1953 Willys Pickup For $2,850


The 1948 Willys truck that I wanted to buy so badly recently has wetted my appetite for these small but useful trucks. The same basic truck was produced until 1965, giving me plenty of years to choose from. This 1953 is a bit far from me in Cottage Grove, Oregon, but the cab and bed really looks solid. You can purchase it here on eBay where the buy-it-now is only $2,850. The only problem as I see it is that it doesn’t run at the moment. The seller suggests installing a later drivetrain, but I’d really want to try to get the old 4-cylinder working. The engine pictures show interesting paint on the valve cover; someone must have loved this one at one point. I do like the white “spoker” wheels on a non-original truck; growing up in the 70’s I remember those being fitted to almost every pickup in town. Unfortunately, this is a little far for me – let us know what you think in the comments!


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  1. RayT Member

    I may be wrong (don’t think so) but never recall seeing an original four-cylinder Jeep of this vintage with an OHV engine. All “flatties.” I believe the “six” was an F-Head Wilys unit.

    I like the old Jeeps, but would go for a military, a wagon of an FC (which is rare). Pickups rarely interest me. But I’d love to see someone get it together and on the road.

    Like 1
    • Rob

      I agree with RayT, these old Jeep trucks are cool, but I’m holding out to ‘discover’ one of these FC’s, ’cause as a Montana guy, they really wet my 4-wheeling appetite.. :)

      • Matthew Tritt

        Krikey! Is this an actual FC model or a composite of some kind? Bitchen looking truck! Portal axles???

    • Scramboleer

      Hi Ray,

      The early Willys trucks and wagons had the flathead Go-Devil from the WWII GPW and MB. Sometime in the early 1950s, the F-head OHV like this one became optional. Later you could get the flathead 226 Hurricane 6 and starting in mid-1962, the 230 OHC Tornado.

    • Mary Lintz

      I currently own a 1952 Willy’s Truck with the 231 tornado engine.

      Like 1
  2. Matthew Tritt

    Not correct. These trucks came with either the 134 ci F-head 4 or a flathead 6. F heads have the inlet valves and rockers in the head and the exhaust valves in the block. The 4 cylinder produced about 75 HP and the 6 about 90. They are great engines but run best around 2,000 RPM – not well suited to today’s high speed traffic, even with an overdrive.

  3. JW

    I must say that jeep pickup has a interesting shifter handle. Rob you bet those are cool azz trucks.

  4. 1969Deuce

    My dad drove a city pickup like this when I was a kid. It would be cool to have but honestly, I think the stakeside had more utility and character and was a better deal at the higher price. I really liked that truck, homespun warts and all.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I did too. We really strongly considered buying it. And probably would have if I had seen that the owner added a $4,200 BIN the day after he relisted it…next time I checked it was gone…

    • Sid Member

      IMO the Willys Sedan Delivery is the coolest of the Willys.
      I told Jessie the location of one last year that could be bought.
      Maybe he will share if you are interested.

  5. RayT Member

    Thanks to all who straightened me out on the engine question! I’ve spent too much time looking at — and drooling over — early MBs, plus a Jeepster or two, I guess.

    When I was a teenager, and my dad got the J.C Whitney catalog every time it came out, I gave serious thought to building a Jeep from the parts they listed. They seemed to have everything! But even at JCW prices, it would have cost more than a high-school kid could afford. Never mind that I’d probably still be trying to assemble it….

    Rob’s FC photo is of a unit far fancier than I envisioned. The few I saw around SoCal were pretty basic pieces. Very cool, though, and I still want one.

