1950 Willys Jeepster

The trademark 'Jeep' is generally accepted to have come from the Ford name. As a general purpose vehicle, or GP for short, when the words become slurred together, they form the word 'Jeep'. Willy's transformed this into their trademark.

John North Willys purchased the Overland Automotive Company in 1908 located in Indianapolis Indiana. In 1908, as sales grew, the Pope Toledo automobile manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio was the new site for the production.
Willys-Overland Company was formed in 1912 and began producing the Willys-Knight series automobile, as well as the popular 'Whippet'. After a Depression-era bankruptcy reorganization, the company became Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. in 1936.

Introduced in 1947 as the 2T and 4T models, the Willy's Jeep Pickup was very similar to the Willys Jeep Wagon and the Jeepster. Completely revamped in 1950 it became the 473.
Becoming the 475 in 1953, and a year later a six-cylinder 6-226 model. It was eventually dropped in 1962 for the 6-230 Tornado OHC engine.

The Borg-Warner T-90 three-speed manual was the only transmission available. On 4WD models, a Spicer 18 transfer case was used. A Dana 25 was used for the front axle. Until 1960 the differential ratio of 5.38:1 was standard.

To improve traction and handling, engine position and transmission position were experimented with, since most early motor vehicles had a basic set up with the engine mounted in front with a gearbox attached to it driving the rear wheels only.

When the army needed a replacement for the vehicles they had been using, making new standards for the vehicles they used, the military submitted the standards to American auto makers.

The wheelbase had to be less than 75 inches, and the height under 36 inches, with a load capacity of 600 pounds. The engine had to run smoothly anywhere from 3 to 50 miles per hour with a rectangular shaped body.
The vehicle was also required a windshield that folded down, have three bucket seats, have blackout driving lights and two speed transfer case with four wheel drive.

Beginning life early during the twentieth century, four wheel drive vehicles became more readily available.
Both the American and British armies had four wheel drive trucks during the World War one to cross the heavy terrain carrying troops and equipment. The need for a on and off road vehicle that was truly multi-purpose was rising.

The ability to literally drive across any terrain suddenly became a necessity for the military during the onset of World War II. Over 135 companies had been invited to submit their vehicle design, but only three did, the Ford Motor Company, the American Bantam company and Willys-Overland.

An initial contract for seventy jeeps was given to the Bantam company, though their model was a failure once tested by the military. The second World War had begun, and more prototypes were accepted from the other two companies. Deciding that Willys-Overland had the best model, they were chosen.

Beginning their vehicle development with the design and manufacture of America's first four-wheel drive ¼-ton utility vehicle, Willys-Overland Motors, Inc stepped up to the challenge.

After the second World War, they realized that soon there would be a large market for a civilian version of the Jeep with returned servicemen.
Willys-Overland had already begun to promote the versatility of the Jeep vehicle as both a work and recreational vehicle as early as 1942, but at the time, all efforts had been allocated to supplying the armed services.
Mmore than 350,000 'Jeeps' were manufactured during the 1940's. Purchasing the jeeps at $738.74 per model., the Military supported Willy's model.

A vehicle that proved to be both dependable as well as rugged, by the end of the war, the Jeep had already reached aclaim by the end of the war.

Willys-Overland also became a supplier of munitions and military materials as part of the war effort. They were responsible for creating the 'Robomb' the allied version of the German V-2 rockcet, shells, projectiles bullet cores and parts for aircraft landing gears.
Willys filed for the trademark registration of the name Jeep by the end of the war and began production for the pubic.

Naming the original models Civillian Jeeps (CJ), production b egan in 1945 and before long, the name Jeep became a trademark for dependable, tough, ‘go anywhere' vehicles.

The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A was produced from 1945 until 1949. Marketing the Jeep as a work vehicle for farmers and construcction workers, the CJ-2A came with a tailgate, larger headlights, and side-mounted spare tire.

The CJ-3A, very similar to the previous model was introduced in 1948 and featured a one piece windscreen while retaining the original L-head 4 cylinder engine.

The CJ-3B was introduced in 1953 and had a taller front grille and hood than the previous model. The vehicle had to be larger to accommodate the new Hurrican F-head four-cylinder engine. A total of 155,494 CJ-3B were produced until 1968.

Introduced in 1955, the CJ-5 and based on the rounded-front-fender 1951 Korean War M-38A1. Larger than the CJ-3B, it had an increase wheelbase, was wider and an increased overall length. It featured softer styling lines and included rounded body contours.

The longer wheelbase model CJ-6 was introduced not long after. Almost identical to the CJ-5 the CJ-6 had a forward cocntrol cab-over-engine variation.
Introduced in 1962, the Jeep Wagoneer was the first automatic transmission in a four wheel drive vehicle in their wagoneer line.

In 1953 Kaiser purchased Willy Overland for $60 million. American Motors Corporation AMC took over Kaiser-jeep in 1970. More popular than ever, 4WD vehicles had become more and more standard. Production had reached over 600 vehicles a day, nearly three times more than it had at the beginning of the decade.

The CJ-7 was introduced by AMC, the frst major change in Jeep design in over 20 years. With a slightly longer wheelbase, it allowed for an automatic transmission to be fitted.

The CJ-8, also known as the Scrambler was produced soon after. The only main difference between the 8 and 9 was a longer wheelbase.

In 1987 the American Motors Corporation was bought by the Chrysler Corporation. The Chrysler Corporation merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998. Attempting to retain some of the old Willys features, modern day Chrysler Jeep models have incorporated the front grille from the beginning models.

The United Kingdom the Land Rover project was created and begun.

By Jessica Donaldson

Vehicle Profiles


The Willys-Overland company attempted to stay in business in the postwar era by making civilian derivatives of its famed wartime Jeep. They began with the de-militarized CJ-2A and followed that with the industry's first steel-bodied station wagon. Th....[continue reading]


Chassis Num: 10825
Engine Num: 48935

In the spring of 1948, the Jeepster was introduced, powered by a Go Devil inline four-cylinder engine that offered 63 horsepower. It wore a design courtesy of Brooks Stevens who designed the Jeepster to use the same chassis as the Jeep station wagon.....[continue reading]


Chassis Num: 673VJ11214

This 1950 Willys Jeepster was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Amelia Island, Florida where it was offered without reserve and estimated to sell between $25,000 - $35,000. It is powered by a 148.5 cubic-inch L-head 'Lightning Six' cy....[continue reading]


Chassis Num: 673VJ 1064
Engine Num: 1S 12038

This Jeepster is finished in black with a black and red interior. It rides on tall whitewall tires, chrome bumper guards, Willys wheel discs and a top piped in red to match the interior. The car has a lightweight open bodywork, a six-cylinder engine ....[continue reading]

Chassis #: 10825 
Chassis #: 673VJ11214 
Chassis #: 673VJ 1064 

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