1951 Willys M38 Jeep: A Worthy Find

1951 Willys M38 Jeep

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Mike C recently came across an interesting barn find and after seeing Bob’s military grade Powerwagon, thought he would see what we thought of his military issue Jeep! He wasn’t too sure if it was worthy of a feature, but I can assure him it is! Here is Mike’s story in his own words – Not sure if this is worthy of a Barn Finds story, but I’m happy with my find!

1951 Willys Jeep
Here is my latest purchase! A friend of mine Josh W, was talking to his friend at Church and he mentioned he wanted to sell his Jeep.
I already have a 1959 Willys with round fenders, so he mentioned it to me and a couple of friends also. I was not really interested in
another project, but said I would like to look at it. We head into the back side of Hampshire, TN and proceed down a .72 mile driveway.
We get to a farmhouse with a huge barn and met with the owner. We go open the doors to the barn and there was the M38 all covered
with dirt, cobwebs, bird and wasp nest’s! He explained he used to run cattle with it, and had drove it into the barn about 10 years ago and
parked it. It took a couple of days to make the deal but it’s mine now  :) It is a 24 volt system, so there will be a learning curve, but I will drive it eventually.

Our thanks to Mike for sharing his find with us and we wish him the best, especially with learning how to work on that 24 volt electronic system!

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  1. Mike d

    now, this one is a worthy find! being in the south it will have little or no rust. I know nothing of the mechanical makings of this,l, most likely ” performance” parts aren’t available as with the big Humvee auction, it was stated that they can’t be used on the road. I can see this being used by someone who has a lot of property , or maybe someone who has a ” youth camp” ( not for the campers) not having to do much and having a lot of fun

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    • Mike Chandler

      Thanks! Got it going, top road speed is 45 :)

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  2. RayT

    Definitely worthy of attention!

    My learning curve would be steeper than MikeC’s, especially when it comes to the electrical system, but I’d love to have one of these in my garage.

    Admittedly, I’d want to change back to original wheels — shod with Gravediggers, of course! — and give the M38 a dignified retirement.

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    • Mike Chandler

      I started to go the stock route, but so mmuch had been swapped, I opted to leave it like it was and get road worthy. I have a friend who an tally has 2 Ford Jeeps. He goes back completely stock. They are awesome.

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    • Dave Wright

      24 volt systems are wonderful. There is nothing to learn except how to connect 2 12v batteries in serise. Engine starting is incredible with starters that turn much faster. 24V. Bulbs and the like are readily available. Sometimes finding a 24 V starter or Alternator can be challenging but if you have them, any good shop can do a rebuild. This jeep will probably have more waterproof electrical issues. Those parts are more uneque than the general 24V stuff. Waterproof spark plugs, distributor wires and caps are around but probably not at autozone.

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  3. L.M.K.

    Love it. Wish more pictures were available …..Good luck with it….

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    • Mike Chandler

      Got it going ;)

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      • L.M.K.

        Thanks for the pictures Mike ! Looks great …How much did it take to get it going again?

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  4. Mark E

    I do not understand why this article would NOT be worthy of this site…
    – 1951 vehicle
    – Found in barn
    – Hadn’t been driven in a decade
    What’s not to like? Hopefully someone with experience in milspec vehicles will chime in but I am thinking the 24 volt system was a requirement for the military and, considering the car, er…jeep is 1951 it should be reasonably simple to replace everything with a 12 volt system and alternator. That is, unless Mike C wants to restore it to original. Then my hat’s off to him and his efforts and I wish him good luck!

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    • Kenyon

      What’s not to like is that some people only feel intelligent when they’re saying negative things in comments. Has happened to me on every car I’ve shown here (and I really do like the service otherwise, BAT).

      There’s a few folks that just need to show how smart they are by telling everybody why something’s a failure – too many doors, too much rust, not enough whatever.

      The solution is to read their messages and spot the glaring faults in logic, faulty assumptions, and poor grammar so that you can avoid taking such authors seriously.

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    • Mike Chandler

      I’m still using dual batteries to allow use of the foot starter, some of the system had been converted to 12. I completely rewired the whole system adding a turn signal circuit to be street legal. It’s fun to cruise down the road at a top speed of 45 mph :)

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  5. 1969Deuce

    It would be a shame to change the voltage and sometimes those jobs end up botched and causing trouble. A MV 24 volt system is simply (2) 12 volt batteries wired in series. As long as he keeps using standard electrical replacement parts for an M38, there’s really nothing to learn. They are plentiful. If he wants to add 12v accessories, the correct way to do it is to add a 12v converter to the 24v system and take 12v power from it.

    It’s a great find, as was the WC.

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    • Mike Chandler

      The previous owner had changed most already. I did retain dual batteries to keep the foot start.

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  6. Charles

    We had a 53 model. Continental industrial four cylinder engine. It was a nice off roader and farm vehicle. Our had a PTO and we ran a small Bush Hog behind it to cut the grass along the sides of the roads. You can keep the 24 volt system and still use some 12 volt items buy connecting the 12 volt items to one battery. Use the battery that has it’s negative terminal connected to ground. Attach 12 volt items negative to chassis ground as you normally do with a 12 volt system, then attach the 12 volt power lead to the positive terminal on the grounded battery, pulling power from one battery only. We installed four way flashers, turn signals, brake lights, and a radio to the vehicle this way and ran it for 20 years like that.

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    • Mike Chandler

      Thats basically what I did also ;) They had took most of the 24v stuff off already.

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  7. guggie

    Nice barn find , enjoy it as is !!

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  8. Tirefriar

    The license plate alone is worth an honorable mention. Great find and thanks for sharing.

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  9. Jim Bob Willy

    (WSS) What Size Swampers on that baby, they look like 34″ ??? LOL

    Had a CJ2A here in Vt, miss it terribly, up on top of the mountain in the fall in the middle of the night>> WOW what fun. I put a rebuilt 225 Dauntless V6 in it, Power Locker LSs F&R, D27 in front, D44 in the rear, new springs & shocks, new Armstrong 11.50/32″ TrueTracks, they were good tires for the trail, mud and snow, but they don’t make them any more. now that my son is older I sure wish I never sold it !!

    WSS ??

    good luck, I’m happy for you Mike

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  10. Mike

    Super Swampers are 33×9.5’s They were on it when I got it, I had rather have the 2 piece wheels though ;) I have to have it rebuilt because I fill it up with oil and check the gas now! I also have a ’59 CJ5 I just had rebuilt. I’m probably going to let the same guy rebuild this one although it took him 3 months to redo it. I furnished the gasket kit and he did labor and other parts for $950. I wish I had a hard top for them both. I cant take the cold weather like I did 30 years ago!

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  11. Jo

    I was lucky…I got the GI parts manual and the GI maintenance manual with my M38 when I bought it in 1972. All original military. A lot of parts are available from JC Whitney or there are a lot of salvage yards that just handle old military if you know where to look. Mine has sat unused for a while but that Hurricane motor has never let me down. Love ’em.

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