Face Off: ’73 Chevy C/K Special VS ’46 Willys CJ2A

Face Off Willys VS Chevy CK

In our second installment of the Barn Finds Face Off, we set our sights on the coming warmer months and thoughts of meandering through the wilderness with a sturdy camping vehicle as our trusty companion. That’s why we chose these two bastions of rough roads with proven brush-busting abilities: a 1946 Willys Jeep with a Bantam trailer for hauling extra gear, and an original 1973 Chevrolet C/K 2500 Camper Special that’s just a camper shell away from being ready for a night under the stars. You’ll find the Willys here on eBay with the reserve unmet and bidding at $2,600, while the Chevy C/K hasn’t yet garnered a bid at its $300 starting price, but can be found here on eBay.

Willys Bantam Trailer

Over the years, my attraction to the original Willys models has grown. From their history in serving U.S. military operations to their simple yet functional design, I have immense respect for their capabilities. A CJ2A could be a fun way to spend summertime with the roof off and the bed packed with sleeping backs and foodstuffs, while the jerry cans would haul the extra fuel needed for the journey. This particular example includes a nifty Bantam trailer that would make true off-roading difficult, but would be perfect for traversing to a camping spot in a National Forest site. What’s my favorite features of the civilian-friendly CJs? The introduction of new colors that went beyond the original Pasture Green and Harvest Tan. This one appears to be a rendition of Normandy Blue, a perfect shade for climbing into some mountain ranges.

1973 Chevy CK 2500 Camper

Next up we have a vehicle that was designed from the factory to ignite a spirit of wanderlust in truck shoppers looking for a new rig in the ‘70s. There’s not a lot of information out there on these factory specials, but one thing is clear: they were designed to accommodate a heavy camper shell on the bed. You can still see the mounting points on the fenders where the metal bars would go to provide extra stability to the front of the shell, which has obviously been lost along the way. Heavy duty springs, shock absorbers and battery were typical features, along with an engine oil cooler, larger-capacity generator and fuel tank shields. Since this one has the rear stabilizer bar, it might even be a “Deluxe” Camper Special package. Throw a shell on the back and tackle some basic deferred maintenance and this Chevy C/K will be ready to make a home wherever you want it.

1973 Chevy CK 2500 Engine1946 Willys CJ2A Engine

So, with our second Face Off in the books, which one of these weekend rigs would take you further off the beaten path? While neither of them would be the best choice for rock-scrambling or fording a river, they’re interesting choices as utilitarian classics that can both be useful workhorses around town and then take you and some friends into more rural areas for some quality time away from cell phones and email. I have a feeling the Willys will command a higher price than the Chevy simply due to its rarity and a loyal following among enthusiasts, but the C/K 2500 is a future classic in the making, with a handsome design and proven durability. If it had a vintage camper attachment on the rear, this might be an even closer race. Which one would you choose?

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Comments

  1. flamikey

    If used for camping trips, The Chevrolet hands down….I had a Willys once, and the thing redlined at 45mph…I would get them both, and tow the Willys for 4 wheeling…

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I can get parts for the Chevy ANYWHERE in the US. No-brainer which one I want to take into the backwoods.

  3. Vince Habel

    I sold these back in the day. This was a nice package when new. The 454 was not a performance engine at the time. Had plenty of torque though.

  4. jim s

    of the two i would be more interested in the chevy because it could be used on road also. i too had a jeep from that time frame, with a power takeoff and a snowplow, and even 30MPH was real fast in mine. nice finds

  5. William H

    Having owned a number of close variations of each it’s be hard to pick one over the other. While they may have some overlap in function, they are really quite different as far as usage, IMO. Even though most of the Jeeps I had were street legal, they definitely were not practical for transportation. Top speed was only 40-45 mph but it was pretty much unstoppable off road. If it could get traction, it went. I only ever got one completely stuck. I drove off into an unseen ditch in the middle of a field and ended up hanging a bumper on each side with the tires barely touching. I couldn’t figure out why the front wheels weren’t spinning thinking I had broken something. Turned out that I didn’t have the 4WD or the manual front hubs engaged. Once I engaged everything, it pulled itself right out. Certainly one of those “wish I’d never sold it” vehicles.

    As someone mentioned in an earlier post, just buy both and tow the Jeep with the Chevy.

  6. JimmyinTEXAS

    My dad had a chevy like this, same color and everything. It is bidding at 643.07 as I write this. Maybe someone can part it out and make a few bucks. A different wheel and sheet metal damage on the passenger front doesn’t bode well. May take more than it is worth to straighten the front end….

  7. crazychevy

    Chevy all the way!! The Jeep is cool but for off road only. The parts for the Chevy are very easy to get and not very expensive. Two very good things to look at when buying an old ride!

  8. charlie Member

    Agree with all of the above, the price on the Jeep is right – one in my neighborhood, all original, l948, well worn, overdrive, well taken care of, run only in summers, went for about $9000 two summers ago. Offered $3500, was laughed off the lot. Was going to use it off road after having gone through by a guy in Carson City NV who specializes in them. But 45 mph is about all you can do without blowing the engine.

  9. whiskey runner

    this is a hard one.. like several had said a man needs em both.. drive one while towing the jeep… but if I could only have one and needed to get somewhere way off the beaten path the jeep would have to be the one….. slow and steady will still get you there.:)

  10. DT

    Ok ….C is a 2wd, K is a 4wd…..this is a C,nothing Id be interested in.A 454 just makes a lot of noise between gas stations.I have a m-1008 similar to this but its 4wd and a Diesel,makes a lot more sense.Still not the greatest vehicle but its OK.when I want to move a big load M-1008s are 5/4s ton,so good for hauling water or stuff really heavy.I do like Bantam trailers tho

  11. Givengold

    DT is right with the name. C/K was the Chevy truck from 89 on. Before Silverado took over.
    This would be a C10 or C15.

  12. erikj

    im with the chev all the way. I do have a fondness for the jeeps though. I have a 73 gmc serria grande 2wd steapside that is quite cool.it has the orig. 454 t400/12 boly pozzi with option # 2 gear package 4-11. also fac. tach,tilt special seat and headliner and low milel. ITs for sale if any one is interested Erikj

  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    Really tempting but the Chevy would be a lot more useful to me. It has a drive train that is virtually bullet proof. There were some problems with the Chevy’s fuel economy but, after working on them a lot at the dealership level, our shop could get them into some respectable mileage despite their size. Besides, in the Chinook belt, we are subject to some rapid weather changes and it’s nice to be able to shut the weather out.

  14. Don Barzini

    You had me at big block. I can live with the oil leaks because I love the torque.

  15. grant

    3/4 ton Chevy for under a grand? All day long….

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