Pet Project: 1965 M151 MUTT

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The seller refers to this 1965 Military Utility Tactical Truck, or MUTT,  as a project and once you look at the photos you’ll agree with that assessment. This pet project can be found here on eBay in Pompano Beach, Florida with quite a few bids but just a $1,000 price as this goes to press, so to speak.

This MUTT is much more than a rusty dog of a project, it’s a running, driving, 4×4 that someone could tinker with and use as it is now, albeit in fairly rough shape. Or, they could restore it back to like-new condition. A word of caution on doing a full restoration: there is a lot of rust repair to do on this one and values aren’t that high for a perfect example. But, if you do most of the work yourself it would be a fun project.

Jeep, Ford, whatever… Just kidding, of course. Most humans would automatically refer to this Ford-designed vehicle as a “Jeep”. Did you notice the horizontal grille slats? Ford wanted to differentiate their prototype General Purpose (GP, i.e. “Jeep”) vehicle from the Willys prototype that was ultimately approved by the Pentagon, and the rest is history. The M151 entered military service in 1960.

The seller mentions that this one has turn signals, which you can see in the photos, and they didn’t appear until 1964, at which point the M151 was referred to as the M151A1. The seller refers to this one as a 1965 M151 so it’s a little confusing, or maybe I’m just confused. One of you may know the exact model and year of this example. There are no photos showing the gauges or steering wheel and there is rust in quite a few areas of the body and floors. Replacement parts are available, however.

The most common engines were Hercules or Continental four-cylinder engines and I’m not sure what this one is. The M151, from 1960 up to the 1968 model year, had a rear swing axle which made them somewhat dangerous and prone to flipping over on tight corners at speed. The US Department of Defense thought that they were so unsafe that they recommended that they not be driven on public highways. A stopgap solution was a rollbar system, which this one doesn’t have, so take it easy out there! Have any of you seen an M151 MUTT?

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  1. Chas H

    I was signed for one of these, along with an M37 and an M577, when I was in the Army. We called them jeeps, not Mutts. The Army called it a 1/4 ton truck.

    Like 5
  2. Chris H

    While this is an interesting historical little nugget, I’m out. Even at the super-low $2k current bid. It deserves someone who knows it, and has operated it’s likes to get it back up to par.

    Like 1
    • Mike

      Currently at $1,000 and it took 28 bids to get there. They are going at $20 increments. My guess it will sell for $2,400 and take 90 bids to get there.

      Like 3
      • Mike

        47 bids and it’s only up to $1,800. Who’s going to deliver the final $25 knockout blow?

        Like 0
  3. Mark

    This would have fallen into the Vietnam era. What did Ford use as their sales pitch at the Pentagon to the DOD in competition with the Willys? “No, it can’t do that, nor that, nor that, but it does have turn signals”.

    Like 6
    • local_sheriff

      Good question Mark, however the MUTT has more ground clearance, longer WB, it’s shorter than its predecessor and same height when the windshield goes down. That translates into a roomier vehicle with theoretical better off-road characteristics still capable of being transported in the same confines as the Willys. Did you know MB,Willys and MUTT look like they do as they’re intended to be stacked…?

      Regardless of those properties – IMO the MUTT isn’t even close to the Willys when it comes to charm…

      Like 2
    • bog

      The “Pentagon” bought a lot of “crap” vehicles for those of us that served during Viet Nam & Cold War. These 1/4 ton “trucks” were used by units worldwide & I had the pleasure of being hauled across West Germany on the Autobahn (during the dead of Winter) to have a prisoner at the military prison in Mannheim sign for their darn pay.
      “Not fit for highway use” LOL ! They went everywhere our tank Division did. And got stuck in the mud A LOT, but so light a couple able-bodied GIs could push them out of trouble. Also air-droppable, so handy..even fit inside Sikorsky twin rotor helicopters. Not nearly as bad as the 1/2 ton junk Jeep sold US. Basically a Wagoneer pickup. If lifted from the front the frame bent & folded right behind the cab. Doesn’t work to swell after that….

