1948 Willys Jeepster
1948 Willys Jeepster
Tracking the design history of today's sport utility vehicle is something few will consider thinking about for the next several decades. For many, there's nothing “sporty” about them; they're just gas-sucking behemoths that get the kids from school to soccer practice, and back to the house in time for the latest microwave dinner. Jeep, though guilty of manufacturing such uninspiring machines today, once had a very different vision of the sport utility. As evidence we present the Jeepster, first introduced to the public on April 3, 1948, as a sporty vehicle that a growing family could have fun with.
For consignment, a 1948 Jeepster that is a two-wheel-drive convertible designed by Brooks Stevens. Stevens and Willys hoped that returning World War II GIs would scoop up these fun-loving drop tops as soon as they rolled off the assembly line. They are perhaps one of the most overlooked, but interesting, vehicles in the storied off-road maker's past: a sporty automobile rather than an off-road vehicle, never offered with four-wheel drive or in any commercial guises during the four-year stint. This open bodied car, an ever-increasing rarity as the Fifties neared–also has a spot in history as the last true phaeton offered by a major manufacturer. While having undergone a prior restoration, I'll agree with our consignor and say this is an above average driver quality classic.
The beneficiary of an older restoration, all rust is gone, and all problem areas have been attended to. Red now covers these panels, which are fairly straight, and have good gaps only showing a few notable scratches on the driver's door and rear fender. Chrome is rust free but is showing signs of crazing and haziness. A nicely preserved chromed “T” bar front grille embellishment sets off the standard Jeep looking front of this car? A black window surround as well as a black above the belt line painted bodywork goes nicely with the white convertible which has a slightly hazed over rear window. Chromed wire spoke wheel covers with just a hint of black steel wheels underneath showing, are wrapped with wide whites. At the back of this vehicle is an additional hanging spare tire. Interestingly the rear bumper sports Willys Overland script, which prior to the end of the run they were stopped by a lawsuit from the federal government by being sued over the use of Overland?
A bit of a climb up the chromed steps in front of the rear fender, then on the top of the fender, but it will be worth it, as this is a really fun driver. Front seats are later model white vinyl bucket style seats with minor soiling and a vinyl bench seat brings up the rear. Doors are painted the same as the body and have a white cardboard like panel screwed on to them. The metal dash, also in red, has a chromed rectangular dash insert with the gauge cluster. A nice plastic white steering wheel complete with circular horn ring, fronts the dash. Beautiful black carpeting is shown throughout and remains tear free.
Floating within a well sorted out engine bay is the Lightning 148ci flathead inline 6-cylinder engine making 72hp. It is black, so based on Willys folklore and some fact, this car was tuned for the below 5000 ft level of altitude version. A 1-barrel carburetor sits proudly to the side and a 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive that can be used in 2nd and 3rd gears. Plenty of room for wrenching if need be. Bringing up the rear is a Dana 23 4.88 geared axle assembly.
Very clean, virtually rust free, and any repairs were made under here, it is hard to spot them. A sturdy X frame helps with the overall structural stability with the lack of a solid top. Transverse leaf springs up front for the suspension, and leaf springs on the rear, and drum brakes for all 4 corners.
Having been on the driving end of a few Jeepsters in the past I'm familiar with the starting procedures. Choke out, pump gas, depress the starter pedal. With all of this completed it rolled right over, idled very smoothly, and off we went. Drives great, and the top down was an extra bonus. It will not take your toupee off, but it will get you there, and supposedly the history of the Lightning engine proves it extremely reliable and durable. It handled well to boot and was most definitely a fun drive that will turn heads. We did notice that on a few occasions the transmission would pop out of second gear.
A wonderful piece of automotive history, all buttoned up on the body work, undercarriage, and engine. Not to mention the spacious and comfortable interior, this snazzy little post war pre SUV Jeepster is simply a blast...from the past.
Classic Auto Mall is a 336,000-square foot classic and special interest automobile showroom, featuring over 600 vehicles for sale with showroom space for up to 1,000 vehicles. Also, a 400 vehicle barn find collection is on display.
This vehicle is located in our showroom in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, conveniently located just 1-hour west of Philadelphia on the I-76 Pennsylvania Turnpike. The website is www.classicautomall.com and our phone number is (888) 227-0914. Please contact us anytime for more information or to come see the vehicle in person.
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