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Easy Project? 1938 Willys Pickup

Willys-Overland Motor Company was born in 1908 through a series of mergers led by its namesake, John Willys. It was one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the early days of the “horseless carriage.” The company almost went bankrupt during the Great Depression but rebounded when they began producing Jeeps during World War II. This 1938 pickup, likely a ½-ton, is said to run, drive and stop, although we must wonder how well given that the photos show it on shop rollers. Located in Bedford, New Hampshire, this project awaits a thorough restoration. It’s available here on craigslist for $18,000. Thanks for this cool tip, T.J.!

The Willys trucks were redesigned in 1938 but still relied on 4-cylinder power, a 134 cubic inch flathead engine. It was rated at 48 horsepower with fuel delivered via a Tillotson 1-barrel carburetor. As was customary in the day, the motor was paired with a floor-shifted, 3-speed manual transmission. The pickups were more streamlined than before with a slanted windshield, headlights integrated into the fenders, and a one-piece rounded hood that was transversely hinged at the rear. If you wanted one of these new, you’d have ponied up $530 in 1938.

We don’t know a lot about this Willys (pronounced like Willis) other than it has 22,000 miles on the odometer and doesn’t seem to have any rust, although there is an assortment of dings. Apparently, the trunk runs but since the seller implies he wouldn’t trust it over 45 mph, some work is going to be needed. We don’t know how many of these trucks were built, but Willys and Ford together would build 637,000 Jeeps for the war effort just a few years later. Willys disappeared into Kaiser Motors in 1953 and then further into American Motors in 1970.


  1. Todd J. Member

    These must be as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays. The only time I’ve seen one in the flesh was in a junkyard about 40 years ago. I hope it doesn’t get rodded.

    Like 20
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Wikipedia shows the pronunciation of his last name as “Will-iss”, as in “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?”. NOT Will-ees, as is “Putin gives me the willies”.

    Like 16
    • Vince H

      They were always called willies but John North Willys was pronounced willis.

      Like 2
      • Lou Rugani

        I recall in the day that the announcers pronounced it “Willis”.

        Like 0
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Surprised to see this one stock, so many were turned into race cars. 48 HP on tap had to geared really tall to put 800 to 1000 lbs on back and travel around. Sure is unique styling.

    Like 9
  4. Jerry Bramlett

    This same truck was listed on Barn Finds in May of 2021: https://barnfinds.com/rat-rod-or-restore-1938-willys-pickup/ At that time it was up for auction on eBay in Fresno, California.

    Back then it had some “minor spots” of rust and a poorly done patch repair on the driver’s floor. I see that it’s now “100% rust free” according to the current Craig’s List description. Other than that improvement, and the fact that it now runs, it looks to be the same as it was a year ago.

    Like 5
  5. Michael Garner

    What a sweet looking project.

    Like 3
  6. Howard A Member

    This is another of those vehicles, I don’t think I’ve ever seen in it’s stock form. Many of these became either gassers or pullin’ trucks. Since it’s appeal as a pickup truck from the 30’s is long gone, it’s most surely destined to become a race truck/ clown wheeled concoction of some sort, I’m amazed it hasn’t been turned into one already. Pretty cool find, none the less.

    Like 6
  7. pickin Member

    It’s also listed on Ebay now !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like 1
    • Jerry Bramlett

      I can’t find it on eBay, and the Craig’s List ad has been removed. Would you please supply a link to the eBay ad?

      Like 0
  8. Karl

    Sure in a unique looking vehicle! And I mean that in a good way. I think this is going to an item that is either bought by someone with history in a vehicle like this or, well you all know the OTHER! I would like to see it exactly as it rolled off the line!

    Like 4
  9. Terry

    My buddy had a 38 coupe that ran b/gas back in the sixties. It was bought from the original owner old spinster lady school teacher.

    Like 2
  10. John C.

    That old boy is in pretty good shape and really I hope someone keeps it original, but from what I understand a 40 pickup (maybe even the repro) front clip will fit right on there, giving it the 40 Willys look. (if it is hot rodded). Someone made a nice find!

    Like 1
  11. matt

    Nice truck !!
    Most of these seem to get modified heavily, I hope this one can stay in stock condition. You don’t see them unmodified very often… at least I haven’t seen that many.

    Like 3
  12. Ron

    Would make a cool gasser…. Someone had to say it…

    Like 1
  13. Ricardo Ventura

    A mortal sin to turn this truck into a hot rod. It would be a waste.

    Like 6
    • Jimmy Novak

      That goes without saying, but I’m glad you said it. Thank you.

      Like 0
  14. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I looks like the car started out a cream/beige color, then somebody painted it purple? I never could get behind painting a car purple.

    Like 0
  15. john menucci

    I have one exactly like it. Mine is a 39 same front end interior, I need a seat and a fuel pump. Mechanical brakes LOL.

    Like 0

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