      Like 0
  4. Ben T. Spanner

    I drove them in 1968/69 as a draftee. I was assigned to an infantry unit at Ft Campbell KY, that had a motor pool full of brand new 2 1/2 ton, 5/4 ton and 1/4 tons all with trailers. Most had under 100 miles.I was the only driver of a 2 1/2 ton. I have no idea who was to drive all the other vehicles if we were deployed.
    My daily driver before being drafted was a 1954 Porsche, so I was used to the goofy handling. Others weren’t.
    My driver training in the 2 1/2 ton was maybe 20 minutes. I wasn’t afraid of it, and that was good enough. No training in the mutt, just get in and go.

    Like 2
  5. Todd FitchStaff

    MUTT… Pet Project… I see what you did there. lol Nice one, Scotty.

    Like 5
  6. Todd FitchStaff

    “prone to flipping over on tight corners at speed.” Yikes. Don’t let that MUTT bite you in the corners. Should be safe as most drivers use maybe 27% of their vehicle’s cornering ability.

    Like 1
  7. Charles Meyer

    I had a 1971 M151A2 quite a few years back. A local guy was buying them for salvage as they were cut in half and sold as scrap. He’d buy them, weld back together and sell with a “rebuilt” IL title. Parts were readily available but pre internet limited their access. Should be a piece of cake now. Always leaked oil no matter what I did. It was a fun unit.

    Like 0
  8. Ron W

    I was a Marine Corps mechanic in the mid 80’s, and our motor pool had probably thirty or so jeeps (mixture of A1 and A2 variants). These things are pretty much built like tanks. Then engines are trouble free, and as long as you don’t do anything stupid with them, they are fine for in town driving. I live near the seller and I may have to throw a bid or two at this one.

    Like 2
  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I was in Germany from Nov 1964 to May 1967. I trained as a heavy truck driver at Ft Ord, California so my mos was 64bc heavy truck driver. The unit I was assigned to had a fleet of these little Jeeps so naturally I drove them quite a bit. They were fun to drive, they had a sticker on the body warning of flip over dangers. I did a lot of donuts in the motor pool, drove them through the German country side and really had fun with the one I was driving. Most of the time I drove 5 ton trucks, but occasionally I drove an officer around in a MUTT. Overall the army was a bad experience for me but I did have some fun and managed an honorable discharge.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  10. steve

    My understanding was that these were so prone roll overs that the army was SUPPOSED to cut them in half before releasing them as surplus. That may explain the lack of them on the civilian market.

    Like 3
    • Val

      Yes back in the 80’s they use to run them over with a D9 Cat dozer then they had a contract that I helped with where a company bought the M 151’s and they got the permission to take everything off the Body they could they they would crush them or cut them in Half they would sell the bodies in the steel pile guy’s would buy the pile and weld the 2 half’s back together there are still a bunch that got out without being touched that’s mostly what you see. Besides the Restored one’s

      Like 0
  11. Karl

    If any body ever looked for one of these one of the first words you will see in the add is “never cut” meaning the frame was never cut in half by the Government when the got rid of them. As was said earlier the 151 series had a penchant for tipping over when driven to aggressively into corners so much so the govt. Wouldn’t sell them unless the frame was cut this turning them to scrap. Lots of industrious folks did buy them and weld the frames back together then claim “never cut” then sell them in truth there are very few that weren’t cut. If you can find one of the few not cut 151 in near perfect condition they are going for around 12 to 14k. Parts are very available and not outrageously priced, this one is going to need a lot of work!

    Like 1
  12. David G

    I don’t recall them being cut prior to resale, but in the late ’80s I recall seeing several at a Government surplus auction. There were signs, as well as the auctioneer stating several times through the bidding process that the M151’s are not DOT approved, and thus cannot be registered for use on public roads/highways. Several most likely went to farms, golf courses, etc.

    Like 1
  13. Bellingham Fred

    I see one every year during Hot August Nights in Reno. Complete with an M60, helmets etc, etc from the Vietnam war era. It draws a lot of veterans who were there. This flickr link shows the owner. The black ’40 Ford is mine.

    Like 1
    • bog

      Nice…that one’s got the “optional” barb wire cutter mounted on the front bumper.

