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Rare, Unique “Sporty” Jeep: 1950 Willys Jeepster

Being a kid growing up in the 60’s, I watched plenty of World War II-themed TV Shows like Combat and Rat Patrol (even Hogan’s Heroes). Jeeps were prevalent on those shows and I remember being a tad confused as a youngster when I saw one of these up-close-and-personal in a parking lot. Yep, it resembled a utilitarian Jeep alright, but it was rather civilized and also looked like it would be a ton of fun to drive. It just had a certain charm to it. That’s what Willys-Overland Motors was hoping too, and even promoted their interesting crossover as “America’s Outstanding Sports Car” that could go anywhere and had smart styling, was a thrill to drive, and was very economical (a fuel thriftiness almost miserly). Unfortunately, it didn’t quite connect with their intended target audience: sentimental World War II GI’s who wanted a cross between a wartime Jeep and a sporty two-door, four-seater phaeton. Sales were disappointing and after three model years, the Jeepster was yanked from the Willys lineup. Only 19,132 Jeepsters were produced from 1948 – 1950 and here’s one of the 5,836 units produced in its last model year. This 1950 Willys Jeepster is currently residing in Lancaster, Ohio and is for sale here on Marketplace for $10,900. A special thanks to JMB#7 for spotting this rather rare Jeepster and sending it our way.

Like I see on many Marketplace ads, the details and history are very scant, but at least the recent photos (taken 5/23/2023) are good. I like the Jeepster’s styling that noted industrial designer Brook Stevens created. Stevens was a genius working with limited budgets and other production restrictions. In the Jeepster’s case, Willys-Overland simply didn’t have the machinery to manufacture complicated shapes, so Stevens had no choice but to go with a simple, slab-side design. To me, that gives the Jeepster its unique, funky charm. This one is finished in white that looks presentable and there’s no rust or other body concerns visible. The seller says that body work has been done in the past but doesn’t elaborate. It comes with a new top that hasn’t been installed but there’s no mention if side curtains with plastic windows are included.

The simple interior looks to be in very good shape  with a white painted dash and an overall no-nonsense look. The seller shares that the gauge’s needs to be wired up, though. Jeep touted their “Easy-posture seats upholstered in long-wearing, washable plastic material” in their sales literature. The red seats with the white piping makes for a nice contrast with the white paint and fits appropriately with the Jeepster’s image.  I also like that cool, old-school steering wheel.

By the third – and final – model year of 1950, about the only thing worth shouting about in advertising was the introduction of the new Hurricane engine that promised more power, greater torque, and improved efficiency. This Jeepster has a 134.2-cubic inch inline four with unknown mileage. It’s paired with a three-on-the-tree column mounted manual transmission. The seller shares that the Jeepster has overdrive but it needs to be hooked up and also says the Jeepster runs, has good brakes (with disc brakes on the front), good tires, and has been converted to 12 volt. At 73, this somewhat rare Jeepster doesn’t look too bad. And, with Hagerty’s valuing a 1950 Jeepster in #3 Good Condition at $23,400 (#4 Fair Condition at $13,200), it’s $10,900 asking price looks like a good deal. Hopefully, the next owner will finish the “To-Do” list, drive it, and enjoy it for many years to come.

Comments

  1. Todd J. Member

    Looks like it has a ‘48 or ‘49 grill with the chrome center strip missing.

    Like 1
  2. TheOldRanger

    I have always liked this model, and I was 8 years old when this one hit the streets (and I was wowed… wished we had owned this, but with 7 kids… no dice).

    Like 2
  3. Troy

    I like white paint on most vehicles, just not this one I’m not sure why maybe it just needs a chrome grill or red pinstripe to go with the Red interior

    Like 2
  4. arkie Member

    I’m another lifetime when I was a Shriner clown, I had the privilege of meeting and being in many parades with The Jeepsters, a unit of brother Shriners who utilized nearly a dozen of these. These vehicles were their pride and and joy. Some retained the original Hurricane or Hercules engines. Others were fitted out with small block Chevy or Ford. I even remember a Continental Red Seal being in one. One of these caught fire and was burned beyond repair. In a show of affection and dedication it was trailered home where it received a funeral and proper burial.

    Like 4
  5. Jake Loring

    My Dad had the local Jeep franchise and I have always wanted on of these Jeepsters…one day…

    Like 2
  6. Richard

    I’ve loved these cars since I was a little kid. So pretty. One day I may pull the trigger. This one looks excellent and not too far from factory correct.

    Like 1
  7. Dennis Lear

    My buddy Ernie and I picked one up in “Ozzies” junk yard in high school.
    Engine was in the back seat.
    Kept it out at old man Buckners farm in NJ. Ran it through the corn fields after they harvested, dried stalks would fill the radiator an the exhaust manifold would turn red.
    Kept on running we would hose it down, tough little bugger. Pretending we were in Africa chasing big game.

    Like 3

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