The Long And The Short Of It: 1961 Willys Projects

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And this is the good side! Here’s a pair of 1961 Willys projects that both need some help, but of different types. One runs and drives (but doesn’t stop!) but has serious corrosion issues; the other has a really solid body but is disassembled. Hmmmm! They are located in Mount Vernon, Ohio and are up for sale both for one price here on eBay. The opening bid is $2,500 and there’s no reserve. Thanks to Jim S. for this find!

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And here’s the other side. Just a little rust, right? The seller tells us this one has been off the road since 1974 but has been stored with anti freeze in the block. It starts and runs and drives, but there are no brakes. I do like the two-tone color scheme. The seller says this one has the four-cylinder engine and a three-on-the tree shifter for the manual transmission. It’s also only two wheel drive.

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And here’s the short one! A lot of body work was done in the past on this shell, and it even has a wheeled dolly built specifically to roll the shell around. Those are “new” quarter panels (I’m hoping that’s brown primer and not rust, but I fear the latter) and the seller says the only rust are sections around the gas pedal and rear tailgate. The seller has included videos of both cars–check them out in the auction listing. This one comes with a solid frame, but either the engine or transmission (or both) are locked up. It is the six-cylinder version rather than the smaller engine though, and the drivetrain is four wheel drive rather than two.

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Back to our first candidate. This is the interior. While I don’t think there’s a lot of soft goods to be saved here, it would get you patterns and material types if you wanted to restore either vehicle. Remember, this is a Jeep, so there’s not a lot of creature comforts here!

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Ultimately, you are probably going to either have a whole lot of labor or more money into this combo than it’s worth. But I’m wondering if you would, like me, combine the best parts of the two into a single vehicle and keep spares, or try to refurbish them as a pair. Let us know what you would do!

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Comments

  1. Rob

    Well that’s a no-brainer, obviously use the good body, 6-cyl, & 4×4 set-up (as nobody wants a 2-wheel drive Jeep), and use the unique trim etc and front end of the other to build a ‘driver’.. Scrap the rest, as I’d bet that’s what the owner was planning. :)

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  2. Bruce

    Great little vehicles! Back in the early 60’s my cousin and I would use one of the older short one’s to play “Daktari” on my uncle’s farm. One of us would drive while the other would sit on a front fender, and try to lasso pigs that would occasionally escape from a neighboring farm. Great fun, but politically incorrect on so many levels.

  3. Howard A

    While the 2wd was a little more civilized, these were miserable vehicles to drive. This model ( the 2wd one) was actually one of the nicest of these models, ( was called the “Maverick”, from the TV show at the time) and that’s still not saying much. They were under-powered, heavy, hot in summer, cold in winter, rattled, shook, lousy brakes and steering, truth be known, without the 4wd, there were much better 2wd wagons to buy. I had several of these, a ’51 wagon ( with a 307 Chevy) and I didn’t like it one bit. (Well, I liked the 307 Chevy part) I ended up buying a ’50 pickup, and put the Chevy motor in it) Modern gearing is a must, as these had like 4:88 or 5:13 gears, maybe 45 mph max. These are getting rare, and looks like everything you need to make one good one, 4wd, of course. Cool find, I’d love to get another pickup someday, not the wagon though.

  4. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    After owning my 1960 for a year I have to agree with Howard. But , it is a blast to drive! Living in rural Wis. I use it as my daily driver when I am on the bench. As mine will only do 50 with 4:27 gears, you do have to drive with one eye on the rear view mirrors. There is great support, with Old Willys Forum and venders that sell about every thing you need. Not enough time left for me to do this project, but it would be nice to meet her on the trail someday.

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