Fantastic 4×4: 1955 Willys Utility Wagon

Is there still a Powerball? I haven’t heard anything about it in months now and I could sure use a big win, my vehicle wish list is getting longer every day. One that would certainly be in my 1,200-vehicle storage facility would be this 1955 Willys Utility Wagon, this really looks like a winner. This rugged beauty can be found here on eBay in Polk City, Florida. The seller has a $14,500 buy-it-now price listed.

The Want-O-Meter is pegged on this thing, In fact, I think it broke the needle and is on its second time around. I know that a few of you have owned similar Willys Jeeps so please fill in any missing info in the comments section. We normally only see somewhat beat and rusty versions, but this looks like an outstanding example. The seller says that it’s solid front to back and the underside is, too – it sure looks solid underneath. They have included great photos of this wagon inside and out and plenty of them, well done!

For 1955, Willys was out of the car business and the Willys Jeep Station Wagon was renamed the Willys Utility Wagon – by then the company was owned by Kaiser. That reminds me, I need to get a Willys Aero, too. So many vehicles, so little time (and, money). This wagon has had the floor pans replaced at some point according to the seller and they reportedly look great. So there was rust on or in it at one time. It has new Firestone tires that look great with a perfectly-aggressive tread but not monster truck tires as a lot of these have. They mention a small leak from the rear axle which should be taken care of.

The interior looks amazing and I’ve just installed an XJ-2000 drool guard on my keyboard. The seller says that the interior is a 9 out of 10 and I think they may be a little light on that assessment, but they must be humble. I’m the furthest thing from being an expert on these vehicles but I can’t see any glaring issues at all inside, other than maybe the seats may have been a two-tone color and I don’t know if the front armrests would have been made of wood. Quick question: would the door strikes have been painted from the factory? If not, that’s a big pet peeve of mine on restorations when those sorts of things are painted body color.

The rear cargo area looks great as does the back seat and everything else, although, wouldn’t the rear seat be a 60/40-type split seat? This rig is probably cleaner than any of my vehicles which is a bit embarrassing, not to mention it’s much cooler than anything I own. I can’t imagine how fun it would be to show up at: 1) A car show. 2) A photo assignment. 3) A friend or relative’s house. 4) Anywhere – in this beastly beauty. It should have a Borg-Warner T-86E 4-speed manual, but as you’ll see, the drivetrain is a bit of a mystery.

The engine is… a flathead V8?! I’m not sure what the story is here but it should have a Kaiser Continental 226 cubic-inch L-head inline-six with 115 hp. The seller doesn’t give us any clues as to why this one has a V8 and there’s really no information given to decode what it might be, but it starts fine, runs great, and doesn’t leak or have any other weird issues. Any ideas what it is? Whatever it is, it makes it even more enticing, although the six was a great engine. Hagerty is at $15,400 for a #3 good condition vehicle and $24,300 for a #2 excellent condition vehicle. This seems like a screaming bargain to me and why I haven’t, I mean why someone hasn’t clicked on the buy-it-now button is one of life’s greatest mysteries.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sometimes I amaze myself. I saw this Jeep and somehow the dendrites thought of Terry Thomas in It’s a Mad mad mad mad World. So I googled that film, and here’s the Jeep he drove. But I forget what I had for dinner last night.

    Like 20
    • Robert White

      That’s because ‘diner last night’ did not get downloaded into Long Term Memory storage as that kind of information is useless unless the diner was really bad and you don’t want to repeat that gustatory error lest your tastebuds rebel.

      Neuronal synapses fired when you saw the Jeep. The dendrites are not the storage mechanism but the synapses are transcoded to fire memory for long term storage retrieval.

      Bob

      Like 4
    • Ken

      A flattie is an interesting choice for this thing.These wagons came from the factory significantly underpowered.

      My wife and I watch It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World pretty much every fifth New Year’s Eve or so. I remember seeing it as a kid when the ABC station in Yakima, Washington aired it every New Year’s in the 1970s, so I guess it’s a tradition. My three brothers and I would eat pizza, chips and dip, and drink pop, and stay up until the ball dropped (If we made it that long.)

      So this wagon immediately made me think of Mad World. A lot of young people hate it; some of the reviews at IMDB trashing it are so vicious you can almost see the spittle flecks on the computer screen. There are some really angry people out there these days. If you don’t like a film, fine with me, but there’s no need to get apoplectic about it. Chill out; you’ll live longer.

      Like 3
      • Rex Kahrs Member

        I see that you got my joke Ken, even if my neurology reference wasn’t quite perfect.

  2. Todd Zuercher

    Looks like a flathead Ford V8 to me. Certainly not out of the question as an engine swap candidate back in the day when this rig was very young. Folks did all kinds of crazy swaps into these rigs in the late 50s/early 60s.

    Like 9
  3. Dave

    Flattie is a nice touch but with the fuses unprotected from weather I would avoid exposure to rain.

    Like 2
  4. Howard A Member

    As some may already know, I had several FFW’s. I’ve seen them powered by many things, but the Ford V8 is a new one on me. Mine had a 307 GM, and an adapter plate for the Willys trans, which I’m sure they did here. While power was their biggest problem, the V8 should take care of that, but unless something was done to the gearing, you aren’t gaining much. It’s a nice unit, although, anyone that has one, will tell you they are a bit crude, fun, but crude. I’m just not sure I’d spend a years SS payments for one.

    Like 4
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Early ’50s Ford. My mother’s ’53 two door hard top has the same exact engine. The cooling hose outlets on the heads are the give away. Looks like a nice, clean installation to me.

