$4,500: 1951 Willys Jeep Wagon

This southwest vehicle, a 1951 Willys Jeep Wagon, is on Craigslist with an asking price of $4,500. It seems like a lot of green goodness for $4,500. In 1950 Willys-Overland created the classic v-shaped grille and while that may not seem significant, what is significant is that in 1949 when they added a 6-cylinder and 4×4 to the mix, they created what was arguably the first SUV. NADA lists a 1951 Willys-Overland Jeep wagon as being valued at $4,275 on the low end and $12,100 as an average. This one is definitely on the low end, there’s a lot of work to do here, but it would be a nice project. I believe this is a 4×4-73 model. The seller refers to it as a model 63 so I may be incorrect. Anyone?

This “Jeep” seems like a good deal, a very good deal so far, doesn’t it? The body looks pretty solid, but you can see some waviness on the bottom and I’m guessing that there’s a solid layer of body-filler in parts of that lower body. There are also several issues with other areas, such as missing door handles and broken glass (that sounds like a rock band), but since this is flat glass, hopefully that won’t be a huge expense to replace.

This one has obviously been repainted, unfortunately. I don’t understand why that happens, but to each his/her own. Not a heck of a lot of care was taken with the repaint, again, unfortunately. I wonder if they were getting it spruced up for resale. It would have been so much better to spray it the original color if that was the idea. I think it was originally a bronze color. The seller says that the “paint & stainless bright work in excellent shape w/only a few spots rust on the body.”

There are really no overall interior photos, just oddly-close detail photos. That’s always a red flag to me. But, as you can see from just this one photo above, it’ll need a lot of work on the inside, too. That original bronze color and a red interior would be a fantastic combo, I’m not sure what the interior color would have originally been. Anyone? They say that the “interior is in decent shape, but DOES NEED WORK! Has all the original seats. Gauges are original equipment & all of them work.”

This is the Willys “Hurricane” F-head 134 cubic inch inline-four with around 70 hp. You can see what I assume is the original body color under the hood. I love green vehicles (both in color and drivetrain) but I’m a sucker for originality or restored-to-original-specs so I would definitely bring this one back to its original color scheme. The seller adds that the “motor, front differential, hubs, trans & transfer case are all in good working order.” The $4,500 price is firm and it’s “priced well below what it’s really worth.” So, grab that shoebox full of $10s and $20s that you’ve been saving and head to Albuquerque, New Mexico and then take an extended road trip back home driving your “new” 1951 Willys Jeep Wagon!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Close, Scotty, it’s just a “473”, introduced in 1950. I had a 1950 with a SBC ( a 307,2 barrel with adapter plate and original trans.) and while the SBC was the cool part, the rest was a miserable vehicle. I ended up finding a ’51 pickup, and put the engine in that, and was a much better unit, although, still dangerous as heck to drive. The wagon shook and rattled, poor brakes, and steering, terrible ride, and no heat to speak of. The pickup, while still had many of those misgivings, at least it was a pickup, and not a giant tin can. This is a good price for this, as for some reason, novelty perhaps, prices have gone through the roof. With a top speed of about 50 mph with this setup, something has to be done if you want to drive this. From experience, I’d go with a pickup.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Howard, question for you. I almost bought a Willis pickup a while back that I would not have been able to see in person first…decided not to because I was concerned about what people said about the contorted driving position. I’m not a small guy–what’s the driving position like in a pickup?

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Jamie, yeah, the pickup was a little tight for a bigger person. With the stock sea, it was not unlike riding on a buckboard. The wagon would be a better choice, as no problem with headroom, if you can handle the wagon, that is. Might be a bit of a stretch to push on that starter pedal though( in front of the shifter) Oh, believe it or not, I think this is actual mileage. ( did I just say that?) You didn’t go very far with these, as equipped.

      • Howard A Member

        Seat, apparently, no edit on early access.

    • Scotty Staff

      H-A, wasn’t the 473 a two-wheel drive and the 4×4-73 a 4-wheel drive? That’s what I found in doing research for that one. I found several sources that list 4x4s as 4×4-73 and rear-wheel drives as either 473 or 4-73. Time to get Pat Foster on the horn..

  2. Mark

    There’s a quirky habit of some Craigslist sellers to close their ads with “God bless”. Although I appreciate a good benediction as much as the next guy, I’ve found it’s typically a red flag when buying a used car. Like the fellow who insists on telling you how honest he is before unloading some whopper. Anyone see the movie, ‘Flywheel’?

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Mark, I know, CASH TALKS! God bless. I think this person is up front though. It is one of the better CL ads.

  3. jcs

    The wear and tear on the gas pedal makes me wonder about the mileage, although I do agree that driving these things down the road was not exactly pleasant. Of course, only 70 HP tended to make drivers stomp on the gas pedal looking for more.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi jcs, that starter pedal required some fancy foot work ( try pumping the gas and not the starter) That could wear the gas pedal too.

