JEEP REVIVAL

WITH A NEW WRANGLER ON ITS WAY WE TAKE A LESSON IN JEEP HISTORY, AS WE VISIT THE MOST COMPLETE SEVEN-SLOT GRILLE COLLECTION ON THE PLANET.

WORDS AND PHOTOS CHRIS COLLARD

JEEP HERITAGE MUSEUM, GEORGIA, USA EXPLORE

WITH A NEW WRANGLER ON ITS WAY WE TAKE A LESSON IN JEEP HISTORY, AS WE VISIT THE MOST COMPLETE SEVEN-SLOT GRILLE COLLECTION ON THE PLANET.

WITH a legacy dating back three-quarters of a century, the Jeep is one of the world’s most iconic vehicle platforms. From the US government’s initial call for a four-wheel drive light personnel carrier in 1940 to pioneering the Rubicon Trail in the 1950s and setting the standard of 21st century off-road capability, the seven-slot grille has a place, not only in the hearts of Americans, but with backcountry enthusiasts the world over.

During the recent recession when the brand was struggling financially, it closed its museum and, unfortunately, liquidated its inventory. It was an economic necessity at the time, but gone was one of the most comprehensive Jeep collections on the planet. All is not lost: a few years ago the guys at Omix-ADA (Rugged Ridge/ Alloy USA) began acquiring rare models with a plan to create a museum of their own.

During the past decade they scoured the World Wide Web in search of well-preserved models ranging from prototype Ford GPs and Willys MAs, to CJ-7s and Jeepsters. Prior to the passing of Jeeping legend Mark A. Smith, they purchased much of his collection with the promise that the fleet would stay together, have a permanent home, and be shared with the public. If restoration was required, they approached each undertaking with an end in mind: to bring it back to near-assembly-line condition.

Fortunately, the Omix-ADA warehouse is stacked to its 50-foot ceiling with thousands of new and old stock parts. Need an OE 1946 Willys 2A hood or XJ body panel? No worries, it’s probably in stock. We took a tour of their 250,000-square-foot facility and were beside ourselves with the number of vintage OE parts they carry.

As with all articles of antiquity, classic Jeeps should be shared with future generations. Upholding their promise to Mark, and feeding their passion for the seven-slot grille, the collection was assembled and given a dedicated portion of their building. I recently joined Dave Logan, Omix-ADA’s sales training manager and Jeep aficionado, in Suwanee, Georgia, for a comprehensive tour of the museum. Here are some of my favourites.

Military Models

1941 Bantam BRC

BANTAM Motors was the first manufacturer in the running for what would be a very lucrative US Government contract. It won the bid for its Blitz prototype, but lacked the production capacity and financial liquidity required to support the needs of the government. Bantam’s initial design was shared with Willys Overland and Ford, who went to task to not only replicate but improve upon the design. Bantam produced several thousand BRCs for the Lend-Lease program, supporting the allied forces in Europe prior to the US entering the war.

NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 2605 (estimate) Continental BY4112 4-cylinder 45hp, 86lb-ft torque T84D 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 40, Spicer 40 79 inches 127. 25 inches 2100 pounds 1941 BANTAM BRC

1941 Ford GP

FORD also answered the call for a ¼-tonne all-wheel drive.

Its offering was the GP. It was not selected, but some of its features made their way to the final production model. It included a Ford truck instrument cluster and pintle tow hitch, and it could be started with a hand crank.

NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1500 (estimate) Fordson N 4.4-litre 4-cylinder 45hp, 84lb-ft torque Ford GP-7000 Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 23-2 80 inches 127.85 inches 2150 pounds 1941 FORD GP

1942 Willys MB

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1941-45 361,399 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 60hp, 105 lb-ft torque T84J 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 23 80 inches 132. 75 inches 2315 pounds 1942 WILLYS MB IT’S said World War II could not have been won without the Willys Jeep. The MB followed the prototype MA and served in all theatres of the war including Europe, the Pacific and North Africa. It would eventually be fitted with small machine guns as a long-range desert reconnaissance vehicle, and it would even be fitted with a propeller and converted to an amphibian.

1941 Willys MA

THE Willys MA, which was preceded by the prototype Quad, became the primary light personnel carrier during WWII. It’s said the Go Devil engine, which produced 33 per cent more horsepower than Ford and Bantam’s offerings, was the primary reason Willys was awarded the contract. By the end of the war more than 350,000 MBs (MA’s successor) had been built.

NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1555 (estimate) Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 60hp, 105lb-ft torque T84J 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 23 80 inches 132.75 inches 2315 pounds 1941 WILLYS MA

1943 Ford GPA Amphibious

THE Ford GPA amphibious was a marvelous idea that simply didn’t work. Based on the GPW chassis, it was encapsulated with a steel hull so it would float, given a PTO-driven propeller and rudder out back so it would move, and be called a boat.

Unfortunately, thousands of young soldiers piled into GPAs with rucksacks, arms, and ammunition only to find the vessel could barely stay afloat. It sat low in the water, and anything more than light water would flood the cockpit and send it to the bottom of the sea – which is where most GPAs found a final resting place.

