Beach Find: 1961 Willys Gala Runabout

It’s not uncommon to find an old Jeep in a barn, but this particular one is a different story! This is a rare Gala Runabout model and these were typically purchased by resorts in popular vacation destinations for their visitors to buzz around in. There were about 1,1000 built so finding an original one in this condition is unheard of today. It’s located in Salt Lake City, Utah and is listed here on eBay.

These cool little cruisers were based off the DJ (Dispatcher) that was used for Postal carriers and such. They were bare bone runabouts that featured a column shifter and rear wheel drive. That makes sense when you consider their intended purpose of cruising around tropical paradises on mostly paved roads.

The under dash heater is a head scratcher though. Perhaps it was installed after retiring to Utah? Or maybe it just didn’t want to make the long journey to Hawaii or Acapulco? It would be interesting to know the full history behind this one and how it ended up in a barn. One thing is certain, those floors look really good if it lived by an ocean or even a salt lake…

The seller gives a lot of general information about these rigs, but not much else. This one supposedly came out of a large collection that had been stashed away for 45 years. The drivetrain is going to need to be gone through and there are no photos provided of the engine in the listing. From what we can see though, this does look like a killer find and we hope the next owner is wise enough to keep it as original as possible. Could this be the perfect summer project?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Cool find. Surrey’s had a lot of TV and movie coverage. Gomer Pyle drove one, The Nutty Professor drove one, even the King himself (Elvis) had one. Don’t plan on any 4 wheelin’ with this CJ however, it’s 2 wheel drive, and the “Go-Devil” motor won’t win any races either.( but can be held wide open for days) I knew someone once that bought a postal Jeep because they always wanted a 4 wheel drive Jeep. You can imagine their shock when I pointed out no front drive axle.

    Like 12
    • packrat

      Wow. I got to sit in the Gala that is at Graceland, once owned by Elvis, on the tenth anniversary weekend of his death. I didn’t know it was a special edition until today, over thirty years later–but I remember that distinctive upholstery on the seats.

      Like 5
    • Mgctony@aol.com

      Well I had on of these, was fun
      Pink stripes and all
      It went around the family for a while till the brakes failed on s steep incline and a house got in the way
      Fun memories
      Tony G

      Like 2
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    First dibs on the hubcaps! Great shape, almost 9K though. I wonder if this Gala rig will hit 1st gen Bronco prices?

    Like 6
  3. canadainmarkseh Member

    Hidius colour if it were blue or even brown it would look better then this. Pink is my least favourite colour so this would not be for me. I do think it would be a fun summer run about though and should probably be left original just not for me.

    Like 4
    • scottymac

      Grew up in northern Ohio (rust belt), and our mail carrier drove a ’55 Crown Victoria painted titty pink and white. He kept that thing patched together and on the road for over 20 years. Always thought it took a brave man to drive a car that color.

      Like 2
  4. marc

    a true barn find ! i love it , it brings back to life a great ara, and it wont hit bronco prices , however , it;ll hit a good no! i bought a porshe 912 ,so i’m tapped out at the moment!

    Like 1
  5. Alan G

    Barbie approved!

    Like 16
  6. Ike Onick

    Unfortunate choice of name and color.

    Like 6
    • PatrickM

      …especially considering the BF guidlines.

      Like 1
  7. Jon Martin

    Looks like one of the Jeeps Las Brisas in Acapulco used to run guests up and down the hill that the hotel was built on. The “rooms” were actually “casitas”, either single or duplex style that each had a pool. Nice place.

    Like 4
    • Ray Smith

      When we were teenagers (around 1980) my dad actually bought us a pink and white Jeep that belonged to the Hotel Las Brisas. Still had the lettering on the sides. Talk about getting a lot of attention. I remember it also attracted the cops attention after dad may of had “one too many”. We put many abusive miles on that thing including rural paper route duty. It just wouldn’t die. Fun times and good memories.

      Like 11
    • Jack Quantrill

      We rented one there at Las Brisas, back in ‘66. Y.A. Tittle, the famous quarterback was late, and we got his. Fun, riding around Acapulco before the beheadings took over!

      Like 2
  8. Dovi65

    Nice find. I’m sure it will sell for quite a few coins. It would make a great runabout for a summer cottage, or tow behind an RV for use around the campground.
    I like the color, tho the pink striped top is a bit much for me. Hoping it gets restored

    Like 5
  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    I remember when I was a kid, you could get a (all steel) Tonka version of this. When I was in the store I had the choice of the Jeep or the gravel truck; I chose the latter.

