Classic Auto Mall
6180 Morgantown Road
1949 Willys Jeepster
Tracking the design history of today's sport utility vehicle is something few will consider thinking about for the next several decades. For many, there's nothing "sporty" about them; they're just gas-sucking behemoths that get the kids from school to soccer practice, and back to the house in time for the latest microwave dinner. Jeep, though guilty of manufacturing such uninspiring machines today, once had a very different vision of the sport utility. As evidence we present the Jeepster, first introduced to the public on April 3, 1948, as a sporty vehicle that a growing family could have fun with.
For consignment a 1949 Jeepster that is a two-wheel-drive convertible designed by Brooks Stevens. Stevens and Willys hoped that returning World War II GIs would scoop up these fun-loving drop tops as soon as they rolled off the assembly line. They are perhaps one of the most overlooked, but interesting, vehicles in the storied off-road maker's past: a sporty automobile rather than an off-road vehicle, never offered with four-wheel drive or in any commercial guises during the four-year stint. This open bodied car, an ever-increasing rarity as the Fifties nearedalso has a spot in history as the last true phaeton offered by a major manufacturer. This completely restored rust free version is a must see for any Jeep aficionado.
The beneficiary of a frame off restoration, all rust is gone, and new steel replaces problem areas. A beautiful Pastel Aqua now covers these panels, which are fairly straight, and have good gaps. Chrome is all polished and shiny with no signs of deterioration. A nicely preserved chromed "T" bar front grille embellishment sets off the standard Jeep looking front of this car? A black window surround as well as a black above the belt line painted bodywork goes nicely with the new black convertible top complete with side panels. Chromed dog dish wheel covers with just a hint of pastel aqua steel wheels underneath showing, are wrapped with wide whites. At the back of this vehicle is an additional hanging spare tire. Interestingly the rear bumper sports Willys Overlander script, which prior to the end of the run they were stopped by a lawsuit form the federal government by being sued over the use of Overlander?
A bit of a climb up the chromed steps in front of the rear fender, then on the top of the fender, but it will be worth it, as this is a really fun driver. Front seats are split and have a 75/25 configuration as to seat back width. Black vinyl covers all the seating surfaces and is in pristine condition. Doors are painted as body works and have a black cardboard like panel screwed on to them. The metal dash also in Pastel Aqua, has a chromed rectangular dash insert with the gauge cluster. A nice plastic white steering wheel complete with circular horn ring, fronts the dash. Beautiful black carpeting is shown throughout and is protected by rubber floor mats.
Floating within a well sorted out and restored engine bay is the Go Devil flat inline 4-cylinder engine. It has a black cylinder so based on Willys folklore and some fact, this car was tuned for the below 5000 ft level of altitude version. A 1-barrel carburetor sits proudly to the side and a 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive that can be used in 2nd and 3rd gears. Plenty of room for wrenching if need be.
Very clean, virtually rust free, and any repairs were made under here, it is hard to spot them. A sturdy X frame helps with the overall structural stability with the lack of a solid top. Transverse leaf springs up front for the suspension, and leaf springs on the rear, and drum brakes for all 4 corners.
As consigner states "pump the sh*! of the accelerator, choke it and it will start" so I used this exact procedure and it worked like a charm! Rolled right over, idled very smoothly, and off we went. Drives great, and the top down was an extra bonus. It will not take your toupee off, but it will get you there, and supposedly the history of the Go Devil engine proves it extremely reliable and durable. It handled well to boot and was most definitely a fun drive that will turn heads.
A wonderful piece of automotive history, all buttoned up on the body work, undercarriage, and engine. Not to mention the spacious and comfortable interior, this snazzy little post war pre SUV Jeepster is simply a blast...from the past.
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