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1949 Overlanding Expedition Rig at SEMA 2016 #TENSEMA16

Posted in Sema: 2016 on November 2, 2016
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The SEMA show is a dazzling array of blinky lights, shiny European exotics, and lifted JKs on 24-inch wheels. But each year there are hidden gems we stumble across. This year is no different. Tucked away in a corner of the Crown Automotive booth is this gem of a 1949 Willys wagon. The original 4x4 camping machine, the Max-Bilt boys wasted no time dragging this rust-belt field find into their shop and, with the help of a donor XJ Jeep Cherokee, turned it into an insane daily driver and comfy cruiser.

The boys at Jp magazine are lining up a full feature on this super-cool Willys, dubbed “The Original Overlander,” but we just can’t wait to share some highlights. The body was removed from the frame, which was reinforced out back and treated to some square-tube framerails up front. Underneath lies the factory Cherokee high-pinion Dana 30 front and Chrysler 8.25 rear, factory 3.55s and all. Under the hood, the H.O. 4.0L inline-six was treated to a pared-down XJ wiring harness and the throttle body was topped with the original (albeit modified) 1949 air cleaner. The factory column shifter was made to toggle the gears in the XJ’s AW4 four-speed auto and the NP242 part/full-time T-case will make winter road driving a breeze. The 30x9.50-15 Pitbull tires are well behaved and with the XJ’s power steering and brakes, pose no problem to stopping or turning.

The body is just as found. Well, there’s some reinforcements here and new glass all around…but it hasn’t been artificially patina’d or monkeyed with in any way. Some genuine barn-find license plates, a sharp and dangerous logging saw, and a repop “Stop” scripted taillight round out the exterior trinket highlights. Inside, the factory seats have been refoamed and recovered in Grumpy Old Man plaid. They’re sublimely comfortable…trust us. A repop steering wheel, plaid headliner, and stained wood trim throughout round out the interior. There are lots of hidden features inside, including the XJ’s working cruise control, antler knob handles, and…oh hell. We’ve got to leave something for the Jp magazine boys to write about. Make sure you tune in and check out their feature at fourwheeler.com in the near future. And keep your eyes peeled here for more SEMA 2016 coverage.

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