Desert Domiciled 35 Years! 1952 Willys Utility Wagon

Earlier in the week, we covered this 1955 Mercedes 170 and I made a reference to a neighborhood family that had a collection of gearhead sons, one of whom favored a Mercedes 170S. Well, the others had a passion for early ’50s jeeps like this 1952 Willys Utility Wagon. I believe there were two in the family, along with a Jeepster, and none of the three possessed regular everyday operating characteristics but the kids had big fun with them. That memory was immediately reignited when I spied this Willys wagon. It’s located in Tuscon, Arizona and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $2,701, with 44 bids tendered so far. Thanks to Dayle G for this find!

The seller makes a statement of, “In the cab, I see 3 shifters” which is a peculiar way to reference the interior or this Willys in general, it’s almost as if the details are not really known and this is just a fast flip or a sale being handled for someone else. He further adds, “the interior needs a lot of resto too from sitting in the desert heat for 35+ yrs“. That’s certainly true, it’s a ruined environment that will need a complete makeover. That said, the floors do look solid and the seller claims as much. The five-digit odometer reads 23K so that’s at least once around.

So, is this wagon the original SUV? Introduced in 1946 and penned by famed industrial designer, Brooks Stevens, approximately 300,000 Utility Wagons (4WD) and Station Wagons (2WD) were sold through 1964. The iconic Wagoneer (SJ), also designed by Stevens, replaced the station wagon/utility wagon in 1963.  While the lines of this utility wagon are unmistakable, the exterior details are somewhat obscured by the results of many years spent in the southwestern sunshine. The attached 1973 Arizona license plate has additional date stamps applied but they are not legible and the seller claims that its desert sojourn lasted about 35 years. That said, it does appear to be complete and not suffering from rust-through. There is a noted dent in the passenger side and most of the glass will need to be replaced but structurally, this Willys, including its cargo bed, is intact and shouldn’t require a lot of fabrication. Be sure to check out all of the included images, they are numerous!

Power is or maybe was, provided by a new for ’52 F-161 Hurricane in-line six-cylinder engine. Replacing a flat head six, the 90 HP Hurricane displaced 161 CI and, based on the torn valve cover sticker, appears to have been referred to as the “Mileage Maker“. Of course, according to the seller, it “ran when parked” but I’m not certain how that would be known. Apparently, the engine is not seized as it turns over by hand but as far as trying to start it goes, you’ll need a screwdriver, the keys have been lost. A three-speed manual transmission transmits power, when running, to the rear axle and 4X4 transfer case.

So, original and together this Willys Utility Wagon is, but it’s going to need a ton of work, including mechanical, electrical, interior, and aesthetics to bring it back to road-worthy status. What do you think, is this wagon a viable restoration candidate?


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  1. Arby

    Now that’s patina baby…

    Like 4
  2. Gator Member

    Beautifully baked to a golden crisp! 🤣

    Like 2
  3. RJ

    My cousin had one of these in ’67 or ’68. I helped him move from CA to MI with all his possessions in back – including a large brick ceramic kiln. Needless to say, our pace was leisurely. But – we had no mechanical issues.

    Like 6
  4. Rick

    Patina on wheels.

    Like 1
  5. Ken Carney

    Hey Mike, here’s one for you! I saw this
    and I thought of you. Just slide some
    modern Jeep running gear under it, and you have the best of both worlds. Or,
    you could use it as parts for the one you
    still have. That’s what I’d do with this
    one. Always liked these but never had the chance to get one. Maybe I’ll think of getting one after we move.

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Hi Ken! After my injury I think I am going to sell mine. Give me a call after you move I will give you a smoking deal!

      • Ken Carney

        Sounds good to me Mike! But take it easy on my checkbook
        won’t you? I’ll have a lot to do making repairs to Mom’s house after my no good BILs trashed the place. Gonna be
        busy with the contractors for a while, but I think I can see
        it parked under Mom’s carport.

        Like 1
  6. jJohnfromSC

    I believe the 6 cyl. Super Hurricane was the engine you refer to which replaced the 4 cyl Hurricane, with the final O6 cylinder being the OHC Tornado in 1962.

  7. CJinSD

    Sold for under $3,500. It was about a grand more than it is worth to me, but probably could work out if a shop can be found to turn it before the republic ends.

    Like 1
  8. John L.

    The engine is a 215, or 223 CID Ford engine. Most likely a 223. Easy, and popular swap in these back in the early 60’s.

    Like 1
  9. Steve R

    The seller is a dealer of some sort. If you look at his completed listings, he’s sold 11 other vehicles within the last 90 days.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  10. Al

    Buddy had one,49, I think. Was in the early 60’s. Both floor boards were gone. We used it for ice fishing. We’d drive it out on Saginaw Bay here in Michigan, and fish through the holes in the floor. The good ole days. Thx.

    Like 1

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