A Very Special Kind of Crazy

I was recently looking through the dockets from one of the larger collector car auctions (which shall remain unnamed) paying particular attention to the borderline bonkers amounts of money that is exchanged for restored vehicles these days. Granted, we are fairly far removed from those days, just over a decade ago, when an unassuming guy, known mostly by his telltale Ferrari ball cap, spent countless hundreds of thousands of dollars on car after beautiful car like they were neck ties. Turns out he was a curator for an automotive museum owned by a rather wealthy TV executive and not the average Joe that he appeared to be…a Joe that we imagined had apparently been printing off counterfeit hundred dollar bills for months and decided that a highly-televised car auction was the perfect place to try and pass them off. We all secretly wished we could be him-goofy Italian sports car hat, and all. Snatching up every dream car that came across the block with little regard for how many zeros were lined up after the first few numbers.

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While I usually expect to see six digit prices on pristine Corvettes, Lambos or Cobras and an occasional million dollar sum for anything with a traceable racing heritage, I tend to pay more mind to the market values assessed to the decidedly more mundane cars, the ones that normal working folks may aspire to be able to purchase or, more remarkably, be able to restore with their own skillset and hands. While it does take a crazy amount of money to buy a vintage Ferrari 250, it takes a person of a clearly different sort of means to bring a car back from the brink of extinction and restore it to its full form and function. The amount of the expense involved with the restoration may vary greatly based on the subject. While a Jaguar D-type would mean the financial ruin of most anyone, the re-creation of the mechanics that comprise a 1950’s Willys Jeep could be accomplished by anyone on a lawn boy’s budget and apparently the potential return on investment appears to be equal in scale.

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So what kind of enthusiast might consider undertaking the restoration of an early Jeep? Well, with the abundant availability of reproduction body tubs and sheet metal, you would not need to spend countless hours scouring scrap yards looking for pieces to complete your puzzle or even be forced to start with a rusty, rotten shell. From a mechanical aspect, the level of technology that is involved is, to say the least, pretty basic. The tolerances for the fit and finish of the final product are far from strict. Many of the original Willys Jeeps from the 1940’s were largely assembled in the field from components stacked inside a shipping crate and could be replicated by a do-it-yourselfer in a shop or garage with simple tools. You might find it much liking building a model car kit, without the smelly glue. The only unique skillsets that would be required would be a basic mechanical aptitude, large reserves of patience and persistence, and a reasonable attention to detail. You can find just about everything else you would need at http://www.omix-ada.com. Maybe you can be that special kind of crazy? OlllllllO

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I’ll Spare You the Details

1One of the most unique and differentiating features of the Willys / Jeep vehicle has always been the presence of an externally-mounted spare tire. In the early WWII-era models, the spare was first mounted to the rear of the tub but was relocated later to the rear side panel as civilian models were introduced in the mid 40’s, making way for the new rear tailgates on the CJ2 and CJ3 models. While the external mounting of the spare was most likely done out of dire shortage of interior space, the fact that it still resides outside of the frame rails today, some 75 years later, is somewhat surprising. With all of the creature comforts and niceties that have found their way into the current Jeep platform, one would almost expect to see the unsightly spare tire hidden underneath the rear end or tucked away discretely inside the cargo area. That just isn’t the way Jeep has ever done it. Jeeps are about no-nonsense utility…if we have a humongous spare tire, we want it right where we can get to it! Otherwise, we would’ve equipped them with teeny, tiny donut-shaped space-saver spares that tucks underneath your passenger seat.

I have information from very reliable sources, from people that have actually experienced an off-road vehicle roll-over firsthand, and they all unanimously proclaim that, in the event of such an occurrence, you do NOT want anything on the inside of your passenger compartment larger or heavier than a small stuffed animal. Cellphones, toolboxes, tire irons, roofing hammers or, heaven forbid, a 30 ounce stainless steel thermal tumbler filled with scalding-hot coffee are all transformed into barrel-rolling projectiles of terrifying mass that will dent, beat and bludgeon anything and everything in their path. While I agree that the spare tire mounted on the outside is still going to wreak unbelievable havoc if you go belly-up, I am much more comfortable with it not using my lap as a starting point for its dismount. For that reason, storing the spare tire outside the Jeep seems to make a great deal of sense.

