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Parked 40 Years! 1949 Willys-Overland Jeepster

While today’s Jeeps dial up styling as far away from “car” as possible, the 1948 to 1950 Willys-Overland Jeepster targeted buyers interested in the rugged reputation of the war-proven Jeep blended with more car-like comfort and convertible flair. This 1949 Jeepster in West Plains, Missouri boasts almost completely original parts including paint and nearly all mechanical components. Recently restored to roadworthiness after a 40 year hiatus, the Jeepster is said to run, stop, and drive “as it should.” The revived classic can be yours for $11,000 as offered here on Craigslist. Thanks to reader T.J. for spotting this interesting top-down ride.

One look at the dashboard and most Jeep owners will recognize…. almost nothing. Well into the 1990s the typical Jeep dashboard had all the style of a clothes washer, and most featured a flat metal panel with a utilitarian array of gauges. The seller describes how later seat covers and floor mats cover the tattered but still-present originals. Family friends had one of these when I was young, and a top-down Jeepster ride always meant fun memories for a young gear-head. The left-most positioning of the repaired original radio puts the driver in control of in-car programming, while a center-mounted gauge cluster offers telemetry to pilot and copilot alike.

Check out those cool side steps offering ingress and egress for rear seat passengers, providing the top is down. Traditional Jeep owners may feel jealousy toward this Jeepster’s long wheelbase, and its RWD-only drivetrain would be a blasphenous mutation for anything named “Jeep,” until recently anyway.

The rebuilt original carburetor draws fuel from a re-sealed original-style metal tank. The inline four-cylinder hails directly from the off-road Jeeps of the day. A formerly mouse-infested radiator runs cool today, and the heater works, according to the seller.

Plastic side curtains mimic the deteriorated originals, but the factory glass rear window remains. Slightly oversize modern tires compliment the original wheels and wheel covers. White wall tires would have been part of the package in ’49. Would you call this post-war Jeepster a car or a truck?

Comments

  1. Big C

    I’d call it a cool ride! A little overpriced, but what the heck? Guys want $12k for literal garbage cans they call Boss 302’s.

    Like 2
  2. TheOldGeezer

    I was 7 years old when these came out, and even then I thought it was a cool car. A neighbor owned one and I got to ride in it about once a week as he drove into town to pick up various items and paid me to “help” him load the back full of groceries and other items. He was a WW2 vet and I was his “adopted” son.

  3. JustPassinThru

    It’s forgotten with history, that ALL Jeep models were available with 2WD until 1966. The military derivative (called DJs on the serial plate; Kaiser-Willys tried various marketing names, like AgriJeep and Universal) could be had as RWD; of course the Basket-Weave station wagon. The J-Series (recristened SJ) also. Two-wheel drive Wagoneers and Gladiators were available until 1969.

    The only 4WD-only model was the C-101 Jeepster…the revival unit styled similar to the original, but on a different chassis. The Willys veterans remembered the mistake in making the original roadster only available with 2WD, and tried to reverse that in bringing out the CJ-6-based homage model.

    Only with AMC’s purchase were the 2WD models dropped in favor of only 4WD. Today that sounds like sound marketing, but at the time, 4WD was seen as unnecessary for most applications. Perhaps the Gladiator/J-series truck would have sold better in the 1970s, the beginning of the truck boom, with a 2WD model to compete with the Big Three.

    • Terrry

      I think 2WD Jeeps were made past ’66..Mail carriers used them at least through the 70s.

      • JustPassinThru

        Officially, those were made (after 1970) by AM General. Same owner (AMC) but different division and different plant (South Bend, the former Studebaker military-products plant).

        The AM General DJ-5 had a diverged evolution from the CJ/DJs made in Toledo. The 81-inch wheelbase continued (unlike the stretched 83-inch CJs) automatic transmission was used (unavailable in civilian CJ/DJ models). The frame and springs were similar to the discontinued M38A1.

        I think it was 1970 that the 2WD J-Series rigs were discontinued. The civilian DJ continued through 1973, I believe; and the C101Jeepster, later Commando, never was available as 2WD.

        I had, over the years, three mail jeeps. Had to learn all this sourcing parts.

  4. TIM J HAMMOND

    Many years ago my oldest brothers bought a Jeepster to do their paper route. As time went by, they had a friend install an Olds V8, a Chevy 4 spd and Cadillac rear end. Needless to say it was the fastest car in this small town.

  5. George Birth

    This one would be a blast to own and drive.

  6. Dwcisme

    I thought all these were bought up by Shriners. Seriously, I’ve never seen one without a Shriners medallion on it.

  7. Frank of Eden

    I remember being given a ride home from a Boy Scout meeting by one of the fellows Dad… in one of these, way back in the early 60’s. It was winter, very cold, and raining. A bunch of us boys were huddled in the back seat. The car leaked air all around the flaps that were used as windows, causing a lot of drafts, and rain to blow in, while the heater struggled trying to keep it warm. It was a fun ride, but I thought that it wasn’t very practical for winter.

  8. Larry D

    It looks like Willys-Overland found a deal on horn rings to use on these Jeepsters even though they didn’t match the steering wheel.

    Like 1
  9. Terrry

    If I had this I would update the running gear, but otherwise I’d keep it as-is.

  10. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Call it whatever you want, I want it! I have always wanted one of these ever since I saw a white on white on white ’67 in the early 90s.

    Like 1
  11. Otto Nobedder

    Marked as SOLD 10/5/22

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