Classic Auto Mall
6180 Morgantown Road
1949 Willys Jeep
The first quarter ton, four-wheel drive reconnaissance truck "pilot model" produced for the U.S. Army was built by the American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pa. It was delivered for testing to Camp Holabird in Baltimore on Sept. 23, 1940. Subsequent designs by Willys-Overland and Ford while important were refinements on this original U.S. Army and American Bantam concept. Ultimately Willys secured the lion's share of the contract from the Government mainly due to its engine which was developed from an L134 Go Devil engine.
For consignment a 7-passenger van in Willys Jeep style with a rare jump seat in back. Some recent new chrome plating, and a two-tone paint job, and a refurbished interior finished off just this year. A wonderful boxy look for the body styling and of course the iconic Jeep grille.
Prior to the war, woody station wagons were expensive hand-crafted wood paneled luxury vehicles, but that would all change thanks to designer Brooks Stevens. Willys-Overland wanted their new product-line to leverage on the "jeep" success. The answer for 1946: the Willys-Overland all-steel, two-door, two-wheel drive "Station Wagon" with a "woody-look. It was a hit, finally a woody for masses! This model is bathed in bone white with the green "paneled" woody style box on the back. One of the most distinctive elements of the "Jeep" design is the flat slotted grill with integrated headlights - for this - Ford gets the credit. Ford's Pilot Model GP- No. 1 "Pygmy" featured a flat grille with integrated headlights delivered to the U.S. Army on Nov. 23, 1940. From thirteen slots (1940), to nine slots (1941), to seven slots (1945) - that's the history of the iconic "Jeep" grille. A nicely re-plated bumper on front with extra chromed tube style uppers is on and in back a beautifully curved and re-plated bumper with Willys script badge in the center in black. Just above is a hinged upwardly mobile lift gate window, and below is the downwardly mobile hinged tailgate. The body is mostly excellent although I can note some cracking and waviness around the front wheel wells. Wheels are red painted steel, and sport nice trim rings and center moon caps shiny and bright. All corners are wrapped in wide whites for that late 40's look.
A swing of the simple doors and we can see some tweed broadcloth in light and dark brown screwed on panels all surrounded by the greed trim color of the exterior. A push button actuator with a chromed bezel and a central bakelite button opens the doors. Shiny cranks and well-preserved armrests are here too. Inside, a green smooth vinyl 80/20 front bench is noted with the larger seat in front of the steering wheel and into the center. A jump seat is on the passenger's side. These present nice and clean, with no tears and some white piping to highlight them. Rubber floors are all over in front, and a metal base with wood slats hold the remainder of the seating (another 80/20 bench) then the rear jump seat making room for the 7. Headliner is white and clean, and the remaining seats are all excellent. The jump seat in the back is brown vinyl. A square dash panel in the center houses all original gauges and some of the insulation within the glass has pooled on the bottom of this gauge cluster.
Under the hood is a fully restored engine bay and engine. A pristine orange block in its 148ci inline 6-cylinder form sits in the middle. This is fed by an oil bath cleaned 1-barrel carburetor, and has a 3-speed manual transmission on back complete with overdrive. The rear axle weighs in at 5.38 gear ratio. A nice lack of many add-ons and certainly no emissions to clog this engine, one could nearly step inside and work on the engine there is that much open space! By the way, this engine has new main bearings and new front and rear seals.
On our lift we see solid black rust free steel framing and suspension. Primer red floor pans are like new particularly for the passengers and the bed. The bottom end of the engine shows nary even a drip and is ultra clean. Our consigner states it's a remanufactured transmission with overdrive, and a new clutch was installed in 2020.
It started with ease, and on the test track had smooth acceleration with no breakneck power, but it gets you from point A to point B. I noticed the brake light was non functioning, and the truck has a very hard pull to the left under heavy braking, hence a bias adjustment is in its future. All else was working and there were several upgrades and redos in 2020.
A piece of history from a Government war contract to a very popular vehicle among the civvies, this 7 passenger two tone painted all steel Willys is a nice throwback to the early Jeep history, fully operational and looking very "Jeepy!"
663-Willys Jeep Station Wagon
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