house in Westminster Maryland. Below are the show winners for this year.Image

Most Jeep shows this year have had a few less attendees.  We had a couple less Jeeps this year but the showing was still fantastic.  Mike Hardesty did a nice job not only of organizing the show, but of arranging for beautiful weather. The showing of vintage CJ’s was wonderful bringing out a colorful array of restored and unrestored Jeeps.Image

Mike Hardesty’s yellow CJ3A begins the line in the above photo.  The orange one belongs to Dan, it has a heck of a story.  He and a buddy used to take it hunting in Colorado in the 1970s.  They drove it, modified it and in the 1980s sold it.  Dan’s friend found it for sale with a tree growing through it at a farm auction a few years back.  It made its way home to Dan and his family and has been out hunting again since.Image

The Jeeps I like the most are well loved, well used and unrestored.  The nice example below is a former brush truck.Image

My favorite was this 1946 CJ2A barnfind brought by Lime Street Carriage, LLC.  It had been off the road since 1971.  A basic mechanical going over brought it back to life and the road again.Image

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Mike Gardner’s 1945 CJ2A was present as well.  Look for Mike on youtube if you have not seen his offroad videos.  Mike brought this CJ back to life from being a total rustbucket, and drives it like it was meant to be driven.  I know I drive my 1941 alot, but I believe Mike has me cleanly beat.Image

Below Mike imparts Jeep wisdom to my friend and assistant, Peter.Image

One of my favorite Jeep creations at the show was this chair brought by Kyle of East Coast Willys. I must make one of these… sadly I gave away alot of my spare Jeep grills.Image

Keep an eye out for my next post, I will cover the Military lineup from the show and the trucks and wagons that attended.  until then, drive your Jeep!!!

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The M38 makes a friend

We have been working on a 1952 Willys M38 for a while now and it is finally on the road.  There were MANY Bubbafications that we had to work through (goopy paint, bad welds, destroyed pedals, a V6 needing a proper cooling system etc..).  In the end it has been worth it.

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My mechanic, John, was taking the M38 for a test run the other day after our third attempt to get the brake system working properly.  When he turned around in a driveway a fellow waved him down and pulled over.  It turns out the man owns a CJ3A.  He and John talked for a bit and the fellow said he would bring his Jeep by the shop for us to check out.  He was having a couple issues with it.

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His name is Marty and this CJ3A was his first car! I love it when folks still have their first car.  The CJ3A is beautiful and I enjoyed having a chance to drive it. We had fun showing Marty our projects and going over his Jeep.  I hope we were able to help him with a couple minor issues. It was really nice meeting a new Jeep friend.

As I always say, drive your Jeep!! You find other jeeps, make new friends, and your Jeep is happy to be on or off the road.

For more photos of our work on the M38 go here: M38 restoration