This rare example was part of Mark A. Smith’s collection.

NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 12,778 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 60hp, 105 lb-ft torque GPW 7000 3-speed manual GPW 7700 FPW 4001/ GPW3001 84 inches 181.8 inches 3400 pounds 1943 FORD GPA AMPHIBIOUS

1944 Ford GP “SAS”

DURING World War II, Ford built the GPW under license by Willys Overland.

Specifications were technically the same, allowing for interchangeability of parts in the field. Specific for the campaign in North Africa, vehicles were stripped of all non-essential parts to allow them to carry additional fuel, water and ammunition.

Known as the Long Range Desert Group, which was made up of New Zealanders, members of the British SAS (Special Air Services) and volunteers from Southern Rhodesia, they performed deep-penetration reconnaissance missions and monitored enemy transport caravans. On occasion, they would slip into an Axis airfield under the cloak of darkness and set the crosshairs of their Browning and Vickers machine guns on parked enemy aircraft, wreaking havoc and disabling or destroying dozens of planes.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1941-45 278,000 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 60hp, 105 lb-ft torque GPW 7000 3-speed manual GPW 7700 GPW 4001, GPW 3001 80 inches 132. 75 inches 2315 pounds 1944 FORD GP “SAS

1951 Willys M38

THE M38 entered the scene in 1950 with the build-up for the Korean War. Considered a light tactical vehicle (based on the CJ-2A), it included a pintle tow hitch, one-piece windshield, larger tyres, 24-volt electrical system, and more durable suspension and frame.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1950-52 45,473 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 60hp, 105 lb-ft torque T90 Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 44 80 inches 133 inches 2750 pounds 1951 WILLYS M38

1952 Willys M38-A1

THE M38-A1 was the first Jeep to have rounded fenders and hood.

It was designed for military use and served as the standard light personnel transporter through the Korean and Vietnam wars.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1952-71 101,488 Hurricane F-head 4-cylinder 72hp, 114 lb-ft torque T90 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 44 81 inches 138.5 inches 2660 pounds 1952 WILLYS M38-A1

Civilian Models

1946 Willys CJ-2A

AS greater America realised the utility of the Jeep as a farming tool, dozens of implements were designed, attached and run off a PTO from the transfer case. This wellpreserved example includes a Ramsey winch, Westinghouse PT-1 air compressor, 200amp welder, side-arm mower, Canfield tow boom, Newgren buzz saw, and a Novi governor to adjust engine and PTO speed. It also featured Canfield overload springs and dual wheels fore and aft. It is a rare sighting in the Jeep world.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1945-49 214,760 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 63hp, 105 lb-ft torque T90 manual Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 41 80 inches 122.75 inches 2137 pounds 1946 WILLYS CJ-2A

Willys CJ-2A

FOLLOWING WWII the American public, ready for some rest and relaxation after years of war, embraced the Willys for its ability to access backcountry camp, fishing and hunting spots.

It was light, capable and became synonymous with overland travel.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1945-49 214,760 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 63hp, 105 lb-ft torque T90 3-speed automatic Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 41 80 inches 122.75 inches 2137 pounds 1948 WILLYS CJ-2A

1947 Willys CJ-2A Fire Truck

THE Howe Fire Apparatus and Boyer Fire Apparatus companies converted a small number of Willys CJ-2As into fire trucks.

With four-wheel drive and a diminutive size, the 2A could access wildland fires in terrain that thwarted conventional fire trucks of the day. This example (a Boyer conversion) was part of Mark Smith’s collection in Georgetown, California.

PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1945-49 Unknown Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 63hp, 105 lb-ft torque T90 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 25, Spicer 41 80 inches 122.75 inches Unknown 1947 WILLYS CJ-2A FIRE TRUCK

1949 Willys VJ Jeepster

IN AN attempt to attract a younger demographic, Willys Overland developed the sporty VJ Jeepster convertible sedan. Early versions were equipped with the standard Go Devil engine, but in 1950 the company offered the Hurricane F-134 and Lightning L161. It was only available in two-wheel drive and did not gain traction (pun intended) with the general buyer. The VJ was phased out in 1951.

NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1948-51 Lighting 148-cubic inch 4-cylinder 70hp, 118lb-ft torque T96 Dana 23 104 inches 174.8 inches 2392 pounds 1949 WILLYS VJ JEEPSTER

1959 FC-150

THE FC, or Forward Control, is a bit of a unicorn in the Jeep World, in that the cab sits directly over the motor and the motor sits between driver and passenger. There were numerous versions offered (FC-170, FC-180, FC-180 DRW and so on) but, for various uses, the common denominator was that they all had a utility bed out back. The much-loved FC was put into service as farm trucks, tour buses and even motorhome conversions. Driving one is like operating a school bus, but you’ll receive loads of looks, smiles and raised thumbs.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT Willys Motors, Kaiser Jeep 1957-65 16,251 Hurricane 134-cubic inch 4-cylinder 75hp, 114 lb-ft torque T90 3-speed manual Dana 18 Dana 25, Dana 44 81 inches (this vehicle) 147.5 inches 3273 pounds 1959 FC-150