    • Matthew Tritt

      Before you get to feeling like you really missed something you can’t live without, there’s one thing about the pre-Gladiator pickups – not the wagons – you should know…. The seat position is both way too far forward and the seat back way too vertical for resonably comfortable driving. I’ve driven a number of them long distance and know whereof I speak. The wagon is another story. I mechanically restored a 51, which had the F head 134 and all stock drivetrain, back in the early 90’s and the seats were great. The driver’s seat is moveable fore and aft and gives enough room for anyone to drive normally, whereas the pickup seat is so vertical that you need to scrunch around all the time to “try” not to get a sore back. You will, no matter what.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Matthew, that actually does make me feel a little better. My wife is small enough that she’d probably be OK, me not so much. Now I have to find one to sit in to see if I can fit at all! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Howard A Member

    Well, I guess, ask, and ye shall receive. I said if BF ever features a flat fendered Willys, and not 15 g’s, I was going to go for it. Let me just check my pockets. Nothing. Oh, well, it’s refreshing to know these are still out there. I had 2 of these, a 49 Wagon, with a 307 sbc, and a ’51 pickup, that I put the sbc in from the wagon and Matthew is right. While the sbc and a gear ratio change ( original was 6:17, I think) it was somewhat streetable, it was cramped, rough riding, noisy, doors popped open, lousy steering and brakes, and in it’s original form, would be a hazard on today’s roads. I live in a small town in N.Wis. and this would be perfect for running around town. While the shift knob is a little raw (this is a family site) the 3 shifters were, from l to r, main 3 speed shifter, transfer case in/out, and low/neutral/high shift.( brave drivers soon mastered the art of “split-shifting” with these, although, not recommended)
    This one is indeed well preserved, as with most 4×4’s in the midwest,they were relegated to plow duty, and withered away. Front cab mounts and that step floor inside the doors and rear cab mount usually went first. I see these in back yards and next to sheds from time to time, so you know there are still plenty we don’t see. Now, whether the owner wants to part with it, is a different matter. BTW, Dr. Joel Fleischman drove a flat-fendered Willys pickup on Northern Exposure, one of my favorite shows.

    • Howard A Member

      Oh, one more thing (Columbo), those tailgates with the “WO” on them ( Willys Overland) are almost impossible to find, I’m told.

  7. Dave Wright

    I bought a truck similar to this in the early 70’s when I was first in the service away from home. It needed a head gasket and after growing up in my dads automotive shop thought…….no problem. So, one weekend I went about pulling the head off (F Head with 1/2 of the valves in the head and 1/2 in the block) so, I bought a Hanes manual and reviewed it before beginning. Soon I had the head striped of head bolts, manifold and carburetor that bolted directly to the head casting but could not get the head to budge, so in my young mind I assumed it was just stuck from age, well time went on for a couple of weeks, I went over and over everything in the book and my young skull full of mush……it is still tight, so out of frustration I got rough with it, inserting a putty knife at first between the block and head then a small flat chisel, then there was the unmistakeable sound of a casting breaking but the head still remained. After going over the head bolt sequence for the 100th time and the 20th hour inspecting with a trouble light I found it. There is a head bolt index the carburator that just can not be seen or accessed without removing the carb and knowing exactly where it is. So, a value able lesson was filed away in my grey matter and I will never forget where that damn bolt is located.

    • Matthew Tritt

      Yep! I was fortunate to have an original shop manual that covered all Willys from 42 through 54, so the carb was the first thing to come off. Things I had the most and recurring problems with though, were the transmission and X-fer case.. The ring and pinion were also shot, but were basically pretty good. At issue was the fact that WO had fitted a light duty Jeep drivetrain to a heavy chassis and body, which is never a good idea. Clutches, gears and bearings were a constant problem and I got so that I could replace bearings in the transmission in place, and could R&R the transfer case in 1 hour flat. Not a testimony to fantastic automotive skills, just a comment on the build quality and mismatched drivline components. I was only in my 50’s then and could remove the Xfer case and transmission by hand; something that would absolutely flatten me now. The SOP for handling these machines these days is to replace the transmission with a later model 4 speed and later transfer case; this takes the strain off everything and makes them very useable (if not as nice interior-wise as stock). If any of you ever do find yourselves with one of these, AVOID Indian BEARINGS.

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