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The Old Man & The Jeep Part 2

Don Prine's Private Collection

Christian HazelPhotographer, Writer

If you tuned in last issue, you probably enjoyed ogling 94-year-old Don Prine’s Lakewood, Washington, shop, Prine’s Jeep Service, which is chock full of cool old Jeep vehicles, parts, and memorabilia. We promised to show you Prine’s private collection, and here’s where the tricky part comes in. This isn’t all of Prine’s collection. In fact, it’s only a small fraction. As a hardcore collector of Jeep parts, vehicles, and military surplus for nearly 70 years, it should come as no surprise that Prine has literally tons and tons of cool Jeep parts. We’ll squeeze in what we can on these pages, but check out jpmagazine.com/prine_pt2 for lots of additional photos we didn’t have room for here. And for those of you who missed Part 1 of this story, you can still read it all at jpmagazine.com/prine.

Prine’s collection of three early prototype, or non-standardized, jeeps is his greatest pride. It’s hard enough just finding one of these, let alone one of each. And then restoring them to perfect condition is truly a labor of love. It was raining the day of our visit, so we didn’t ask Prine to drag his prized collection outside for photography, but we have more comparative detail photos of Prine’s three models at jpmagazine.com/prine_pt2.

The Ford GP is the most common of the three non-standardized models. Still, it’s estimated only 3,700 GPs were manufactured before the standardized jeeps in late 1941. The GP used a 119-cube Ford L-head four-cylinder that made 45hp and 84 lb-ft and connected to a Ford GP-7000 three-speed transmission. The Spicer 18 had a 1.97:1 low range and driver-side front and rear outputs. Axles were Dana 25 front and full-float Dana 23 rear with 4.88 gears and diffs on the driver side.

According to Jim Allen’s book, Jeep Collector’s Library, only 2,605 Bantam BRC-40s were built. Powered by a 112-cube Continental L-head four-cylinder that made 45hp and 86 lb-ft, it utilized a T-84 three-speed transmission and a Spicer 18 with 1.97:1 low. The axles were full-float Dana 40s front and rear with 4.88 gears and once again, they’re unusual driver-side diffs. Again, according to Allen, more than half of the BRC-40s produced in 1941 were shipped overseas as part of the Lend Lease program, so finding one in this country is pretty rare.

The most rare of the three pre-standardized models, only 1,555 Willys MA vehicles were built. Of those, only 27 are known to still exist today. Prine has found at least two of those. One was sold to a friend for a paltry sum and the other you see here. After an extensive restoration, Prine’s MA is the pride of his collection. The engine is the much-loved 134-cube Willys L-head four-cylinder that in the MA churns out 60hp and 105 lb-ft. The T-84 three-speed tranny and Spicer 18 with 1.97:1 low turn Dana 25 front and full-float Dana 23 rear axles with 4.88 gears. Unlike the Ford and Bantam vehicles, the Willys employs the familiar passenger-side T-case outputs and diffs we normally associate with ’71-older Jeep vehicles.