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3Another dilemma that is not so easily solved is what do we do in the event that we have a damaged tire and need to use our spare? First of all, if your Jeep has even a small suspension lift and larger tires, you will find that your original equipment jack is of little OR no use to you, other than keeping the jack mounting brackets from rattling. You are going to need to utilize a hi-lift or farm jack and some level of ingenuity in your execution of its use in order to change your flat tire. You will also face a similar problem when it comes to decide where to stow your jack. I prefer a hood jack mount for two reasons: first, the fact that the jack is easily accessible regardless of your vehicles positioning. Secondly and more importantly, those unknowing passersby who seem to inevitably mistake it for some sort of machine gun mounting apparatus always yield some really humorous conversations at the fueling station. Many people opt for mounting the jack right next to the spare on the rear bumper or tailgate which has its own merits. Of course, you could mount the jack on the inside of your Jeep, too (see paragraph above).

Once you have a hi-lift jack mounted in a convenient location on your Jeep, yet another dilemma rears its ugly head. Gravity was happy to assist you when you removed the spare tire but now it’s time to remount the flat tire on your carrier and you have seriously underestimated the weight of a wheel and tire combination, even when it’s flat. Hopefully, you have someone riding with you that can assist with the task of lifting the tire. Even a 35” diameter tire can be cumbersome to lift, if not impossible for some, especially when physical exhaustion and uneven terrain become factors. If you have a 37” tire or larger, I might suggest digging a shallow grave to bury it in or hide it under an immense pile of brush temporarily and return later with a friend/accomplice to retrieve it. However inconvenient this may seem at the time, it pales in comparison to the deflation of being found days later, after an extensive search, with only your arms and legs protruding from under the giant spare tire.     

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Jeep Celebrates its Heritage With Willys Edition Wrangler

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The Jeep was originally built for military use and gained a reputation on the battlefields of World War II. After the war was over the civilian CJ was made available to the public. So to pay tribute to the old time beauty Jeep has created a limited 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition that will debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is inspired by early Willys CJ (Civilian Jeep) models with exclusive styling and upgraded off-road goodies. Starting with a Wrangler Sport, these upgrades include a Dana 44 rear axle with limited-slip differential and 3.73 gears, along with meaty BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain tires mounted to the Willys Wheeler’s black 17-inch wheels. For more of a classic Jeep look, this model adds a gloss black grille, “Willys” hood stickers and rock rails to protect the side sills. Jeep is also tossing in a D-ring, tow strap and gloves that are all kept in a special carrying bag.

When it goes on sale early next year, the two-door Willys Wheeler Edition will start at $26,790 and the Unlimited four-door models at $30,590. That pricing reflects a premium of $3400 for either version, but there is quite a bit that comes with the package.

1943 Willys MB Celebrates its 70th Birthday

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After being sent to support the US Army in Sicily in 1943 the MB was finally returned home to Toledo, Ohio, its origninal production site.

Nearly seven decades in Italy, current owner Vittorio Argento, an Italian radio jornalist and history enthusiast, brought the Willys MB back for its 70th birthday.

Watch the video below.

Rick Pewe Cross Country GPW Update

It’s been a while since our last update on Rick Péwé and his venture across America in his 1943 GPW, so we’ll just pick back up where we left off! Our last post left off with Rick en route to Butler, PA to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, he arrived just in time and we were there to greet him on his arrival and caught up on some of his travel stories.

After leaving Butler, Rick headed north to Nova Scotia, Canada. Rick stopped by Broken Road 4WD in New Hampshire for a hefty overhaul of Omix-ADA parts to make sure the GPW could continue the trip. Rick got a new front spring, adjusted his valves, changes the oil pan, and much more. Andy from Broken Road decided to join Rick on a leg of his trip, it’s always good to have a co-pilot.

Rick’s trip hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing, but being the resourceful and knowledgeable guy that he is, and with the parts and services provided by us and shops along the way, he has been able to continue his travels successfully. Make sure to like the Rugged Ridge facebook page for more updates!

Here’s some more photos from his trip.

Across America in a jeep GPW

Rick Péwé, Editor-In-Chief at Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, has embarked on a journey across America in his 1943 Ford GPW. He started on the west coast, and is driving all the way to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, PA. Rick is a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and has been a Jeeper since the first flat fender GPW he purchased when he was 15 years old (which he still owns).

Rick’s first stop along the way was the 60th Annual Jeepers Jamboree at the Rubicon Springs Trail. Rick participated in the trail rides in his GPW, and despite a couple of small issues here and there, this trusty old jeep lasted the entire event. To support Rick on his cross-country journey, we sent him tons of OMIX hard parts and replacement parts to keep the GPW going.