  4. Puhnto

    Looks just like the one Terry Thomas drove in “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!”

  5. RicK

    Weird that they made this design from something like 1949 until 1962, not the longest design carryover for cars manufactured during the latter half of the 20th century (i.e the Wagoneer that replaced it lasted until ’89 I think and the 240 series Volvo was made for many years). Motorcars overwhelmingly during the same period this model was made underwent a major transformation, this style must have looked totally dated by 1955.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rick, I think one reason, there wasn’t a big call for these. People didn’t venture out with 4×4’s, ( especially ones that went 45 mph and no heat) like they do today, and there really wasn’t anything else like it, so why change? It wasn’t until others jumped on the bandwagon with either outsourced 4×4 wagons, or their own, this really was dated by 1963. The Kaiser Wagoneer that replaced this, was really a breath of fresh air.

  6. John Hess Member

    I had a 50 Jeepster W/6cyl. & OD, that was great, ran down the road, was comfortable. Had a buddy that had the wagon, sat it on a Bronco(older) and then that was OK. Original brakes were weak, put a booster on the Jeepster and it helped. The Jeepster was only for touring Naples, always got “thumbs up”, but did run it on the highway occationally

  7. Duff

    Nobody has mentioned the locking hubs. We take them for granted now but at the time, from what I recall, that was a pretty expensive aftermarket purchase.

    • Dave Wright

      Hubs for these lighter duty vehicles were not that expensive….they all had them soon after they became available, it was a huge upgrade for a hundred bucks or so. Better fuel economy, speed, steering……

  8. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Some of you might have heard this before, I use my !960 Willys wagon as my daily driver. I was going to take her to the Village today for a Bloody Mary before the Packer game but she had a flat tire. At minus 4 degrees I elected to stay home and putz with the tire later. If you read Howards first post on how they ride, he is dead on. Part of the reason I drive her daily. Mine is the Super Hurricane, 6 cylinder. 50 is about top speed without the overdrive. I will say my heater works great after I plugged some gaps with some old blue jeans. 45 seems a little high to me. Jamie, from what I have read at Old Willys Forum, the pickups, like Howard said are a little tight. I really enjoy mine. The cool thing about being a car guy or gal is that other car cats do not give a rats ass what you drive. I will try to post a snow photo, never had much luck with that.

    Like 1
  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    One more time.

    Like 1
  10. Rustytech Member

    The prices on these are astronomical for a well restored vehicle, I’ve seen several bring over $30k over the last couple years, makes me wish I’d bought the 4 I found several years back for $1000. We had one on the farm when l was growing up, it was I think the first thing “car” I learned to drive. I remember it well, it rattled, it shook, it was creaky, it was so noisy you couldn’t talk to the guy besid you. But it never got stuck, it was easy to fix when you broke something, and it always started when you needed it to. Many fond memories.

    Like 1
    • JKR

      I agree. I had a 1957 Willys and loved it. I pulled a cop, who had chains on his tires, out of a snow drift in the Cascades once, with a pinky swear to never let anyone in town know. Part of the charm was the shakes, rattles and hydraulic wipers. Loved it. Nowadays, if you break down, repairing yourself is improbable. But working on it, though rare, was simple.

  11. Guggie 13

    Had one of these in 1964 , 4cyl died , bought a conversion kit from JCWhitney put a Ford Flat Head v8 in , whole new world after that would actually go 50 mph !!

  12. Dan B.

    Overdrive (bolts to the transfer case) and dual master cylinder for the brakes are the two of the best upgrades you can do. That and check our OldWillysForum.com. Great community there.

    This one seems overpriced IMO, but hey – it’s a free country. GLTTS.

  13. racer99

    Back from the days when trucks were meant to be trucks. Will never be a cruise-down-the-highway kind of vehicle without major surgery. My friend had one of these years ago and it was used and abused as a work and snow plow vehicle and left to sit when something comfortable or quiet or warm was needed. Also seems overpriced to me but we’ll see.

  14. Doug Towsley

    Everyone who commented on the agricultural operating experience is spot on, These were no frills working machines, Heck look at early Toyota 4x4s as well. I knew a bunch of people over the years who had these, the pickups and the Jeepsters. Personally I REALLY REALLY like the styling of these and the pickups and everyone I knew modified or upgraded theirs and had good fun with them, but anyone expecting Cadillac Escalade experiences out of one is sadly going to be very disappointed. That being said… I would take one of these over some modern plastic machine any day. If you hit a deer on a country road where i live with a modern vehicle its gotta go to the body shop for a few months and up to $3,000 to $8000 in repairs, One of these?? Get out the garden hose and wash off the blood and fur. Carry on Soldier.
    Pix courtesy of one of my favorite cartoonists. Bill Mauldin,

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