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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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.

1951 M38

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

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.

Before and after

We were playing Tetris with the Jeeps today to get a 1961 Willys pickup in the shop and the end result was some nice shots of a 1944 Willys MB that awaits restoration, and a finished 1952 M38 resto-rod.Image

I love this shot of the barnfind Jeep seemingly staring at the finished 1952 M38. I can imagine it saying,” that will be me someday….” 🙂ImageImage

It is fun seeing one before anything has been done, and one complete and ready to go home.  And here is the pickup now in the shop 🙂Image

Have fun!! -Merlin

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