4-Wheeling: 1956 Willys Wagon

1956 Willys Wagon 4x4

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After showing my wife the Corvair Rampside that had been pulled from a field, fixed up and driven from Colorado to California, she decided we should find a vehicle to do the same in! So I’ve been on the hunt ever since to find a potential project. We want something we can camp out of and when I spotted this Willys Wagon, here on eBay in Arvada, Colorado, I thought it might have potential. Sadly, there is one issue that is keeping me from bidding on it and that’s 4 wheel drive. For once, it isn’t the lack of it, quite the opposite to be honest as it actually has it. For a long distance highway trip, I’d rather have 2 wheel drive. Now, if you are looking for something to use off road or just need something surefooted, you’ll want to take a closer look at this Jeep!

1956 Willys Wagon Interior

I really do wish this truck was 2 wheel drive. If it were I would seriously be looking into buying it. While it would be nice to have off road capabilities, I’d rather save myself some money on fuel. That’s money that could go towards repairs and upgrades. I sure like the looks of it though! Wouldn’t it look great with the Barn Finds logo painted on the side of it? I guess I’ll just have to keep hunting and let one of you snatch this rig up instead. And if one of you do decide to get it, please let us know, so I know who to be jealous of!

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Cool find. To be clear, the 4wd wouldn’t get any worse mileage than a 2 wheel drive, thanks to the front lockouts. I’d think a bigger problem would be using this on highways, as it probably has the 4:88 or 5:13 gears, which translates into 50-55 top end. There is an old saying, if a flathead turns over, it will run. How well, is anybody’s guess. I had a 1950 like this with a 307 Chevy V-8 in it, and it was no fun. The gears were wrong and the motor hollered. The truck was tinny, rattled, lousy brakes and steering, and I never saw the rear seats mounted like that. They were usually one behind the other, but who knows. I swapped 3:90 gears, but that still wasn’t enough. I got a ’51 pickup and put everything from the wagon into the pickup, and was a much better unit. Best thing for this, is keep it 4wd, but put the body on a late model 4×4 pickup, but again, the pickup Jeep is a lot better. Nice to see these are still around. They made a jillion of these, but few survived. Most saw plow duty and are long gone. If anything, try and find a panel one of these for the BF’s logo. Good luck finding one of those.

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    • Doug Makofka

      On the plus side of the 4×4 is that you can mount an overdrive in the pto opening on the transfer case.

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  2. robert

    Got one of them to. Has a hurricane engine, factory winch, and complete. I’m second owner. Engine rebuilt with receipts from original owner. Make me a offer in San Diego County.

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  3. DirtyHarry

    I think in any configuration, these are terrible highway vehicles. Having made many long trips, I think I was happiest in the VW pop-up camper. Robust with good vision and so easy to camp from.

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  4. don

    i found one and bought it w/2wd when stationed at lrafb in 1969. it had no engine or trans so i put a 283/3speed in it and regret ever selling

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  5. Hans Grafftenberg

    I have an all original 2wd 4 cylinder model and im waring you, It;s not a highway vehicle. From the factory they came with 5.38 gears so its tongue is hanging out at 45mph. The whole truck would have to be modernized to be driven on the highway because the brakes, steering, and suspension all suck too. Just a fun car to drive around my small town.

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  6. HoA Howard AMember

    I’ve never seen the hood hold down things in the middle of the hood like that. They were always at the front corners.

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  7. Glen

    love it

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  8. Damien Hebert

    Mine is a 1958 4wd wagon with the Super Hurricane flathead 6. Like others have said, reasonable top speed is about 45-50mph. Any faster than that and the motor is winding up pretty tight. Lock in the hubs, shift the transfer case into low range, put in first gear and you can pull anything. I’ve had mine for almost 25 years and am the fourth owner, I am friends with the last two owners.

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  9. Robert White

    This Willys 4×4 is in ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ and I have wanted this particular Willys for about 40 years now. Unfortunately, my lottery win has not struck yet, but if it did I would buy this vehicle in a heart beat.


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  10. Craig

    Lol I had a 48 as I recall, same color, flipped the axles under the springs, put big tires on it, put in a Chevy 6 banger truck engine in it. Drove It from Cincinnati to Colorado in the early 80s, and yes it’s a terrible freeway ride. BUT it was awesome in the mountains. Took it over the pass from Telluride to Silverton or ridgeway as I remember. It would crawl anywhere over anything. All over the state, cripple creek, Craig, Durango, aspen, four corners, capital reef, steamboat springs. Those were the days.

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