1960 Willys DJ-3A Surrey

WITH a frilly ragtop, side-steps and pinstriped seats, the Surrey was ready for mint juleps and leisurely drives on a Sunday afternoon. It was designed with the hotel and resort client in mind, trotting guests from the hunting lodge to sundowners by the lake. As such, many were shipped to Hawaii and the Caribbean for the aforementioned high rollers and use as rental cars.

lodge PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1959-64 1100 Go Devil 2.2-litre 4-cylinder 63hp, 105 lb-ft torque T96 3-speed manual Dana 27 80 inches 136 inches 1819 pounds 1960 WILLYS DJ-3A SURRY

1964 CJ-5

THE CJ-5 was essentially the civilian version of the M38 A1 military Jeep. With a 29-year tenure, it claimed the longest production of any vehicle. It was available with a variety of engines, transmissions, transfer cases and axles, as well as in models such as the Renegade, Golden Eagle, Tuxedo Park and Super Jeep.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT Willys Motors, Kaiser Jeep, AMC 1954-83 603,303 Hurricane 134-cubic inch 4-cylinder 72hp, 114 lb-ft torque T90 3-speed (this vehicle) Dana 18 Dana 27, Dana 44 81 inches 135.5 inches 2469 pounds 1964 CJ-5

1966 Wagoneer

THE SJ Wagoneer, successor to the Willys Wagon, appeared in 1963 and was the first luxury four-wheel drive wagon, or SUV, offered by the company. During its two-decade production run it was fitted with everything from the Tornado inline sixcylinder to a 401 cubic-inch V8. A manual transmission was available in some models, but more common was the Turbohydramatic 400 and Torqueflite 727 automatic. This particular vehicle was purchased from the second owner with only 17,830 original miles.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT Kaiser Jeep 1963-83 Unknown Vigilante 327-cubic inch V8 250hp, 340 lb-ft torque THM400 3-speed automatic Dana 20 Dana 27A, Dana 44 110 inches 183.7 inches 4514 1966 WAGONEER pounds

1967 CJ-6

THE “6” was the long-wheelbase version of the CJ-5 (adding approximately 20 inches). The US Forest Service and foreign enthusiasts gravitated toward the CJ-6 more than domestic buyers. This example, which is in stellar condition, was used as a volunteer ambulance in Troy, Michigan. It has the original tyres, an optional Ramsey PTO winch, and the odometer reads a scant 14,000 miles.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT Kaiser Jeep 1955-75 50,172 Hurricane 72hp, 114 lb-ft torque T90C 3-speed manual Spicer 18 Spicer 27, Dana 44 101 inches 155.5 inches 2413 pounds 1967 CJ-6

1971 “Hurst Edition” Commando

WITH the muscle-car generation’s foot firmly on the skinny peddle, and Commander sales falling off, AMC joined forces with Hurst Performance Products to inject some adrenaline into the Jeeping world. The Hurst Edition features a custom hood scoop (yes, designed with a swale in the middle) and GTOstyle tachometer, Dual Gate shifter, custom Goodyear tyres, roof-top luggage rack, and a stylish (for the day) graphics package. The example here is one of only 100 built.

GTOstyle PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT 1966-71 57,350 Dauntless 225-cubic inch V6 160hp, 235 lb-ft torque THM 400 3-speed automatic Spicer 20 Spicer 27, Spicer 44 101 inches 168.4 inches 2966 pounds 1971 “HURST EDITION” COMMANDO

1973 CJ-5 “Super Jeep”

THE Super Jeep, offered in 1973, was the result of a shortage of the classic 70s-style aluminium slot mag wheels needed for Renegade models. It featured a groovy graphics package, white soft top and custom upholstery. Only 300 were built.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEAR NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT AMC 1955-1983 300 304 cubic inch V8 125-150 hp, 220-245 lb-ft torque T15 Dana 20 Dana 30, Dana 44 83.5 inches 138.9 inches 2469 pounds 1973 CJ-5 “SUPER JEEP”

1983 CJ-8 “Scrambler”

THE CJ-8 was technically a stretched CJ-7. It featured a removable half cab and a short pick-up bed out back. The Scrambler designation was derived from a model that included a graphics and wheel package. In South America it was sold as the CJ-8 Overlander, which included a full-length hard top.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION YEARS NUMBER BUILT ENGINE OUTPUT TRANSMISSION TRANSFER CASE AXLES (FRONT, REAR) WHEELBASE LENGTH WEIGHT AMC 1981-86 27,792 4.2-litre 6-cylinder 115 hp, 201 lb-ft torque 4 or 5-speed manual, 3-speed automatic Dana 300 Dana 30, AMC 20 103.5 inches 177.3 inches 2650 pounds 1983 CJ-8 “SCRAMBLER”