・Period correct decals ∙ Already in the UK and all import paperwork completed.
Stop sniggering at the back. The brand name is, of course, pronounced ‘Willis’ (as in Bruce) and was used by Willys-Overland Motors which was named for its founder, John North Willys after he acquired the Overland Automotive division of the Standard Wheel company in 1908. Following further acquisitions, Willys-Overland became the second largest producer of automobiles in the USA between 1912 and 1918 behind the Ford Motor Company.
But the model for which the company is best known came some time later in the form of the Willys MB, known colloquially as the ‘Jeep’. One of three successful bidders to produce the standardised design, the others being Ford and American Bantam, Willys successfully secured the rights to the Jeep name and after the war continued to produce Jeeps and other variations on that theme for civilian use, starting with the CJ-2A with CJ standing for ‘Civilian Jeep’.
The Jeep’s contribution to the war effort surely cannot be overstated. Numbering over 650,000 in total across the versions produced by the three companies, the durability and versatility of the world’s first mass-produced four wheel drive vehicle meant that it was a vital resource for the Allies. The CJ-2A essentially took this design, removed the military features and formed a template for the model that would continue in production right up to 1986.
This example is a 1945 CJ-2A which has been ‘re-militarised’ so that it now resembles a US military spec Willys MB. It has recently been imported from South Africa by the vendor who has recently returned home from a decade of working there and now imports selected classics to keep him occupied in retirement. With his network of contacts he is able to source cars from dry climate regions which mean that they are generally rust-free, though he does also put them through an MOT to be sure that they are up to scratch.
Fully restored in the last five years, this Jeep comes with an original World War 2 Ham Radio, spades and shovels, and period-correct decals.
The vehicle is registered on the NOVA database. The next owner will be the first registered UK keeper. The vendor is supplying it with a 12 month MOT as although it’s exempt, he wants to give any buyer the additional peace of mind of an MOT.
With a set of instructions on the metal plates on the dash, there’s really no excuse for not being able to make the most of the Jeep. The interior is obviously ‘no-frills’ but has a lovely period feel, is in very good condition and stays true to the military spec with the radio, lock box and jerry can in its holder. A black crackle finish to the floor and removable seat covers also mean that it could truly be hosed out at the end of a day in the mud.
Externally the vehicle presents very well and looks every inch the American GI-spec that the restoration has aimed for. With the thick rope wrapping the front bumper and the US Military decals, we’d bet that only a full-scale military enthusiast nerd is going to spot that it’s not an MB. The condition of the underside reflects the dry conditions in which it’s been living and while the small dents to the rear silencer show some signs of off-road use, surely that’s where the fun is to be had?
The engine bay presents very well and the engine fires first time. Though you clearly can’t expect modern car levels of refinement, it drives well.
Whether on the road or off it, this car is sure to generate plenty of smiles from occupants and onlookers alike. Given that the Jeep was originally intended to be a throwaway item, a remarkable number have survived so it’s not something to treat as an investment but equally, in this condition, it’s not likely to depreciate hugely. So really it’s all about having fun and, with so many ways to enjoy a vehicle like this, there’s surely something for everyone.
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