      Like 0
  14. Erwin Bovyn

    This is definately an M151 A1 MUTT.
    2-piece windscreen, flat fenders, directional lights on top of the fenders, headlights in the grille plate. The A2 version had his headlights worked in in the fenders and has a 1 piece windscreen.

    Like 2
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Thank you, sir. We typically go by what a seller lists a vehicle as unless it’s so far off that it’s obvious. In this case, even Barrett-Jackson listed a 1965 MUTT as being an M151 so that’s what I went with and was hoping for confirmation. Thanks much!

      Like 0
  15. Cam W

    I have had several versions of these. Ford had the initial contract to build 151s, and AM General later won the bid. MUTTS do not have a frame (like the Iltis). They are basically a steel tub, with independent suspension and drivetrain attached. front and rear diffs are interchangeable, and the engine/rad/transmission can be removed as a module in about an hour.
    There were significant issues with handling and stability, especially with the early models. The M151A2 had redesigned rear suspension to improve handling. The military eventually retrofitted a full Roll Over Protection system with roll-cage and shoulder-belts before the Hummers replaced them.
    The majority of 151s were “cut” before disposal and sold as parts. Data plates with VIN were usually removed prior to sale to discourage rebuilding.Many were just cut in half. After people started welding them back, most were cut diagonally in quarters. The Canadians actually hired a contractor to strip the drivetrain, seats, lights, etc then had the bodies shredded at a steel company under supervision. some escaped after being involved in collisions, and uncut surplus tubs were also sold. Most parts are available. While repro bodies are available for most military “Jeeps” like the MB, GPW, M38, and M38A1, there are No complete bodies available for the M151 MUTTS.
    MUTTS can be fun to drive, if you are sensible. They are not as collectable or as valuable as earlier military “jeeps”.
    If you want one, do your homework.
    I suggest you have a genuine expert inspect the vehicle prior to buying it. Join the MVPA, and you will find many knowlegable members willing to assist.
    It is generally best to avoid units that were cut. Even if it was repaired well, they can be difficult to sell, or may not pass inspection for licensing.
    Even if it looks OK, often the Data/VIN plates have been switched or are reproduction (easily available from military parts dealers and online) with bogus VIN. I have seen many that are obvious fakes ie a M151A2 built by AM General with a data plate(and VIN) for an earlier Ford-built MUTT. many were done years ago, and have changed hands several times. This will usually be “no problem” with licensing and insurance………Until there “is a problem” like a crash or claim……that triggers a thorough inspection and investigation. You could face potential civil liability and other charges if things go badly.
    It is best to buy a unit with solid , verified history.

    Like 4
  16. Val

    Yep A1 M151 they are fun Vehicles My Mom and Dad bought 1 from a sales lot up in Big Bear Calif .I was up there seeing a Friend of Mine and as I drove by the lot I Noticed a weird looking Vehicle in the Back of the Lot it had a home made top on it .So I got the Number and when I got home I told my Dad .He said Call on it .This was Back in 1981 so when I did the guy said Yes it was like 1200.00 I told him Sold I would pick it up the Next weekend Being my Dad was Part of the MVCC Military Vehicle Collector’s Club in Southern Ca. Meet up with my Dad the following weekend and he bought it .I got the chore of driving it back down to Barstow Ca . They Put Over 10,000 Miles on that thing it was a Blast to drive and Yes going around corner’s you had to be Careful because when fast you had to go Slow because the back susp. would tuck Like the Old Swing arm VW would do .I was use to it because I had owned a 56 Baja .Lot’s of Fully restored Jeep’s and truck’s along with Humvee’s and pretty Much anything Military in the Club .

    Like 0
  17. Richard Walter

    Drove new M151 in Korea 1964, hit an ice patch, got sideways, flipped on drivers side. I was not injured seriously, shoulder sore for weeks. Taxi drivers came to my aid, we righted “jeep”, they could not stop laughing. I drove on to railroad station to pick up my passenger, made no mention of accident. Thankfully, incident was covered up by my first sergeant as “shipping damage”. Good times!

    Like 2

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