    Seeing this one, I’m reminded of Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii. The resort had a stable full of them.

    As far as this one goes, I’d be tempted, if I had the resources and the space. But someone else will have to assume the stewardship of this icon….

    Like 8
  10. Dick Johnson

    Perfect vehicle for the Susan G. Kommen foundation’s events.

    Like 9
  11. Lance G Nord

    I saw one of these for sale that had been restored…. not that long ago. I don’t recall the price, but I was thinking it would be a fun vehicle to have if I had a house on Hawaii.

    Like 1
  12. Beatnik Bedouin

    Barbara Eden drove one in ‘Ride the Wild Surf’. I thought the driver was more attractive, but not as attractive as Susan Hart (who co-starred with Shelley Fabres and her).

    Like 9
    • PatrickM

      Let’s talk about he blue ’52 Chevy!

      Like 2
  13. glen

    How can it be a jeep, with 2wd? Pink no less! I feel sorry for this thing.

  14. SC/RAMBLER

    According to “special interest autos#161,Sept/Oct 1997 the reason for the odd colors it matched the outside colors of the Las Brisas hotel..In 1960 the Surrey was offered in additional colors Cerulean blue and white, Fountain Green and white. Willys, like AMC was a small independent company trying to increase sales through various marketing strategy. While the pink and white it not everyones cup of tea, for it’s original purpose it was a perfect colors combo

    Like 7
  15. Puhnto

    When I first went to Hawaii in 1966, my friend and I rented one just like this for a week. It was great fun. They were all over the place back then. (I mean all over the place in Hawaii.) There were two other colors too. Baby blue and white, and a sea-foam green and white.

    Like 5
  16. Jeepster

    Notice the spare was relocated to the back. The original 4 mounting holes on the right rear can be seen along with paint discoloration from the factory mount.
    ( always mounted at an angle – had a commando with one )

    These are so different from what a ‘Jeep” is supposed to be in the public eye, the bizzaro world pink striped jeep, neato.

    Like 1
  17. Biff Howard Tannen

    The original homestead owner of our subdivision at North Lake Tahoe had a blue one during the early 60s. I wasn’t yet old enough to get a driver’s license, but I snatched it and took my siblings and other friends for a ride until we ran out of gas. Fun times.

  18. RicK

    In the early 60s used to play Tonkas with the kid across the street, he had several the full-size Tonkas including the Tonka version in pink (mentioned by geomech above) and in those days mini-Tonkas had not come on the scene yet, anyhow I never picked the Jeep to play with, couldn’t deal with the fact that it was pink (even as a 7 yr old) and instead I always played with his State Hi-Way Dept set.

    Like 2
  19. Tom Member

    Ah yes, the pink Surrey’s – the saddest of the early jeeps. I’d be embarrassed driving one of these but my 12 year old daughter would love it.

    Like 1
  20. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I don’t remember the name of the movie, but Elvis made a movie in which a girl owned a dude ranch and drove one of these. If the price don’t get redicouless I think I’ll bin on it.

    Like 1
  21. cyclemikey

    Pretty cool old buggy; I had almost forgotten about these. The most noteworthy aspect of this listing is the apparent compulsion it seems to induce in a number of commenters to reassure everyone that they aren’t attracted to it.

    :)

    Like 3
  22. Capt Doug

    A fleet of these in the Virgin Islands in the 60’s were rental cars.

    Like 1
  23. Fitz61

    I had one for the duration of my honeymoon in Las Brisas Acapulco in 1984. Lots of fun and great memories, I just lost my wife to cancer after all those years.

    Like 1
  24. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Dang….rare to find is this condition….yep I wouldn’t mind owning and driving one.

  25. RoughDiamond

    @Fitz61-My deepest and most sincere condolences on your wife’s recent passing. What great memories from Las Brisas Acapulco 1984 to cherish forever.

    Like 5
  26. Ken

    I hope people here don’t pronounce it “Willies.” The man who started the company was John North Willys, and his last name was pronounced “Willis.”

    Like 3
  27. Michael sweeney

    Hi there. My family and I have a pink one now we just began restoration on. We own an upholstery business on Long Island ny. My grandfather purchased it in the 60’s. We are looking for any information we can gather for the restoration. If you have any it would be a great help. My email is sweeney1964@yahoo.com. Thanks in advanced

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