So where can you find a couple hundred Jeeps ranging from WWII-era Ford GPs to 2016 Wranglers on display? And where can you find a few dozen perfectly restored vintage or historically significant Jeeps ranging from the WWII era to the 21st century? Well, if you were at the inaugural Omix-ADA Jeep Heritage Expo at the company’s headquarters in Suwanee (on the outskirts of Atlanta), Georgia, on Saturday, July 16, 2016, you would have seen both.
Both, you might ask? Yes, both. Not only did the world’s largest independent manufacturer and wholesaler of Jeep parts and accessories open up its headquarters to the public for a day, and allow a couple hundred participants into the Omix-ADA Jeep Heritage Expo to stroll through its one-of-a-kind collection of restored vintage and historically important Jeeps, but you could also bring your own Jeep to the company’s parking lot and put it on display.
Hundreds of Jeep fans showed up to hang out, meet new friends, check in with old friends, and show off their mechanical creativity. A favorite among the participant-brought vehicles were a slew of WWII jeeps (some with matching trailers) brought in by the Georgia Military Vehicle Preservation Association. Barry and Karen Ogletree brought their very unique CJ-3B “Fred,” a stretched four-seat CJ-3B, all the way from Texas. There were also rows of well-built CJ-5s and CJ-7s, as well as some excellent Scramblers. Lots of JKs of all shape and build were there for the show, as were plenty of XJs, YJs and TJs.
However, the highlight of the day for many was the Omix-ADA Jeep Collection. The collection is the brainchild of Omix-ADA founder and president Al Azadi, and it’s curated with the help of Dave Logan. It contains more than 30 rare rigs that have been either fully or partially restored. Although this was a one-day event during which you could walk through the self-guided tour (each vehicle had an information-filled plaque parked in front of it, detailing the specs and history of the rig), this event was also the grand celebration of the collection’s opening to the public (by appointment only, so be sure to call before making any travel plans).
This is the finest collection of Jeeps anywhere in the world. It’s the heart and soul, as well as the driving force, of the company and its mission to create, manufacture, and distribute restoration parts for vintage Jeeps, and parts and accessories for Jeeps of all ages, new or old.
Stepping inside the museum was like traveling back in time. There are the three stunning classic examples of the WWII jeep–a 1941 Willys MA (USMC version), 1941 Bantam BRC, and 1941 Ford GP. You’ll also find a 1942 Willys MB. Also in the collection is a 1944 Ford GPW (SAS) with machine guns mounted, and covered with gas and water cans. The GPW (SAS) is built to resemble those used by British Special Air Services (SAS) in North Africa. These brave limeys would drive the tan-colored GPWs in pre-dawn raids, running alongside German airfields to strafe planes sitting on the ground before they could be taken airborne to harass Allied forces. A 1943 Ford GPA “Seep” amphibious jeep–some were used by Russians (our allies then) to “ford” rivers–for ferrying troops ashore from transport ships is part of the collection. The 1951 Willys M38 is a Korean War-era veteran, and this particular specimen features a propane-powered machine gun used for practice firing. The first Jeep to feature rounded fenders, a 1952 Willys M38-A1 powered by the “Hurricane” F-head engine, is present. Also in the collection is a Vietnam-era 1967 Jeep M715.
Included in the OMIX-ADA collection is a 1957 Willys Pickup fire truck, 1964 Willys CJ-3B (which we got to drive), 1973 Jeep CJ-5 “Super Jeep” powered by a 304ci V-8 (which we also got to drive), 1955 Willys Pickup, 1978 Jeep J-10 Pickup, and a 1947 Willys Station Wagon. However, it doesn’t stop there. Other restored specimens in the collection range from a 1982 Jeep CJ-7 all the way up to a 2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ two-door that is the “newest” Jeep in the collection to date.
If you were at the 2016 Omix-ADA Jeep Heritage Expo, then you shared in the excitement of being around so many Jeeps dating from the beginning of the breed to present-day. Trophies were handed out for “Best” in each class of participant vehicles, and the Show & Shine entry fees were donated to the American Diabetes Association. There were games for the kids, a variety of food trucks on hand, and Omix-ADA had posters, T-shirts, and other goodies available. As successful as the inaugural event was, we’re betting there will be another in 2017, so stay tuned to fourwheeler.com/jp-magazine/ for more information and dates of the next Omix-ADA Jeep Heritage Expo. If you’re interested in touring the Omix-ADA Jeep Collection, contact them at 770/614-6101 to set up an appointment. Until then check out our gallery of nearly 200 photos from the show and the collection.