Willys Jeepster: Nice and sunny

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Jeepsters are civilian vehicles. But: In Den Beginne there were the Jeeps, the military handymen who were the manslaughter of the heavy military motorcycle sidecar combinations. There are many stories about the naming of those Jeeps.

That would be the corruption of 'G.P'. as in 'General Purpose'. The reference to 'Eugene the Jeepster', a cartoon character from the Popeye strips traveling between the dimensions, is also one. Also entertaining: 'J'ust' E'nough 'E'lementary' P'arts. 'And we will return to that' Jeepster '.

The army asked an all-rounder

The registrations for that universal vehicle came from Ford, Willys-Overland and American Bantam. The winning design came from American Bantam. But winning isn't everything. There was more to it. There were hidden agendas, plus the fact that Willys was a small producer with insufficient capacity to manufacture their winner in sufficient numbers. That is why the final choice fell on the Willys-Overland model.

The war led to a lot of demand for Jeeps, which is why Ford became involved in production. Willys shared with Ford all the information about the Jeep, making the jeeps of both manufacturers almost identical. Ford produced 278.000 of these during the war and Willys more than 335.000.

After the war, the French company Hotchkiss licensed the jeeps. From 1955 to 1958, the Willys M38A1 jeep was assembled in the Netherlands by Nekaf. And Nekaf again stands for Dutch Kaiser Fraser.

The Jeep in burger: the CJ

After World War II, Willys, as the owner of the Jeep trademark, began producing the “CJ” (for the civil Jeep) for farmers, foresters and others with similar utilitarian needs. The company also started producing the Jeep Wagon / Panel Utility / Pick-up in 1946, and the Jeep Truck in 1947

Jeepster: a short history

The Jeepster remained in production for only 1948 years from 3. A little more than 19000 copies were made in total.

The base Jeepster from 1948 was relatively luxuriously equipped compared to comparable cars. The Jeepster had ex-works whitewall tires, chrome hubcaps, sun visors, shaving windows, a luxury steering wheel, a lockable glovebox, a lighter and the famous 'continental' spare tire on the back of the case, neatly in a cover. A serious attempt had also been made to make the grille look more like an ordinary luxury car.

The Jeepster had Willy's proven 2.2 liter four-in-line “Go Devil” engine. The car was offered with rear-wheel drive only, limiting its appeal to regular Jeep customers. The Jeepster did not catch on due to insufficient marketing, too few advertisements and too few dealers.

The Go Devil engine and the six-cylinder engine

The Jeepster's engine delivered 60 hp and was fitted with a manual 3-speed gearbox with standard overdrive.The Planadyne suspension, the independent front suspension, and the drivetrain, front, rear suspension, steering and drum brakes came from the warehouses of the Willys Station Wagon. The rear fenders were removed from the Jeep truck line. In mid-1949 the VJ3-6, powered by a Willys' new L148 Lightning six cylinder, arrived.

The Jeepster is not an 4WD

The Jeepster was a car with the appearance of a Jeep but with conventional rear-wheel drive. Because Willys was busy with production for the military, the production of the Jeepster was discontinued. The Jeepsters were available as station wagons and convertibles. Meanwhile, such an open Jeepster looks cool but almost elegant. With its 2,2 liter four-cylinder petrol engine, it certainly did not pull the pavers out of the street.

We found our photo model at Hofman in Leek.




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