After the Jeepers Jamboree event, Rick hit the road toward Butler, PA to attend the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. He’s taking US highway 50 most of the time, and has been updating periodically with some great photos and stories. We will also be out at the festival, so if you’re there swing by to say hello, check out our new products, and see this GPW for yourself! For more photos and updates from Rick’s adventure, make sure to like Peterson’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine’s Facebook page!

Photos courtesy of Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine.

Across America in a jeep GPW

Rick Péwé, Editor-In-Chief at Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, has embarked on a journey across America in his 1943 Ford GPW. He started on the west coast, and is driving all the way to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, PA. Rick is a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and has been a Jeeper since the first flat fender GPW he purchased when he was 15 years old (which he still owns).

Rick’s first stop along the way was the 60th Annual Jeepers Jamboree at the Rubicon Springs Trail. Rick participated in the trail rides in his GPW, and despite a couple of small issues here and there, this trusty old jeep lasted the entire event. To support Rick on his cross-country journey, we sent him tons of OMIX hard parts and replacement parts to keep the GPW going.

After the Jeepers Jamboree event, Rick hit the road toward Butler, PA to attend the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. He’s taking US highway 50 most of the time, and has been updating periodically with some great photos and stories. We will also be out at the festival, so if you’re there swing by to say hello, check out our new products, and see this GPW for yourself! For more photos and updates from Rick’s adventure, make sure to like Peterson’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine’s Facebook page!

History of the Jeep (part 1) : Willys MB

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In June 1940, the U.S. military informed automakers that it was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle” to replace the Army’s motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T vehicles. The Army invited 135 manufacturers to bid on production and developed a lengthy specification list for the vehicle, including the following:

  • 600-lb. load capacity
  • wheelbase less than 75 inches
  • height less than 36 inches
  • smooth-running engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour
  • rectangular-shaped body
  • two-speed transfer case with
  • four-wheel drive fold-down windshield
  • three bucket seats
  • blackout and driving lights
  • gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs.

At first, Willys-Overland and American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company were the only two companies answering the call. Soon, however, Ford Motor Company entered the picture, and competition began among the three over which company would receive the lucrative government contract.

Each company produced prototypes for testing in record time. Bantam’s chief engineer, along with a team of Bantam executives, worked out a design, and the company built its field car within 49 days.

Willys-Overland Vice President of Engineering Delmar G. Roos designed the Willys Quad. Ford developed its Model GP (General Purpose), known as the Pygmy, which was powered by an adapted Ford/Ferguson tractor engine. Each company delivered its prototype to the Army in the summer of 1940 and received approval to build 70 sample vehicles.

The Army took possession of these vehicles in November 1940 at Camp Holabird, Md. Each of the three designs exceeded the Army’s specification of 1,300 lbs., but the Army soon realized that limit was far too low and raised it for the next round of vehicles.

The Army issued the next round of contracts in March of 1941. Bantam was to produce 1,500 Model 40 BRC vehicles, Ford would build 1,500 modified and improved GP Pygmies, and Willys would build 1,500 Quads. Further testing and evaluation led to the Army’s selection of the Willys vehicle as the standard.

Subsequently, most of the Bantams and Ford GPs (also known as GPWs) produced were sent to Great Britain and Russia as part of the lend-lease program. In Great Britain, the Ford vehicle was popularly known as the “Blitz Buggy.”

Willys MA/MB

With modifications and improvements, the Willys Quad became the MA, and later the MB. But the Army, and the world, came to know it as the Jeep®.

Some claimed that the name came from the slurring of the letters “GP,” the military abbreviation for “General Purpose.” Others say the vehicle was named for a popular character named “Eugene the Jeep” in the Popeye cartoon strip. Whatever its origin, the name entered into the American lexicon and, for awhile, served almost as a generic title for off-road vehicles, while the Jeep itself became an icon of the war.

The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument clusters on the dashboard, and a hand brake on the left side. Willys struggled to reduce the weight to the new Army specification of 2,160 lbs. Items removed in order for the MA to reach that goal were reinstalled on the next-generation MB resulting in a final weight of approximately just 400 lbs. above the specifications.

Willys-Overland would build more than 368,000 vehicles, and Ford, under license, some 277,000, for the U.S. Army. The rugged, reliable olive-drab vehicle would forever be known for helping win a world war.

Willys trademarked the “Jeep” name after the war and planned to turn the vehicle into an off-road utility vehicle for the farm – the civilian Universal Jeep. One of Willys’ slogans at the time was “The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep,” and the company set about making sure the world recognized Willys as the creator of the vehicle.

Source: Jeep