    Like 7
  6. Ken Cwrney

    My future BIL would love this wagon. He’s a Jeep man through and through.
    Like Howard, I’ve seen these powered by
    almost anything under the sun. The last one I saw saw had a flip front end and a
    327 Chevy under that flipping set of front
    fenders. Overall, I like it a lot but I think
    I’d add some wood trimming to the raised
    and lower panels on the body from the cowl back just to add some spice to an
    otherwise mundane paint job. Don’t think
    anyone saw the flatty coming but it’s
    definitely different and it works really well. The wagon itself is great and should sell quickly at that price. Wonder
    if Mike’s seen this one yet.

    Like 3
  7. Dan B.

    Nice wagon. Worth poking around to see more detail, but looks great in the photos.

    FWIW, stock transmission was the T90 three speed.

    Good luck to the seller and hopefully the buyer makes it over to http://www.OldWillysForum.com.

    Like 2
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You’re right, Dan, but I was going by what this one had for an engine originally which was the 226 inline-six, according to the VIN, and that came with the 4-speed. The T90 3-speed was on the 134 ci inline-four models, from what I understand.

      Like 2
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Flathead V8s were fairly common for these out west. They weighed about the same as the 226 and actually took up less room under the hood. It seems to me that Hemmings Classic Car even did a feature on one over in ID, as a Driveable Dream. But that was also over ten years ago. Anyway this truck should be a great addition to one’s collection flathead and all…

    Like 4
  9. George Louis

    It would be nice to know what the original price of these were in 1955. As far as your WISH LIST maybe you would consider a Sears Allstate Car as well!!! The Power Ball Lottery is alive and well The Jackpot total for Wed May 20, 2020 is $95 Million dollars and if that is not enough you can play Mega Mlllions for Tuesday May 19,2020 for a mere $274 Million dollars.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Hi George, took a while, but I found a 1955 6-226 4×4 wagon cost $2,420 new, or around $23,300 today.

      Like 1
      • George Louis

        To; Howard A : Thank you for supplying that pricing information, Do you think that is kind of pricey for that era?

  10. Sid Member

    I had a 2WD sedan delivery that also had a flathead when I bought. It looked like it was born there. Someone should know why so many seem to have a flathead. Possibly factory Ford running gear that made for any easy swap back in the day??

    Like 2
  11. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    A vehicle on my bucket list. I bought a Jeep wagon shell and put it on a late ’70s K5 blazer chassis. It’s just sitting on it, wheelbase is perfect and I can live with the width difference. The problem is the engine sits about 5 inches too far forward. Looks to be pretty easy to move eng/trans/ transfer case back far enough, but rear driveshaft will be really short. Will have to stay with stock lift or u-joint angles in rear will be severe. Moving drivetrain back and down should make it do able. Now just need a few more years on my lifeline to get everything done!

    Like 4
  12. Vince H

    We had one in 1960 that we put a 283 in. Used a adapter plate like Howard did.

    Like 2
  13. Gene

    This has the same conversion … and a lot less $$$

    Please view this ad:

    1952 Willys Jeep Station Wagon in running condition,
    https://www.kijiji.ca/v-classic-cars/red-deer/1952-willys-jeep-station-wagon-in-running-condition/1486302220?utm_source=com.google.android.apps.docs&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialbuttons&utm_content=app_android

    Price: $ 2,950

    Download the application from the Google Play Store.
    https://tinyurl.com/9x9f4jd

    Like 1
  14. lbpa18

    I have the one I grew up in that was our family’s primary vehicle for roughly thirty years. Ive had it for near that long myself. Dad put a SBC in it years ago and PS for my mom. Except for those, its original and no rust. Rust is the biggest thing with these. This one look clean and if rust free, it should bring a premium, all else changeable with a set of tools. You sort of asked what is not original. This has a few departures from stock but none bad. The back seat would have been a mirror of the front seats except the small seat was on the driver’s side and they both folded forward. There wouldnt have been carpeting under the original wood strips in back and those strips are homemade without the original pattern. The arm rests were originally upholstered. Our door striker is not painted but that’s easy to fix with a wire wheel on a grinder if it is. The paint is not an original color, and it would have had the 226 and three speed as mentioned. They never came with four speeds. All those said, I think this is a really nice, tastefully modified, Utility Wagon. I think the asking price is even a good value. But any potential owner needs to understand they dont drive or ride like today’s soft rigs. It was a work truck and built well. That’s why they’re still around if the rust didnt kill them. They’re easy to work on and a blast to use in the woods. I hope this goes to a happy home.

    Like 5
  15. Guggie 13

    In 1963 my Dad had a 1951 Willys wagon just like this one , it came with a tired 4 cyl , We acquired a flat head v8 from a 53 Mercury , a conversion adaptor from J C Whitney a little cobbing and we were in business , made a great jeep !

    Like 2
  16. Mike

    When I was in highschool l worked summers for an IH Willys dealer. He sold one of these to a guy who rolled over in the woods and totaled it. My boss bought it from the insurance company and put a Jeepster body on it. He had the only four wheel drive jeepster i ever saw.

    Like 1
  17. Charles D Woosley

    Yes those jeeps came with the ford flathead v8. I live in Irrigon Oregon and last winter I met a guy that had two. One was like this one and one was a pick up. Both were forest service vehicles, Canada. Years ago I bought a book called The Jeep Bible, in that book it explains of that flathead and shows pictures of a 4 door vehicle too. The 4 door was made only for the telephone company and the forest service.

    Like 1
  18. TimM

    I had a 61 with spicer transmission and a 262 super hurricane motor!! (Could have been 252) can’t quite remember but it would go just about anywhere you could drive it!! Great vehicle if you don’t mind doing 45 miles per hour at top speed!!!

    Like 2

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