When Steve B. found his ‘51 Willys Jeep pickup truck on eBay, he decided to throw in his bid. His brother had a Willys and he liked it. Steve was needing a truck to use for deliveries for his business and doing them in a classic had appeal. He won the truck and picked it up in San Jose. He was the second owner, the original owner having used it as a ranch truck for better than five decades, with only 45,000 miles showing on the odometer. Over those years, many changes were made by the previous owner whose auto philosophy seems to have been, “If it will fit, use it.”
The original flathead four cylinder engine has been replaced with a 289 CID V-8 from a ‘62 or ‘63 Studebaker with an Edlebrock four-barrel carb, a Chevy generator and a Ford starter. Although the Borg-Warner three-speed manual transmission and Spicer transfer case for the four-wheel drive are original, the front and rear axles are from an International Scout. Although most of the truck was in decent condition, especially for its age, there were some problems, mainly with the wiring. Zip cord, like that used for wiring household lamps, had been used for some of the lights and was so poorly spliced that the headlights would go off or back on when he hit a bump. Under the dash was a maze of wires, some going nowhere. With the help of his dad and his brother, the wiring is now working fine. Steve still has some improvements he plans on doing, such as replacing the balky vacuum motor for the wipers with a dependable electric one, but does take it on Roamin Angels’ functions. It’s main use, however, is exactly that for which he bought it: a work truck.
Steve added a cedar cage in the back to hold his cargo. The front winch is driven by a PTO off of the transmission. It has three speeds forward (or out) and one reverse (back), just like the transmission. Willys made their pickup from 1947 until 1965, with all of them being 4WD after 1950.
Story & photos by Ron C. © 2008