Freshly Restored: 1946 Willys Jeep CJ-2A

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Ahead of the close of WWII, Willys-Overland decided to launch a civilian Jeep that was on par with those produced for the military. The result was the CJ-2A, a mass-produced early SUV that went into business in 1945. Nearly 215,000 of them would be built through the balance of the decade. This 1946 example has been fully restored and only needs tweaking to be ready to romp. Located in Baytown, Texas, this Willys is available here on craigslist for $10,600. Our thanks to T.J. for this cool tip!

The CJ-2A was close in appearance to its military counterpart. Differences included larger headlights that were flush-mounted. The engines were the same, but the T-84 manual transmission was replaced by the further evolved T-90. Earlier models were produced with surplus parts that were leftover from wartime production. Willys’ target audience was farmers, ranchers and others engaged in agricultural and industrial endeavors. They were basic machines, but the list of available options was fairly long.

This Jeep looks like it just rolled off the assembly line, having been treated to a frame-up restoration. It looks as though no efforts were spared to make this vehicle correct in every detail to its original day of manufacture. For whatever reason, some minor touches weren’t completed, like giving it a tune-up to be 100% ready to roll.  If you’ve been looking for a post-war Jeep like this, it might be hard to find one that comes across any nicer.

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  1. Todd J. Todd J.Member

    Ad says: “Needs minor tune-up to be 100%.” Well, tune it up, then! Still, if this were in my state, I’d go check it out, it looks pretty nice.

    Like 9
    • 19sixty5Member

      Yep, give it that minor tuneup and ask $11k It does make you pause for a minute wondering what the seller’s definition of “minor” is.

      Like 4
      • Corky

        I kinda thought the same thing !!

        Like 1
  2. Gary

    If it’s as nice as it looks it’s a steal at 10k.

    Like 3
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Wow, I don’t think they looked this nice coming out of Max Klingers hometown. Certainly the definition of “nut and bolt” restoration, I’m speculating, the seller did not do the restoration, and doesn’t know anything about it. Probably running with the choke out( grandpa, what’s a choke?)
    Naturally, $10g’s a lot of scratch for something of limited use, and that’s another thing, this thing belongs in a museum, if any left, that is. Running this through the woods almost seems like a crime. 99% of these looked like this once, they ALL led a rough life, it’s original intent. They were created for sole purpose of being utilitarian. You could get a slew aftermarket attachments, from plows, to buzz saws, to bucket loaders, scraper blades, welders, rear PTO for dozens of machines, there was nothing like it, and I venture to say, never will be. I have a friend, now in a nuthouse, when he was a kid, his parents owned a golf course, and he drove the Jeep like this with a bunch of gang mowers.
    My YJ is but a shred of this, but you know, as “modern” as it is, I still feel a connection to its roots,,right here. Just can’t say that about a Toyota, sorry, and I realize religion has no place here, but God bless the Jeep!

    Like 9
  4. joenywf64

    Can i assume this has a horn & the button to activate it is on the dash?

    Like 0
    • CharlesMember

      It is the rubber button in the center of the steering wheel .

      Like 2
  5. Bwana

    I thought surplus Jeeps after the war were supposedly cheap to buy. I have seen ads from the era with them in a wooden container with already filled up wheels/tires sitting next to them. Is that a myth? If it is true, why would anyone buy a new factory civilian model?

    Like 0
    • Todd J. Todd J.Member

      I think that the “surplus jeep in a crate for $50” story is more myth than reality. I always understood that state and local governments got first crack at surplus jeeps and then veterans could apply to buy them.

      Like 0
      • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

        Agree Todd, Those stories get started and then people begin to think they’re real. Like the old lady that advertised a Chevy for sale that turned out to be a Corvette. I’s all bologna.
        God Bless America

        Like 0
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Ah, yes, the “surplus military Jeep packed in cosmoline”( awful stuff)” in the Popular Mechanics want ads circa, 1972 for $52 bucks, planes $75, typewriters $6,,oops, too far, all for $1.00! What you got, I read, was a list of upcoming military auctions, usually took place in a giant storage facility, with crates stacked to the ceiling, with a number. You then bid on the number, and it wasn’t always a Jeep. I have heard of people purchasing them, one person claimed his father bought 4 once, and put them together. After numerous Jeep lawsuits, the government destroyed all surplus Jeeps.

      Like 2

    The MB Jeep in a crate is most likely a myth. Of course I wasn’t born until 1951 so what happed immediately after the war I cannot say for certain. It was a popular car though, and Willys Overland sold a lot of them as surplus and their civilian clones, the CJ-2A.The wartime jeeps are still in demand to this day, although little remains. The Jeepney of the Philippines is a blinged up Jeep for example.

    Like 0
  7. 19sixty5Member

    My dad came across a bunch of Popular Mechanics magazines from just after WW ll that I enjoyed reading in the late 50’s or early 60’s. I remember the ads for “war surplus” items in the back, some amazing finds. The one that sticks out to me was for complete upper machine gun turrets from a B-17 or another heavy bomber. They were complete from the plexiglass domes to the bottom mounting rings or whatever they were called. Electric motors, seat for the gunner, everything except the actual machine guns of course. If I remember correctly, they were like $59.95 or something crazy like that. Brand new Army surplus. I remember ads for the Jeeps also, they were also equally as cheap, but they were not advertised as new in the crate, they were as-is, may or not have been complete, could literally a pallet of parts.

    Like 1

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