Willys-Overland Jeepster · The original Willys-Overland Jeepster ... After World War II, the Jeep...
Transcript of Willys-Overland Jeepster · The original Willys-Overland Jeepster ... After World War II, the Jeep...
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photo ©2012 Michael Nelson.
The original Willys-Overland Jeepster (“VJ” internally) was produced from 1948 through 1950, although some leftover models were sold under the 1951 model year. After World War II, the Jeep trademark owner, Willys, believed that the market for the military-type Jeep would be limited to farmers and foresters, there-fore they began producing the “CJ” (or Civilian Jeep) to fill this growing segment as well as producing the new Jeep Wagon in 1946, and then the Jeep Truck in 1947.
Realizing a gap in their product line up, Willys devel-oped the Jeepster to crossover from their “utilitar-ian” type truck vehicles, to the passenger automoile market. The car was originally only offered with rear-wheel drive, thus limiting its appeal to traditional Jeep customers. While its distinctive boxy styling (created by industrial designer Brooks Stevens) was a hit with critics, it did not catch on with the public. Sales were also limited by sparse advertising and a high price ($1,765). In the end, only 19,132 VJ Jeepsters were pro-
duced (1948 - 10,326; 1949 - 2,960; 1950 - 5,836).The 62 horsepower “Go Devil” engine powered the
Jeepster – a 134 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4 also used in the CJ. A 3-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive was used, as were drum brakes on all four wheels. The vehicle’s front end and single transverse leaf spring suspension were from the Willys Station Wagon, as was the rear driveline. The flat-topped rear fenders were copied from the Jeep truck line. So was the pair of longitudinal rear leaf springs.
The 1948 Jeepster was built on a Willys chassis and began production with a one-model/one-engine
offering. Due to poor marketing, high price and weak performance sales were low and few were produced. The following year the VJ-3 was produced. This time there were two engines offered, - the original 4 cylinder and the Lightning-equipped six-cylinder. In 1950, there was a redesigned front end and there were four engines offered – two 4-bangers and two 6s. The hood and grille also put the V in VJ in 1950, when the design took on that shape.
The story of this 1949 Willys Jeepster will not surprise anyone who has purchased a vehicle on eBay. It is more often than not a bad idea, and this was no exception. The
by Joseph Quattrocchi
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photo ©2012 Michael Nelson.
owner paid $15,000 for this car, including free ship-ping from the West Coast. The seller, a car dealer in San Diego, listed the car as “drives great…just jump in it and drive it away.” When it arrived in Connecti-cut, the bright yellow paint had hundreds of cracks, indicating a lot of bondo – which is never a good sign. Additionally, the car had virtually no brakes and it was difficult to shift. The interior was in rough shape and it smelled as if it hadn’t been driven in a long time. The eBay seller assured the owner that he would “take care of things” and then began the
classic “run around.” The buyer did not realize that eBay’s warranty on auto sales is only good for 60 days. (I guess the seller did.) So after a few months of unreturned phone calls, the seller finally told the buyer he wasn’t going to do anything for him. So, a few lessons about buying cars on eBay – 1) Don’t and 2) if you do, you only have 2 months to resolve any issues, so contact eBay as soon as you believe the car was misrepresented or you have any other problems with the transaction.
Notwithstanding the bad buying experience, the guy owned the car and wanted it to be a nice driver. He brought it to Wheels of Time for a “paint job.”
Of course, once the paint was removed the mess under the paint was revealed. Additionally, the owner decided that if the entire body was going to be repaired and repainted (the correct “daffodil yellow”) he might as well re-do the interior, the top frame and get a new convertible top.
The restoration took almost a year, but the wait was worth it. Along with its correct daffodil yellow paint, the Jeepster now features the correct color interior – burgundy. The top and boot are black canvas with burgundy piping. The engine was
tuned, a new clutch installed along with all new brakes and brake and gas lines. The owner has driven it to Hyannis and back and the little daf-fodil Jeepster spends its summers in Nantucket. It
could be worse!
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