The 12-step program for Junk-Jeeps Anonymous.
Around the office we all joke about the supposed problem I have with buying junk Jeeps. Word is that if you slap a price tag of $1,000 or less on any pile built before 1972, I'll buy the thing, running or not, as long as it has paperwork. While that may be true, it's not that I have an abundance of free time to wrench on these gems or a great desire to preserve the slice of automotive history they represent. It's that I just can't seem to ignore the potential hiding within any given rusting hulk of Toledo steel.
So when I got an e-mail from my wife's cousin, Joe Wytmans, asking me if I still wanted to buy the 1948 Willys pickup that I had first seen parked in his parents' yard in Los Gatos, California, about 10 years ago, it was with pained clairvoyance that I found myself typing the replies, "How much?" and "Got any pictures?"
As it turns out, his parents were selling their house so the Jeep had to go quickly. He needed a winch for his CJ-7 project, so I offered him the used Ramsey Patriot 9500 off the front of my Dodge Ramcharger. What followed was yet another Hazel/Cappa, long-distance, junk-Jeep purchase and retrieval, (see the Web Extras).
But for right now we'll introduce you to our latest project vehicle, Murderous Overkill, the buildup of which should begin in a future issue of Jp Magazine. The plan is to freshen up the nasty 455 Olds big-block from my 1969 Olds Cutlass high-school ride, stab an SM465 and Stak three-speed Monster Box behind it, sling a Currie Enterprises aluminum Rock Jock axle in the front, hang some leaf springs, and boil the hides off some 40-inch tires. Hang on. It's gonna get good.
Not only did Cousin Joe sell us the almost-running 1948 for next to nothing, he loaded the Willys onto a U-Haul trailer to meet us halfway between Los Angeles and Los Gatos, California, and struck the ubiquitous "Hey, Mom, I'm in the magazine!" pose for us. We repaid his kind generosity with a used winch and some Jp Magazine stickers.
For once, we were sure we got the better end of a vehicle purchase, especially when we saw the Ramsey 8,000-pound PTO winch and dual-output Spicer 18 Ramsey PTO. It isn't wrong to screw family, is it?
Cousin Joe told us the swapped-in Chevy straight-six ran when parked, but didn't anymore. We pulled the drain plug in the fuel tank and a syrupy goo oozed out that resembled anything but fuel. After getting it home, we rigged a gas can on the front bumper, slapped a battery in it, and the engine fired and purred right away.
The 1948 has lots of cool original gizmos like the vacuum and cable-operated wipers, interior emblems, and what looks to be a factory-optioned heater. It's neat to look at, but most of it's going away soon to an online "For Sale" board near you.