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Willys Jeep

Willys Jeep Published: 3rd Aug 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Willys Jeep
Willys Jeep
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Willys Jeep


One of the most instantly recognisable vehicles ever built, which saw active service with the military in numerous theatres of war around the world starting with WW2. Ownership of a Jeep nowadays is tantamount to being custodian of a piece of military history with vehicles being restored in numerous guises. To add authenticity many owners delight in dressing the part too, by donning period uniforms when displaying at military vehicle shows.


1940 Quartermaster Corps sent out an invitation to no less than 135 American car manufacturers to tender for a new 4x4 quarter-ton vehicle, with a prototype needing to be delivered in a seemingly impossibly short time of only 75 days!
1941 The contract went to Willys who had lowered its price to $739, but Ford also got to build Willys Jeeps under licence and these became known as the Ford GPW, with huge parts interchangeability. Benjamin Hotchkiss built Jeeps between 1955 to 1966 for the French government. All told some half a million Jeeps were made worldwide.


The Jeep was designed as a very basic go anywhere vehicle, with creature comforts never high on the list of priorities with thinly padded seat squabs and backs. You will feel every bump in the road which is transmitted through the steering wheel, and if it’s wet, they can slide about due to the tyre tread pattern, but they’re great off road! Although equipped with hydraulic brakes, stopping is not one of the Jeeps strongest points. Top speed is about 55mph, but a steady 45mph will result in a more comfortable drive.


Condition and authenticity are the main watchwords and there are several derivatives of the basic theme. Although hardly the real thing later Jeep Wranglers enjoy the same character of the original but with – sort of – added refinement and civility.


During recent years Jeep prices have soared up due to the many commemorative war time anniversaries with vehicles in demand for attending rallies. Expect to pay £6000 for a rough model, 15K for a fair one and £25K top examples. Cliff Harris who runs Jeep specialist T.S. Autos (01483 860403). Jeepparts UK is also hugely knowledgeable; 01743 762266.


The good news about owning and running a Jeep is that virtually everything is still available and you could almost build one from scratch using genuine and pattern parts but it’s a costly business. Common areas of corrosion are around the side steps and lower extremities of the tub, the front floor pan, supports for the front floor, and inside the rear tool lockers are pretty robust and are not boxed in, so you can easily spot corrosion and see their state of structural integrity. If the tub is beyond practical repair, this is not a problem as a replacement will cost around £1500. A full body/tub kit is a not unreasonable £1850.

The side valve engines enjoy reasonable longevity, but listen for timing chain rattle on tick-over which will disappear when the engine is revved. The block can suffer from cracks and water leaks, especially in the areas above and below the distributor unit. Gearbox can be quite noisy, leaks oil, and if well worn can jump out of second gear.
A replacement gearbox and transfer case assembly is £850 and clutch kit is £75. Front axles suffer from wheel wobble which can be attributed to the pre-load on the bearings on the swivels.


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